I got at least one thing out of my middle school home economics class: a very simple pretzel recipe. I have always loved salt and hot fresh bread, and pretzels deliver both. Homemade pretzels were my after-school snack at least a few times a week for a couple of months.
Looking back, though, I think it wasn’t a pretzel recipe as much as it was a recipe for heavily-salted bread. There wasn’t even any boiling involved! I suspect they removed that step from the home ec recipe to make the class a bit safer.
Yesterday I finally made a proper pretzel recipe from Good to the Grain, with a good hot baking soda bath and all.
Although I love cooking with weird grains, this is the first recipe I’ve tried from Good to the Grain. This is ostensibly a book about cooking with whole-grain flours. But as I’ve flipped through the book, I’ve been surprised by just how little of the whole grain in question each recipe uses. In general, I think you can usually get away with a 1:4 weird:normal grain ratio without using any fancy tricks. But few of the recipes in this book go much further than this, and some don’t even go this far. I was hoping this book would get me to a 1:2 ratio or even beyond.
If you know of a good source for recipes that use weird grains more heavily, please leave a comment. Until then, I’ll keep trying out my own substitutions. For example, last night I successfully replaced 1/3 of the white flour in Mark Bittman’s baguette recipe with quinoa flour.
My misgivings about Good to the Grain aside, this pretzel recipe is good stuff. The only thing I’d do differently is cut the dough into more pieces and roll it out to the same length so that each piece ends up thinner.
A note on boiling dough, which I’ve done with these pretzels as well as with bagels a few months back: Boiling dough is annoying but not hard. If you are using normal kitchen equipment like a stock pot, it can be really slow going. And it can also be a bit messy, though not nearly as bad as deep-frying.
There is a link to an adapted version of the recipe right here on the New York Times web site.