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
We’re making an unusual real bread recipe this time, for our weekly Cakes & Bakes feature; Halloumi herb bread.
Classic Halloumi is made with mint, and the original recipe called for 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh mint leaves and 4 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh parsley leaves. I bought a pack of Halloumi from Lidl which was made with basil, so I tweaked the recipe accordingly.
Bakery Bits baked their Halloumi herb bread in a Pullman loaf pan, a bit of kit which I don’t own, so I just used a common or garden loaf tin.
A delicious, hearty, intense flavoured loaf was the result. A suitable accompaniment for an endless number of dishes… meat, fish or vegetable based – rice, pasta, couscous or salad.
I had it again the following day, toasted on both sides under the grill – very satisfactory leftovers.
- 5g/0.2oz dry yeast
- 175ml/6 fl oz warm water
- ¼tsp caster sugar
- 250g/9oz strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 25g/1oz strong wholemeal bread flour
- 4g/0.15oz salt
- 250g/9oz Halloumi cheese, cut into 1cm chunks
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbs finely chopped fresh basil leaves
- 3 spring onions, peeled and sliced fairly finely
- pinch of sea salt
- pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- In a small bowl, mix the yeast with 15ml/½ fl oz of the water at 30°C/86ºF and the caster sugar
- Allow to stand for about 15 minutes, until it has developed a slight froth on the surface
- Place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine
- Add the yeast mixture and the rest of the water and use your hand or a dough whisk to mix everything together until there's no dry flour left and you have a shaggy dough
- Tip the dough out onto the work surface and knead for 10 minutes. By this stage the dough should be smooth and elastic
- Form the dough into a ball and place it back in the mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean, damp cloth and leave at room temperature for 1-1½ hours
- While the dough is rising, put the Halloumi into a medium bowl with the olive oil, basil leaves and spring onions
- Season with salt and black pepper. Stir, then cover and leave for at least 30 minutes
- Prepare a 500g/1lb loaf tin by lightly greasing the sides and base with butter and dusting lightly with flour
- When the dough has almost doubled in size, gently tip it onto the work surface and press it out to form a rectangle three times the length and slightly wider than your loaf tin
- Spread the Halloumi and herb mixture evenly over the top of the dough
- Working from one of the long sides, roll the dough up like a Swiss roll. Press gently on the seam with your fingers to seal
- Place the roll of dough in the prepared loaf tin, cover and leave to prove for about 30 minutes
- Preheat the oven to 190°C /375°F /Gas mark 5
- Bake for 1 hour or until the top of the loaf develops a golden brown crust and the base makes a hollow sound when tapped
- Remove the loaf from the tin and place on a cooling rack
- Serve with tomato salad
A couple of weeks ago, we were watching an episode of Countryfile where they visited the Isle of Man.
One of the features they did from there was the annual Bonnag World Championships – which, last year, was won by 11-year-old Tom Keig.
Bonnag is a traditional Manx bread which, it is believed, has been around for hundreds of years. It can be ‘plain’ as I’ve made here or can be sweet with the addition of dried fruit such as currants, raisins, candied peel and mixed spice.
I went in search of a recipe but could only find ones with sketchy quantities and instructions. I guessed at the consistency and wetness of the dough. I thought it would be really similar to Irish soda bread in its ingredients and method. Anyway, it turned out really well. It was delicious straight from the oven with a smearing of butter!
- 450g/16oz plain flour
- pinch salt
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1tsp cream of tartar
- 60g/2oz cold butter, cubed
- 250g buttermilk
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
- Grease a baking tray and set aside
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients
- Rub in the cubed butter and make a well in the centre
- Pour in the buttermilk and mix until the dough just comes together
- Tip the dough on to a lightly floured work surface and form it into a ball. Do not over-knead
- Place the ball of dough on to the greased baking tray and bake for ¾ of an hour or until the top becomes golden brown
- Allow to cool on a wire rack
Prior to making these flatbreads, I’d never heard of piadina. That’s strange really, seeing as flatbreads from other countries are so well known – pitta, tortilla, chapati, roti…
Piadina is from the Emilia-Romagna region of north eastern Italy. It’s an area renowned for its food; the same area that produces Parmigiano Reggiano, Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale and the origin of pastas such as tortellini, lasagne and tagliatelle.
This basic flatbread is traditionally made of plain white flour, lard or olive oil, salt and water and served as a street food. It’s eaten as an accompaniment to cheeses, cold meats and vegetables or with sweet fillings such as jam or chocolate spread.
These are quick, easy and delicious – devour them while they’re still warm with a selection of dips!
- 175g/6oz plain flour
- 1tsp salt
- 15ml/1tbsp olive oil
- 105ml/7tbsp lukewarm water
- Sift the flour and salt together into a large bowl; make a well in the centre
- Add the oil and water to the centre of the flour and gradually mix in to form a dough
- Knead on a lightly floured surface for 4-5 minutes until smooth and elastic
- Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oild cling film and leave to rest for 20 minutes
- Heat a griddle over a medium heat
- Divide the dough into four equal pieces and roll each into 18cm/7-inch round
- Cover until ready to cook
- Lightly oil the hot griddle, add one or two piadine and cook for about 2 minutes or until they are starting to brown
- Turn the piadine over and cook for a further 1-1½ minutes
- Serve warm
- If you don't have a griddle, a large heavy frying pan will work just as well
My Pinterest stream is always full of food photos – predominately cake, fudge, biscuits and bread. One in particular caught my eye last week… a beetroot loaf. The colour is amazing and I love beetroot anyway.
I had a search through many of my cook books and finally found a beetroot loaf recipe in Bread. The recipe is designed for electric bread-makers (there’s a whole section of bread-maker recipes in the book if that’s your preferred way of making bread!) but it’s fine to use if you’re making it by hand.
Just mix the yeast and sugar in the water using a small measuring jug or cup, combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl making a well in the centre, pour in the yeast mixture and bring together roughly. Chuck in the beetroot, spring onions and butter (I omitted the last two ingredients) then knead well for about 10 minutes. Cover the mixing bowl in cling film (or put it inside a big clear [reusable] plastic bag like I do). Allow it to rise in a warm place until doubled in size. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl, punch down and put it into a loaf tin or well-floured banneton. Allow to double in size again before (transferring from the banneton to a greased oven tray) baking in a preheated oven at 220ºC/425ºF/Gas mark 7 for 30-40 minutes or until it sounds hollow when knocked on the base.
It was beautiful and absolutely delicious! Slightly sweet with a slightly earthy flavour. I had it with goats cheese and horseradish and Justin had the same in addition to a char-grilled sirloin steak.
- 150ml/5fl oz/⅔ cup water
- 140g/5oz/1 cup grated raw beetroot
- 2 spring onions, chopped
- 375g/13oz/3¼ cups unbleached white bread flour
- 15g/½oz/1tbsp butter
- 1½tsp salt
- 1tsp granulated sugar
- 1tsp easy-blend (rapid-rise) dried yeast
- 170ml/6fl oz/¾ cup water
- 225g/8oz/1½ cup grated raw beetroot
- 3 spring onions, chopped
- 500g/1lb 2oz/4½ cups unbleached white bread flour
- 25g/1oz/2tbsp butter
- 2tsp salt
- 1tsp granulated sugar
- 1tsp easy-blend (rapid-rise) dried yeast
- 280ml/1ofl oz/1¼ cup water
- 280g/10oz/2 cups grated raw beetroot
- 4 spring onions, chopped
- 675g/1 ½lbs/6 cups unbleached white bread flour
- 40g/1½oz/3tbsp butter
- 2tsp salt
- 1½tsp granulated sugar
- 1½tsp easy-blend (rapid-rise) dried yeast
- Pour the water into the bread pan. Sprinkle over the grated beetroot. If the instructions for your machine specify that the yeast is to be placed in the pan first, reverse the order in which you add the liquid mixture and dry ingredients
- Add the chopped spring onions. However, if your bread machine offers you the option of adding any extra ingredients during the kneading cycle, set the spring onions aside so that you may add them later on
- Sprinkle the flour over the beetroot and water, ensuring it covers them both. Add the butter, salt and sugar in separate corners. Make a small indent in the centre of the flour (but not down as far as the liquid) and add the yeast
- Set the bread machine to the basic/normal setting, medium crust. Press start. If you like, slash the top of the loaf with diagonal slashes just before the baking cycle starts
- Remove at the end of the baking cycle and turn out on to a wire rack
- If you prefer an all-over red loaf rather than speckled, purée the raw beetroot in a mini-food processor instead of grating it
I’ve decided to make a walnut and sultana loaf this week by tweaking a basic white bread recipe that I regularly use. I didn’t have enough white flour in store so I substituted a quarter with wholemeal. It was a good decision as it added to the nuttiness of the finished loaf.
Sliced or torn pieces of this bread will go amazingly well with a mild, creamy blue cheese such as Dolcelatte, Saint Agur or Roquefort.
Another good option would be a couple of dipping bowls of good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Once the loaf’s a couple of days old, have it toasted and spread with butter and honey.
- 7g/¼oz fast action yeast
- 1tsp sugar
- 300ml/10½fl oz warm water
- 500g/18oz strong bread flour
- 1tsp salt
- 50g/1¾oz chopped walnuts
- 50g/1¾oz sultanas
- In a measuring jug, stir the yeast and sugar into the warm water. Leave for 10 minutes for the yeast to begin working
- In a large mixing bowl add the flour. Make a well in the centre
- Add the liquid and knead until a smooth ball of dough is formed (I used my Kenwood mixer with dough hook attachment on a low speed for about 10 minutes, but you can do it by hand on a floured work surface for about 20 minutes)
- Cover the mixing bowl with cling film or put it into a large, clear plastic bag and leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.
- Add the salt, chopped walnuts and sultanas and knead lightly until the fruit & nuts are evenly distributed through the dough
- Place in a greased loaf tin (or in a well-floured banneton like I did) and re-cover and allow to prove again until doubled in size
- Preheat the oven to 260ºC/500ºF/Gas mark 10, put an empty roasting dish on the bottom shelf of the oven and fill a cup with cold water and set aside
- Once the loaf has risen, if using a banneton, grease a baking sheet and gently decant the loaf on to it, trying not to knock any air out of it
- Quickly & carefully pour the cup of water into the roasting dish before putting the loaf into the oven
- After 10 minutes, turn the oven down to 200ºC/ 400ºF/Gas mark 6
- Bake for a further 20-25 minutes before taking it out of the oven
- Leave to cool on a wire rack for at least half an hour before use