The combination of a crunchy, salty, crisp-chewy
pretzel, and spicy mustard just can't be beat! Both are easier than you might think to make at home. Just in time for Oktoberfest, Sweets & Bitters will show you how. We came up with this recipe while researching New York rye (the grain itself, and the things you can make from it) for Sweets & Bitters, Volume 3: Foodways.
Poaching the pretzels in an alkaline bath before baking produces that distinctive pretzel texture. The solution creates a gel on the surface, and the alkalinity speeds up the Maillard reaction (browning) so they get that deep chestnut crust and remain fluffy and doughy inside. Pretzel connoisseurs will tell you you must use [food grade] lye for the bath to make the perfect pretzel, and they may be right. We were quite happy with the results using baking soda. It's less intimidating to work with, and you probably already have it your kitchen–you could make pretzels today!
-Hannah and Mira
We'll post our mustard recipe next.
For the Dough
- 1 package (2 1/4t) active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 cup rye flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 Tablespoon whole caraway, crushed with a mortar and pestle or grinder
- 3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for kneading
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
For the Bath
- 2/3 c baking soda
- 10 cups water
- 1 Tablespoon coarse sea salt
- ½ tsp whole caraway seed
- 1 egg yolk
- mustard, to serve
1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1 1/2 cups of lukewarm water. Using a wooden spoon, mix in the honey. Then mix in the rye flour, salt, and crushed caraway. Stir in the all purpose flour, one cup at a time. When it becomes too stiff to stir, mix by hand.
2. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead in up to ½ cup of all purpose flour, for about 10-15 min, until the dough is tacky, soft, and supple. (To prevent dough from sticking to hands, rub a small amount of melted butter or vegetable oil on them.) Brush a clean bowl with a little of the melted butter; place the dough in the bowl and cover with a towel until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and brush butter over the parchment (a spot of butter on the bottom side of each corner will help stick it to the pan). Punch down and turn out the dough onto a lightly floured board and divide it into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a thin log with tapered edges about 17 inches long. Place the shaped pretzels on the baking sheets and let them rise for another 15-20 min.
4. Meanwhile, fill a big wide pot with the water and baking soda. Prepare a surface with a dishtowel for draining poached pretzels. To poach the pretzels, gently place them in the boiling water and cook for about 1 minute, spooning the hot water over them. When they are all poached and drained, return them to the baking sheets. Beat the egg yolk with 1 Tablespoon of water. Paint the tops of the pretzels with the egg yolk, and sprinkle liberally with sea salt and caraway seeds.
9. Bake for 15-18 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. The pretzels should be fairly dark in color. Transfer to a rack to cool a little. Brush the tops with the remaining melted butter, if you like. Serve warm, with mustard.
You might also like: