I’ve never baked bread. No, really, not even in a breadmaker. I was also skeptical, or even fearful of yeast- yes I am strange like that. I kinda remember reading a children’s book about children baking, and the little girl added so much yeast that the dough kept rising, and rising, and rising, until eventually it exploded through the roof.
I am also squeamish about using yeast because it reminds me of fungus, bacteria, and infection. I imagine the yeast multiplying once in contact with your hands, and it will stay on your skin and continue to multiply and spread, and eventually your whole body will be covered with yeast. Don’t ask me how or why I am screwed up like that.
So you have to know that it took me ALOT of courage to want to bake something that isn’t cookies or cupcakes, and resembles bread. I decided to go with pretzels because bread seems so challenging, and I like to take small steps. I googled pretzel recipes and did a few trials, and came up with this version which I really prefer- the pretzel is soft, isn’t too chewy, isn’t overwhelmed with butter (what am I saying?) and crispy at the edges. And as usual, I tried 2 methods- one with a regular oven, the other in the airfryer. I also made mini versions:
For a basic pretzel, you only need 5 ingredients: Flour, yeast, sugar, salt and butter for brushing. You’ll also need to dip your pretzels in hot water with baking soda to fully achieve the slightly chewy texture, aroma and deep brown colour of a pretzel. For the science behind it, go to this page. Julie explains in a simple way. You may, of course, skip this step, but then you would be getting pretzel-shaped bread instead of pretzels. Still edible, but not pretzels.
Experiment with fillings and toppings! As someone who loves variety, you wouldn’t think I’d make an entire batch of sea-salt pretzels, would you? I made four versions: chocolate chip, raisin, cinnamon sugar and garlic onion. I like everything except the raisin.
With the chocolate chip and raisin: Knead them into the dough as you’re rolling them out.
For the garlic onion: Knead a little garlic onion flakes/ seasoning into the dough as you’re rolling them out, but after they’re baked, you brush on melted butter and sprinkle somemore garlic onion seasoning on top.
For cinnamon sugar: Simply roll the dough out, bake, brush with melted butter, then sprinkle on cinnamon sugar.
I am going to give you a basic butter recipe. You can make your own variations as above. Ready for the recipe? Here we go!
Are these amazing or what? You probably have all these ingredients in your pantry, and you will realise that a basic butter pretzel costs what, $0.20 a piece? And that is for regular size? I don’t think you’re going to pay $3 a piece at Auntie Anne’s from now on. I know I won’t! :)