kitchenklutz: spoons and bowls (Default)
[personal profile] kitchenklutz
Over the past week or so, after finally having an epiphany on how to make yeasty breads rise properly in my rather cool kitchen (namely, let the dough rise in a covered glass bowl near the oven vent with an extended preheating), I've been having quite a bit of fun experimenting with a small handful of recipes.

First off was my test case -- the Mall Pretzels recipe off of Overall, it's really straightforward -- the only part I found, and continue to find, challenging was the shaping of the dough into the "pretzel" shapes after the rise. It just felt like there wasn't quite enough actual dough there to do it properly, particularly with the way the elastic risen dough didn't seem to want to roll out into meter-long pencil-thin ropes for proper twisting.

So I thought, why not play around with the division of the dough? Instead of dicing it into twelve pieces, why not try it with six pieces and a concurrently longer baking time? What about four pieces? I did still try to roll it out into pretzel shapes, but in the end it felt like too much trouble for just having fun experimenting and I chose to put it in loaves instead.

As it turned out, that made for some incredibly tasty bread, particularly once I added to the recipe with minced garlic, various herbs, and a little cheese to top it off.

Here's my recipe:

Italian Herb & Garlic Pretzel Bread


Starter Stage:
* 1 (0.25 oz) package active dry yeast (If you decide, as I did, to go on a baking binge and just get a big container of active dry yeast from CostCo or the like, you'll need to measure 2 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast.)
* 2 tablespoons brown sugar
* 1 1/8 teaspoons salt
* 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

Dough Stage:
* 3 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 cup bread flour
* 1 - 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning (I use Kirkland's Rustic Tuscan Seasoning mix, which is a combination of garlic, sea salt, rosemary, basil, black pepper, oregano, red pepper, lemon peel, and green onion)

Final Prep:
* 6 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
* 2 tablespoons baking soda
* 3 teaspoons Italian seasoning (see above note)
* 2 cups grated cheese (type of your preference; I often use a Mexican or Italian multi-flavor store-bought blend for simplicity's sake)
* 2 tablespoons butter, melted
* 2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt


1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast, brown sugar and salt in 1 1/2 cups warm water. Allow to dissolve for approximately 10 minutes, until the yeast looks frothy. Stir in flours and 1 - 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning, and knead dough on a floured surface until smooth and elastic (approximately 8 - 9 minutes).

(Kneading is really easy once you know how, and there's plenty of videos on YouTube showing how it's done. The simplest way to describe it is this: after gathering the dough together, push the dough down with the heels of your hands until it is relatively flattened. Then turn the dough one quarter revolution, fold in half towards you, and repeat. That's it!)

Form into a ball and place in a greased bowl (I use about 1 - 2 tablespoons of olive oil), turning to coat the surface. Cover with a warm damp cloth and allow to rise for one hour.

2. Combine 2 cups warm water and baking soda in an 8-inch square pan. Line an appropriate number baking sheets with parchment paper. (My experience is that two baking sheets should suffice.)

3. After dough has risen, cut into either six (6) or four (4) pieces. Baking time will depend on how many pieces are to be baked -- larger volumes of dough will require longer baking times. Form each piece into a flattened oblong, and sprinkle minced garlic on the flattened dough. Fold the long edges of the dough in to envelop the garlic, then fold the short ends of the dough over just at the ends to form a rough rectangle. Pinch the seams together to hold; if necessary, use a little bit of water to make the dough stick. Dip each rectangle of dough into the baking soda solution, then place seam-side down on the parchment paper-covered baking sheets. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning on top of each loaf, and top with a small handful of shredded cheese. Allow to rise 15 - 20 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). (Or, if you have a cold kitchen as I do, preheat the oven first and use the venting heat to help your dough rise.)

5. Bake in the pre-heated oven. If you have six loaves, bake for 14-15 minutes; if you have four loaves, bake for 18-20 minutes. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Best served hot, but nearly as good microwaved the next day or two.

I've totally fallen in love with this bread, and its salty goodness seems to be a big hit with everyone I've given it away to as well. Fresh bread -- it's great! (Unless you have a gluten allergy, in which case it's not, and I'm really sorry for your unfortunate dietary limitations. *wry grin*)
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kitchenklutz: spoons and bowls (Default)

March 2015

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