In anticipation of this year’s Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks, we’ll be sharing articles, recipes, and tips from past winners over the next three weeks. First up: Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain. Learn more about this year’s tournament here.
Today: After you’ve made your Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies, you’ll want something savory. This is it.
These pretzels are soft, chewy, and flavorful, with a slight sourness that comes from boiling them in a baking soda bath. The baking soda also gives the pretzels their traditional dark mahogany color. Be sure to boil only a few pretzels at a time and to use the bath for only a single batch of the recipe — otherwise the baking soda water reduces too far and leaves a metallic bite to the dough. A simple dusting of sea salt, especially flaky Maldon salt, is the best finish to these. Serve a basket full of them with a pot of whole-grain mustard.
2 tablesoons unsalted butter, melted, for the bowl and the baking sheets
1 package active dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup rye flour
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 cup baking soda
Coarse sea salt, such as Maldon
- Measure the yeast into a large bowl. Heat 1 1/2 cups of water in a small saucepan over low heat to a temperature that is warm to the touch, about 100°F, and pour it over the yeast. Add the honey and stir to combine. Add the flours and salt and stir again.
- Dump the sticky dough onto a floured surface and knead. Add up to 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, as needed, until the dough is tacky but not sticky. Knead for about 12 minutes, or until the dough is soft and supple.
- While the dough is rising, place two racks at the top and bottom thirds of the oven and preheat to 450°F. Brush two baking sheets generously with butter.
- Once the dough has doubled, gently pour it from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into 12 pieces. Take each piece of dough and roll it into a snake about 17 inches long, with thinly tapered ends. Don’t flour your surface as you roll; the slight stickiness enables you to roll the dough out evenly and quickly. Form the dough into a pretzel shape by folding one third of the left side over the center of the snake, and then one-third of the right side over the left. Place the shaped pretzels onto the prepared baking sheets. Let the pretzels proof (rise) for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, for the bath, fill a large pot with 10 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Once the pretzels are proofed and the water is boiling, add the baking soda to the water.
- To poach the pretzels, lift 2 or 3 pretzels, depending on the surface area of your pot, into the bath. Boil each side for 30 seconds, use a strainer to remove the pretzels, pat any excess water with a towel, and transfer them back onto the buttered baking sheets. Boil the remaining pretzels. Sprinkle liberally with salt.
- Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. The pretzels should be dark mahogany in color. Transfer them to a rack to cool. These pretzels are best eaten the day they’re made, ideally within the hour.
Photo by Quentin Bacon
This article originally appeared on Food52.com: Kim Boyce’s Soft Rye Pretzels