This pretzel loaf has been on my ‘to bake’ list for weeks. I’ve been putting it off because we’ve been having a very busy June. Instead, I’ve made a couple of recipes that were quick & easy to pull together, bake and photograph.
I needn’t have delayed, making a pretzel loaf isn’t as long, drawn out or difficult as I’d imagined. I think it was the boiling process that put me off attempting it for so long.
Yes, it did seem a bit strange par-boiling a ball of dough; but the technique produced a beautifully browned and deliciously chewy crust. It was a bit fiddly, make sure you use a large enough saucepan with enough boiling water. I had a pair of stainless steel skimmers which were perfect for the job of flipping the loaf over in the pan.
My decision to experiment with smoked salt flakes instead of traditional pretzel salt was a success – it gave it a very subtle flavour which didn’t overpower in the least.
Click here to pin the recipe for future reference!
- 500g/17 oz strong bread flour
- 1tbsp sugar
- 2tsp instant yeast
- 1¼tsp salt
- 250ml/ 9fl oz full-fat milk
- 125ml/ 4½fl oz warm water (blood temperature)
- 2L water
- 3tbsp brown sugar
- 2tbsp bicarbonate of soda
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast
- Mix for a couple of seconds on low to combine the dry ingredients
- With the mixer on low, carefully pour in the milk and water. Continue mixing on low until you have a smooth, soft, slightly tacky dough
- Remove the bowl from the mixer, cover with cling film or put it inside a large, clear plastic bag and set aside somewhere warm to rise until doubled in size (about an hour)
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400°F/Gas mark
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface
- Lift the dough, gently pull the edge of the dough down and tuck under. Turn the dough a ¼ turn and repeat. Do this until you've formed a cohesive round. Place the round on the clean surface and use your hands to gently turn and tighten the dough down over the surface
- Place on the prepared baking sheet, cover with a clean tea towel or length of oiled cling film and allow to rise while the oven preheats
- Bring 2 litres of water to a boil in a large stainless steel or other non-reactive pan (enamelled cast-iron, tempered glass etc.)
- When the water comes to a boil, add the brown sugar and bicarbonate of soda
- Gently lift the loaf and carefully ease the dough - top side down first - into the boiling water
- Simmer for about 3 minutes, flip the dough over using two spatulas or slotted spoons and simmer on that side for another 2 minutes
- Use the two spatulas or slotted spoons to carefully lift the dough out of the water and transfer back over to the parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
- Spritz the loaf with water and sprinkle with the coarse salt
- Using a lamé or a sharp knife, slice along the contours of the bread about ½cm/¼-inch thick.
- Bake for 35 minutes or until deep brown
- Transfer the loaf to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before slicing