Recipes·Technical Bake

Pretzels

A good double twist and pinched edges are the trick to these classic pretzels.

A good double twist and pinched edges are the trick to these classic pretzels.

Pretzels were the Technical Bake for Bread Week on Season 4 of The Great Canadian Baking Show. (Geoff George / The Great Canadian Baking Show)

What could be better than homemade pretzels with a zesty cheese dip? 

When making these pretzels, make sure to do a good double twist and pinch your edges down well. Dipping the pretzels in a lye solution gives them a deep golden colour and that perfect skin on top. 

Pretzels were the Technical Bake for Bread Week on Season 4 of The Great Canadian Baking Show

Makes: 12

Ingredients

Dough:

  • 4 ½ cups (630 g) flour
  • 1 pkg (8 g) instant yeast
  • 2 tsp (8 g) salt
  • 3 tbsp (45 g) butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup (177 ml) lukewarm water
  • ¾ cup (177 ml) lukewarm whole milk
  • 2 tsp (10 g) molasses
  • Rice flour to dust pan

Zesty Cheese Dip (makes 1 cup):

  • 1 ¾ cups (145 g) grated old cheddar
  • ¼ cup (56 g) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) water
  • 2 tbsp (20 g) minced onion
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 tsp (20 ml) lemon juice
  • ½ tsp (1 ml) Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp (2 g) dry mustard
  • ¼ tsp (1 - 2 g) grated garlic

Lye Solution:

  • 4 cups (1 L) lukewarm water
  • 2 tbsp (28 g) food grade lye
  • Latex gloves

Seasonings

  • Pretzel salt for sprinkling

Preparation

Whisk together the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add butter, working it in with your hands until the pieces resemble sandy crumbs. 

Stir together milk and molasses, then stir in water and add to the mixture. Stir to bring together. Lightly and briefly squeeze and knead mixture until ingredients just come together to form a dough. 

Turn out onto a clean work surface and pat into a two-inch thick square mass. Gently pull the edge furthest from you up and over, folding it over of itself, pressing to seal. Fold bottom edge over to meet the top and press to seal. Rotate dough a quarter turn. Repeat this process seven more times for a total of eight turns.

Form dough into a ball and place, seam side down, into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rest for 15 minutes.

Turn dough out onto work surface and form a two-inch-thick mass. Fold the top edge ⅔ of the way towards the bottom edge, pressing to seal. Bring bottom edge to meet top and press to seal. Rotate dough a quarter turn and repeat. Form into a ball, return to the bowl, cover and let rest 15 minutes. 

Turn dough out onto surface and repeat above, doing two turns and resting for 15 more minutes.

Meanwhile, sprinkle two rimmed baking sheets with rice flour and set aside.

Turn dough onto a clean surface. Cut into 12 equal portions and cover with a towel.

Shaping:

Press one piece of dough into a rectangle. Fold top edge ¼ of the way down and, using fingertips and heel of hand, seal the ends and remove all air bubbles. Repeat until a tight log is formed. 

Roll out into a 30-inch rope with tapered ends. With arms held out wide, hold one end in each hand. Quickly bring ends together in the middle. This motion will cause the rope to twist twice. Place down on the work surface. Bring ends up over the looped side and adjust to make pretzel shape. Press ends into dough and place upside down so ends come out from underneath the pretzel. 

Place on a baking sheet dusted with rice flour and refrigerate for minimum 30 minutes and up to three hours to allow a skin to form. Preheat the oven to 450 F. 

Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Cheese Spread: 

Meanwhile, stir together cheddar and cream cheese in a bowl until smooth. Stir in water, lemon juice, lemon zest, onion, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and mustard until incorporated. Transfer to a ramekin dish and cover.

Lye Water: 

CAUTION! LYE IS VERY CORROSIVE! If you get any on your skin, rinse with water immediately. DO NOT TOUCH OR HANDLE WITHOUT GLOVES.

Put on latex gloves. Cover work area with plastic wrap or aluminum foil.

Pour water into a large glass bowl. Gently stir lye into water to avoid splashing.

Using gloved hands, gently dip pretzels into the lye solution for 10 seconds, flipping halfway through. Using both hands, carefully remove and let excess lye solution drip back into the bowl. Place on prepared pans. 

Sprinkle with salt and bake until deep brown, about 25 - 30 minutes, rotating pans as needed.

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