“Locke put up his hands and tried to stand up; one of Jean’s fists grew in his field of vision until it seemed to blot out half the world. The blow folded him over like a bread-pretzel. When he recovered something resembling his senses he was hugging a table leg; the room was dancing a minuet around him.”
-The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch
This recipe is slightly more of a stretch than I usually indulge in, but I really like pretzels, and they’re so easy to make at home. The addition of some darker flours, such as rye and pumpernickel, tweak the pretzels into something just slightly different than we are used to.
Serve the pretzels still warm from the oven. Not being a big mustard fan (sacrilege!), I love eating my pretzels with honey.
Recipe for Bread-Pretzels
Cook’s Notes: Although this recipe calls for several types of flour, you can also use plain, unbleached flour as a substitute for the quirkier varieties. This will result in a more American style plain pretzel, which is also delicious with a dusting of salt and some mustard, but lacks that slight otherworldly element of the recipe below.
- 2 cups room-temperature water
- 1 Tbs. instant yeast
- 2-3 cups bread flour, plus more for kneading
- 1 cup pumpernickel flour
- 1 cup rye flour
- 2 Tbs. brown sugar
- 2 1/2 tsp. salt
- 6 cups water
- 2 Tbs. baking soda
- toppings: try kosher salt, herb salt, caraway seeds, sesame seeds, parmesan, or a combination thereof
Mix together the water, yeast, sugar, and a cup of the flour. Add the salt, and continue to add flour until the dough has come together into a nice workable, mostly unsticky consistency. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead for several minutes, until the dough bounces back when poked. Place in a greased bowl, cover with a dish towel, and let rise until doubled in size, around 2 hours.
Divide the dough into around 16 pieces. Roll each of these into a long, thin rope about 1/2″ thick, and about a foot long. Twist into pretzel shapes, or into whatever shape you like, and set aside to rest. Repeat with all the dough. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 450F. Bring the water and baking soda to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Gently lower several pretzels into this water bath. They should sink to the bottom, but then gradually float up. Allow to simmer for about 30 seconds on each side, flipping half way through. Lift out and allow to drain on a cooling rack. Sprinkle with toppings while the dipped pretzels are still wet, and arrange on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for around 12 minutes, or until the pretzels are a beautiful rich brown color.
Like this recipe? Check out the other recipes from the Gentlemen Bastards series!