|Pretty mustards all in a row: Zwiebel (onion), horseradish, & Dijon|
This salt theme has happily given me the push I (apparently) needed to fulfill a promise I made to Penny many months ago when I won The Salt Book in a giveaway she had. She asked that the winners make a dish from the book and share it with everyone. "Oh yes!" I said. "Definitely!"
Well, that was back in April ...
... and here we are. But I can happily say that the recipe I made was well worth the wait, and I hope you'll agree.
I chose homemade pretzels because salt plays a starring role. This is a relatively simple dish with few ingredients, but the salt is crucial. Without it, as far as I'm concerned, all you have is a dough blob, not a pretzel. I went with black lava salt partly for its unexpected look, but also because it has big presence. The charcoal-y grit of the salt works so well with the fresh-baked pillow-y dough. And the salty smell of baking pretzels is ... slurp.
A word of advice: Eat at least one of them hot, fresh out of the oven. You can thank me later.
adapted from The Salt Book
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp table salt
1 packet active dried yeast
4 1/2 cups flour (I used pastry flour)
50 g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
sea salt, such as black lava, fleur de sel, or pink Himalayan, for sprinkling
one egg yolk
|My new favorite salt|
In a small bowl, combine the water and sugar. Add the yeast and let sit until it foams, about 5 minutes. Sift together the table salt and flour, and add this to the bowl of a stand mixer that has been fitted with the dough hook attachment. Slowly add the water/sugar/yeast mixture, along with the butter, while mixing on low speed. Increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides. If it's too dry add some water; if it's too wet, add more flour. Place the dough ball in an oiled container and cover with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm place until the dough doubles in size (about an hour).
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (230 C) and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. (You could also use lightly oiled non-stick cookie sheets, it worked for me.) In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk with a tablespoon of water and set aside. Bring the 10 cups of water, along with the baking soda, to a boil in a roasting pan.
Now for the fun part! Divide the dough into eight equal sections. On a lightly oiled surface, roll one section into a rope, approximately 2 feet (60 cm) long. Pull the ends up into a "u" and then bring them back down to make a pretzel shape, like this:
Now plop the cute little pretzel into the boiling water for 30 seconds:
Remove with a flexible spatula and place on your cookie sheet, brush with the egg wash and and salt generously:
And on to the next pretzel. It is SO much fun to make these! Bake for about 10-15 minutes, until they get nice and brown on top. You're supposed to let them all cool on a rack ... but some made a detour into hungry bellies.
After experiencing the bliss that is a fresh, hot, homemade pretzel (and maybe just a couple of bites of another one ...) I made Poppa Trix take the rest to work the next day because I knew they were not going to last in my presence. These were great with mustard, but honestly I liked them plain the best. My only regret is that I didn't have the foresight to have beer on hand to go with them ... doh! Next time.
And speaking of next time - see you at the next Incident Party. As always, it's been fab, and thanks to the lovely Penny! And make sure to check out what everyone else brought to the party: