Saturday, January 21, 2017

#57 - German Pretzels and my Baking Challenge

Waiting for the water to boil with the German Pretzels
 I've tried a new baking recipe each of the first two weekends this year, and plan to do at least one this weekend as well.  It seemed perfect to start the first recipe for my baking project with German Soft Pretzels since they were already on my DayZero list.  I had decided to make pretzels that used a baking soda bath rather than the strictly traditional lye.  After some searching on the internet, I found a good recipe candidate here.

Pretzels just out of the oven
I had made bagels in the past, so I did have some idea of how to approach the boil, then bake method.  However, I decided to stick strictly with the proofing times provided in the recipe instead of following my instincts.  This was probably a mistake as my kitchen (and house in general) is normally cooler than many people prefer.  I didn't get the best rise, but I did get a lesson in trusting your gut when deciding when something is ready.  Shaping the pretzels was more difficult than I expected; the dough did not want to cooperate with being rolled into ropes (probably due to the too-short proof) and my lengths were on the short side - less material to turn into the traditional knots.  I was VERY happy that I did follow the recipe's advice to stand back as I added the baking soda to the boiling water - I had a mini volcano for a short time that did make me worry if I would have anything left in the stockpot to boil the pretzels.

I thought the taste of the finished product was good; however, this is a recipe that I want to revisit and try to work out some of the kinks in the future.
Starting the soda bread

My second new baked good was Irish Soda Bread.  I've made soda bread before in my bread machine but never from scratch.  I choose a plain recipe from a cookbook that I generally have good results on new recipes.  This was a fairly straight-forward bake; the only wobble was that I didn't have quite enough all-purpose flour in my container when I started.  I did have more all-purpose in the freezer, but didn't want to add it in since (as referenced above) my kitchen tends to be cold already.  So, I changed proportions slightly to include more bread flour.  The end result had a bit more fiber, tasted fine, and smelled lovely as I took it from the oven.
I have heard that deeply scoring soda bread helps the bake

Warm soda bread dusted with flour

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