Happy Wednesday guys! Hope you had a good weekend! I had an old friend visiting and we had a blast! We ate good food, drank some wine, wandered around Bristol and chatted till the early hours. It was so nice to reconnect in person again.
As there is a perceptible chill in the air now and evenings are closing in, my comfort food cravings are in full force and vegan pretzels have been on my mind for a while. They are almost impossible to get here so I’ve had to get off my ass and make some myself as they are really quite easy to make. Here is how…
To create the dough, mix flour (I used a mixture of all purpose and bread flour), instant yeast (if using active dry yeast be sure to activate it in water first) and salt with melted fat (I used vegan butter) and lukewarm water. Combine them to from a scraggly dough.
Once the dough is holding together, turn it out on to the work surface and knead by holding the dough in place with one hand and stretching it with the heel of another. Reform the dough and repeat, rotating the dough a little each time to make sure you stretch it in different directions. Carry on kneading for about 10 minutes. You can also use a machine if you have one.
Once the dough is elastic and smooth, put it in a clean bowl, cover with a damp kitchen towel and place somewhere warm. The beauty about pretzels is that you almost don’t have to proof them at all if you are in a rush – they will be skinnier and not as fluffy inside. For fluffier pretzels, allow the dough to double in size. This will take – depending on the temperature – about 60-90 minutes. You may find it helpful to take a photo of the dough ball at the start so that you can be sure when it has risen enough.
Punch the air out of the dough and divide it into 8 equal portions, each portion weighing approximately 100 g / 3½ oz. Roll each portion of the dough into a long (60 cm / 24″) snake. You can make it shorter – that’s not a problem – but your pretzels will look more like knotted buns.
To shape the snake into a pretzel, arrange it into a U shape in front of you.Next, place one strand on top of the other…
Then twist the two strands around each other once and fold the top half over the bottom half to create a pretzel shape. Press the ends of the stands into the dough underneath to make sure they don’t come undone during simmering.
Prepare baking soda bath – it’s what gives pretzels their beautiful colour, crispy crust and satisfyingly chewy interior – by combining water and baking soda in a medium size pot. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer – ideally you want small bubbles as big ones will misshape the pretzels. Gently lower one pretzel into the water at a time and simmer it gently for no more than 60 seconds – spoon the mixture over the pretzel to make sure the top also gets bathed in the baking soda solution. Once the time is up, fish the pretzel out carefully and place it on a drying rack to cool off completely.
Sprinkle with flaky salt (or another topping of your choice). Bake and enjoy once they have a chance to cool.
- 500 g / 4 cups wheat flour*, plus extra for dusting
- 2 tsp fine salt
- 12 g / 1 tbsp fine / caster sugar (optional, I skip it)
- 8 g / 2 tsp instant dried yeast*
- 50 g / ¼ cup vegan butter* (I used Naturli), odourless coconut oil or liquid oil
- 50 g / 3 tbsp baking soda
- flaky salt, for topping
- 30 ml / 2 tbsp mustard*
- 15 ml / 1 tbsp vegan mayo
- 15-30 ml / 1-2 tbsp maple syrup, to taste
- 5 ml / 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- salt, to taste
- Place both flours, salt and dried yeast in a large bowl. Mix well.
- Melt vegan butter (or coconut oil) over low heat and measure out 300 ml / 1 and ¼ cups of lukewarm water.
- Pour the liquids into the flours and mix with a spoon to combine roughly. Be aware that if you make any changes to the types of flours (or their ratios) used, you may need to adjust the amount of liquid a little. Also, your brand of flour may be slightly more or less absorbent than mine so be prepared to add (or hold back) a touch more liquid.
- When the dough starts looking scraggly and mostly stuck together, turn it out on to a work surface. If it feels dry, add a touch more water. The dough should not be too sticky and quite easy to work with.
- Knead the dough by holding one end of the dough in one hand and stretching it out by sliding the heel of the other hand into it. Reform the dough, rotate it a few degrees and start again. Repeat this for about 8-10 minutes, until the dough is elastic and smooth.
- Put the dough in a large clean bowl and cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel. Set aside in a warm place, for 20-30 minutes for skinner, less fluffy pretzels and until the dough doubles in size (which usually takes 1-1½ hours ) for fluffier ones.
- While the dough is proofing, line two baking trays with baking paper.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, punch all the air out of it and divide it into 8 identical portions – approximately 100 g / 3½ oz each.
- Roll each portion into a thin 60 cm / 24″ snake. A shorter snake will result in more of a knot-shaped bun.
- Form a U-shape with each snake, form a loop by placing one end on top of the other (see photos), then twist the bottom strand over the top one. Next fold the ends onto itself.
- Bring a medium-sized pot filled with 1 L / 4 cups of water and baking soda to a gentle simmer. Keep an eye on it as it has a tendency to boil over.
- Meanwhile, heat up the oven to 220° C / 425° F.
- One by one, place each pretzel into the simmering soda water. Simmer it for 30 seconds on each side. Fish it out and place it on a drying rack. Carry on with the remaining pretzels.
- Sprinkle with sea salt and bake for about 12-15 minutes, depending how dark you like them (I bake mine for 15 minutes).
- They taste best on the day, but they are also nice toasted or baked very briefly (a few minutes only to crisp the skin again) the day after. Alternatively, freeze in an airtight container for about 1-2 months.
- Mix all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Season with salt to taste.
*FLOUR: I like to use a mixture of AP flour and bread flour, but you can make these with 100% of either of these flours – just be aware that the exact amount of water needed may be a little different due to this change as different flours have different absorbency.
*YEAST: make sure you use the right kind of yeast. I used instant yeast (which gets added directly to the flour), but if you have dried active yeast, for example, it will need activating in the liquid (allocated for this recipe) first. Please follow the instructions on the packet.
*FAT: you can reduce the amount to as little as 25 g / 2 tablespoons (the dough will be a little less indulgent but still tasty). If you do that make sure to use a little more water to compensate for lost moisture.
*MUSTARD: I recommend using 50% Dijon and 50% wholegrain mustard. Check that it doesn’t contain honey as some of them do.
My recipe pretzel dough recipe is adapted from this recipe.