Saturday, August 24, 2013

Crunchy Pretzels | We Knead to Bake #8

I tasted pretzels few years and was fascinated by it. I am not a  great fan of too crunchy things, but the saltiness and the knotty shape made me hold them at a  distance with awe. Though I had tried softer pretzels and even tried stuffing them, hard crunchy ones always eluded me. 

But this time thanks to We Knead to Bake, where Aparna chose Alton Brown's recipe from FoodNetwork I did bake the crunchiest and hard pretzels which can definitely give complex to any commercially manufactured pretzels. 

So crunch on..


Instant Yeast: 2 tsp
Sugar: 1 tbsp
Luke warm Water: 1 and 3/4 cups 

All Purpose Flour: 4.5 cups + more for dusting
Salt: 2 tsp (adjust if sprinkling with pretzel salt)

Water: 6 cups
Baking Soda: 2 tbsp

Pretzel salt/sea salt: for sprinkling

In a bowl, mix together yeast,sugar and luke warm water. Let it sit for five minutes till it turns frothy. Will instant yeast this step is optional but I followed it.

In a food processor, mix in the flour,salt and the yeast mixture and blend in until the flour is incorporated. A dough starts forming and take out once it starts pulling away from the sides.

Turn the dough onto a lightly dusted surface and knead on adding more flour if needed to get a smooth,moist non sticky elastic dough.You can do this step in the food processor as well.

Once the dough is formed place it in a oiled bowl, turning once to coat with oil and let it sit covered with a towel or a foodwrap until it doubles in size. This takes an hour or so.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and deflate it so as to remove most of the air.

Roll out the dough into a 12' x 12' square and using a pizza cutter divide it into equal sized pieces.
At this stage, my dough was not a perfect square and I ended up with different sized pieces. But still I could work with these.

Once  the pieces are formed, make ready a plate/cookie sheet by lightly greasing with oil. Also keep ready another baking sheet by lining it with parchment/aluminium foil and lightly oiling on top. Also lighly oil your hands as you are about work with each individual pieces.

Flatten each piece of dough and roll into a tightly cylinder. Then slowly roll it out into a thin rope. The rope should be thinner than a pencil and almost 1' in diameter.

Then shape into a pretzel and place on the greased plate/cookie/sheet. Repeat this process with as many dough pieces as needed to make a batch. My shaping is not perfect but yes you can get a mastery over it by practicing on the umpteen pieces. :-D

Meanwhile bring water to boil and slowly add the soda. It will first bubble up and then settle down. Cook the pretzels for not more than 30 seconds in this soda bath. Slowly remove them with a slotted spoon and place them on lined and greased baking sheet.

Sprinkle pretzel/sea salt atop them along with egg wash if using. I didnt opt for egg wash.

Bake the pretzels in a preheated oven at 180C for 40- 50 minutes or until the top is golden brown and shiy and the pretzels are hard. Mine was done under 30 minutes. So it depends on the batch size and better to keep an eye after 20 minutes.

Take and cool for a few minutes on the sheet after which remove to the rack to cool completely. This will also take few minutes after which store in air tight containers to prevent them from turning chewy.

Yum yum and yum. Perfect pretzels that will give the market ones a run for their money...

For me they are perfect midnight snacks.. or anytime snacks as well.

Hope over to Aparna's Post for We Knead to Bake #8 to find who all crunched the pretzels.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Speculoos Cookies | World Cookies for Baking Partners #13

Speculoos are Dutch Spiced Cookies. These are like spiced shortbread cookies baked in Netherlands for St.Nicholas Feast in December or around Christmas.

 I love baking cookies and have a special affinity towards spiced ones. So I loved the World Cookies Challenge that was given by Swathi and Sowmya for Baking Partners #12 this time.

Also it was so long that I posted something on this space.What item better than a spiced cookie? It was actually a cookie sandwich recipe, but I didn't fill them as the first batch were toooo good to resist and so decided to have/serve them as such.

Oops let me stop and lets go straight to the recipe.I need to finish this and munch on.Two lone cookies are waiting for me .. unless ofcourse Daughter dear smells them out ;)


Cubed Cold Butter : 8 tbsp or 100g or 1 stick or 1/2 cup

Sugar: 1/3 cup
Light Brown Sugar (I used demerara) : 12 tbsp
Salt: 1/2 tsp

Baking Soda: 1/4 tsp

Ground Cinnamon: 2.5 tsp
Ground Nutmeg: 1/4 tsp
Ground Ginger: 1/2 tsp
Ground Cloves: 1/4 tsp
Fresh Grated Pepper: 1/4 tsp

Egg: 1 or Ener Egg: 1.5 pkd tsp of Ener G + 2-3 tbsp of water
Vanilla : 1 tsp Molasses: 1 tsp All Purpose Flour: 1 and 3/4 cup

In a food processor, blend together the cubed butter, sugars, salt, soda and the ground spices on medium speed till well incorporated or for about 30 seconds.

Add in the vanilla, egg and molasses and blend on medium speed for another 1-2 minutes scrapping the sides of the bowl if needed.

Add the flour and beat in medium speed till all the flour is incorporated.

Scrap the dough -slightly sticky- on to a plastic wrap,cover it  and shape it into a disc and chill for about 30 minutes atleast or upto 2 days. The dough can be frozen for upto 3 months as well.

Preheat the oven to 190 C / 375 F.
Take out the dough, roll it out into a 1/4' inch. I did this within the plastic wrap to avoid mess. You can turn the dough out on a floured surface and roll it out.

Using cookie cutter of desired shape, cut out cookies and place them on a parchment lined or greased cookie sheet leaving an inch of space between them.

Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes until they start to darken around the edges. Take out and let them cool in the sheet for about 10 minutes after which transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

When I took them out after 8th minute, the centre was just set and they sort of crisped up in the cookie sheet upon cooling.  
I loved them as such and hence didnt go for filling. The cookies if remaining can be stored in fridge in an airtight container.

Now Lets see what other baking partners baked for this World Cookies Challenge:

Thanks for visiting my Blog

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