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
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
Dan Lepard is probably my favourite bread & pastry baker. I’ve cut out and kept some of his recipes that were published in his long-running (now sadly ended) column in the Guardian Weekend Magazine. Luckily, they’re all still available in the Guardian’s online archive.
I’ve had his tasty cornmeal baps recipe bookmarked for a few weeks, planning to give them a go. Instead of baps,I decided to turn them into a cornmeal loaf instead.
The recipe makes two, 500g/1lb loaves. I found the dough a little on the wet side and the cooked loaf a bit too sweet so I’ve ever so slightly tweaked the recipe below. Saying that, this is one of the best loaves I’ve ever baked.
It has a great, slightly springy crumb and crisp crust.
Lepard recommends pairing it with fried chicken – building your own (probably far superior) McChicken Sandwich or KFC Fillet Burger. Justin also likes the idea of slicing it for a smoked bacon sandwich.
What would you pair it with?
- 250g/9oz crème fraîche
- 250g/9oz mascarpone
- 1 vanilla pod
- 800g/28oz mixture of red berries (I used strawberries, raspberries and redcurrants)
- 50ml/1 ¾ fl oz grenadine syrup
- sprig of mint to garnish
- Place a sieve or small colander over a mixing bowl and line it with a piece of muslin (I used a jelly bag)
- Spoon the crème fraîche and fromage frais into a mixing bowl
- Split the vanilla pod in half lengthways with a sharp knife, open it flat and scrape out the dark, sticky seeds. Fold the seeds through the crème fraîche/fromage frais mixture and spoon it into the muslin-lined sieve
- Cover the sieve/colander and its under-bowl with cling film (Saran wrap) and leave in the fridge overnight, during which time the vanilla cream will thicken to cheesecake-like texture
- Hull & slice the berries (not redcurrants if using), put them into a mixing bowl, pour over the grenadine syrup. Mix gently to cover all the fruit with the liquid, cover with cling film and refrigerate for about an hour
- Upturn the sieve/colander on to a plate and allow the muslin and cream to slide out
- Carefully peel away the muslin
- Spoon the marinated red berries and liquid around the vanilla cream
- Drizzle an extra capful or two of grenadine syrup over the top of the vanilla cream
This week’s Cakes & Bakes recipe is a low effort to high reward ginger loaf cake. There are quite a few ingredients, but its a simple case of combining the dry, the wet, then mixing them together – and popping it in the oven.
The aromas emanating from the kitchen as it baked were amazing.
And after less than an hour a moist, very flavoursome loaf cake emerged.
It’s a perfect afternoon cake. A cup of tea and slice of this will satisfy the most extreme 4 o’clock peckishness. And it keeps very well too, so there’ll be plenty of days to enjoy it – unless you actually let someone else have some too!
- 450g/1lb wholemeal flour
- 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
- pinch of salt
- 300ml/½pt milk
- 1 egg
- 300ml/½pt black treacle
- 225g/8oz dried fruit (I used sultanas)
- Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
- Grease a 1kg/2lb loaf tin
- In a large mixing bowl, sift the salt and bicarbonate with the flour
- Mix in the milk, egg and treacle before adding the dried fruit
- Pour the mixture into the greased loaf tin and bake for about an hour. If the top begins to look too dark, cover with tin foil
- Turn out on to a wire rack to cool
- The original recipe says that this bread is best left for a month before cutting & consuming. We couldn't wait that long!