Recipe: After looking over a bunch of sourdough soft pretzel recipes I chose to follow the recipe of my current go-to sourdough blogger, Food Geek. I made the following three changes to his original recipe: I used Central Milling’s Organic Artisan Bakers Craft Plus flour instead of bread flour, 200g of starter discard instead of the recipe’s levain, and Fleischmann’s unsalted margarine instead of butter (I keep kosher and prefer to keep my baked goods non-dairy).
Techniques used: One reason that I chose to follow Food Geek’s recipe was that he used food grade lye instead of baking soda and/or sugar. In general I prefer to make my recipes as authentic as possible and lye is traditionally used for pretzels in Germany and a number of other European countries. Next, at some point’s where this recipe said to wait 30 minutes in between steps, I waited closer to 45, but I doubt it made a difference. Lastly, I didn’t have enough room in my freezer for the 2 sheet trays of pretzels so I put them in my fridge for 45 minutes to firm up before dipping them in the lye bath, adding salt, and baking them.
Results: For my first attempt at soft pretzels these pretzels came out great (I baked 10 instead of the 12 set by the recipe I followed). Their exterior was nice and caramelized which made for a toothsome and slightly crispy crust and the malted Central Milling flour lent a fluffiness to their interior crumb. One caveat of lower hydration breads such as pretzels and bagels is that they go dry quite quickly. Within 1 day after baking them, my pretzels were noticably dry and more chewy. In terms of changes for the next time I make this recipe: I’ll make sure to add the salt during the initials mix of the final dough rather than remembering to do so an hour afterwards. Secondly, I may incorporate a bit of bread flour to see if the higher protein level contributes to added moisture retention…Though I could bake a batch when circumstances would allow for all 10 pretzels to be eaten day of.
For more pictures of these loaves and all of my sourdough recipes click on the ‘Sourdough Baking Journal’ page above.