February 15, 2009

peppery sourdough pretzels with nutritional yeast sauce

What best says "happy valentine's day, honey"?? Homemade pretzels with locally brewed beer! Luckily for us, Boulder has a local brewery that sells growlers! Mmmmm...

Serving Size: 15 pretzels

Pretzel Ingredients:
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. white flour
1/2 c. sourdough starter
1 1/2 c. warm water
1/2 c. warm water
4 T. oil
2 t. salt
2 t. fresh ground pepper
3 cup white flour

Nutritional Yeast Sauce Ingredients:
1 1/2 c. nutritional yeast
1 c. soy milk
1/4 c. oil
1 t. salt
1 t. onion powder
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. paprika
1/2 t. black pepper

We love sourdough bread so we figured that our pretzels should be sour as well. The sourness in sourdough comes from a starter of slightly fermented water, honey, yeast and flour. Other than the taste, the best thing about sourdough is that you keep the fermented yeast culture alive and add it to the bread you bake for your entire life which means that you could avoid buying new yeast ever again!

If you do not have a sourdough starter already, you will have to get one started 6 days in advance of your targeted pretzel feast. We made our sourdough starter from a recipe in the Tassajara Bread Book (50/50 white flour and wheat flour) though any starter recipe from the internet will work. The basic idea is that you mix together warm water, honey, dry yeast, and flour. Then you put the starter mixture in an open jar and allow it to ferment for five days stirring the mixture once a day. Once you have a sourdough starter, you rejuvenate it every week or so by starting a new loaf of bread as explained below.

After the sourdough starter has fermented for 5 days, put flour in a large bowl and add sourdough starter. Pour in warm water and mix into a thick paste. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and set it in a warm place overnight. In the morning or afternoon, remove 1/2 c. of the paste (the same amount of starter that you put in) and save it as your future sourdough starter. Your rejuvenated sourdough starter should now be stored in the fridge and refreshed about once a week as just described.

You can now add the other pretzel ingredients to the paste
. Knead the dough for 5 minutes adding more flour or water as necessary. Let it rise for 2 hours in an oiled bowl in a warm place.

Grab fist fulls of dough and roll them out to 1/2" diameter. Form the rolls into classic pretzel shapes and pinch down the twists and ends with some water. Bring 8 c. of water to boil with 1/4 c. baking soda dissolved in it. Gently drop the pretzels into the boiling water one or two at a time making sure they don't touch. Let them boil a minute on each side and remove to a wire rack. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

For the classic pretzel crust, bush a milk and egg white wash on the pretzels. A great alternative is to simply brush them with olive oil and/or soymilk. Next sprinkle the pretzels with your desired toppings like salt, sesame seeds and poppy seeds. Place the pretzels on cookie sheets. So the pretzels don't stick to the cookie sheets, sprinkle cornmeal where the pretzels will rest. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 425 degrees.

The nutritional yeast dipping sauce is super easy. Mix the ingredients with a blender and serve heated or at room temperature.

Side Note:
If you are unable to eat all of your pretzels immediately they will store fine for a few days in a paper bag or wrapped in a cloth. Otherwise, you can freeze the leftovers and reheat them some later day.

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