Sourdough Pretzels

This is a great recipe to use up the cup of discarded starter from when you feed your sourdough.  It’s a very easy recipe that does not call for boiling soda water.  I like that very much because last time I made pretzels I found out that the bubbles that form on top of the boiling soda water can burn your hands when you are dropping the pretzels into the boiling soda water.  Which made me very sad and made dropping the rest of the pretzels into the boiling soda water extremely very not fun!  So, if you are a diehard pretzel fan and insist on dropping them into boiling soda water (or lye water), you may not like this recipe.  But some of you might enjoy it even more.  Like I do.  And I suppose that if you really really want to, you can go ahead and drop them into boiling soda water.  I really don’t mind.

Sourdough Pretzel Recipe

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp yeast

1 Tbsp melted butter

1 Tbsp honey

1/4 cup nonfat dry milk

3/4 cup lukewarm water

1 cup unfed sourdough starter (can come straight out of the fridge)

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

For Topping Pretzels

1 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp hot water

pretzel salt, sea salt, or kosher salt

2 Tbsp melted butter

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.  Mix all ingredients and knead until you get a dough that is fairly smooth, but slightly sticky.  Cover the dough and let it rise for about 45 minutes.  It is not going to rise very much so don’t get worried when it doesn’t.

Punch the dough down to deflate it and turn it out onto a lightly greased (not floured) work surface.  Divide the dough into 12 pieces.  Roll each piece into a rope about 18 inches long and fold and twist into the classic pretzel shape.  Or any other shape that happens to catch your fancy.  Place the pretzels on a buttered or parchment paper covered cookie sheet.  Dissolve the sugar into the hot water and brush over the tops of the pretzels.  Sprinkle with salt.  Here’s the best part:  the pretzels don’t have to rise and they don’t take a dip in the boiling soda water!  Yay!

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes until they are lightly browned.  Remove the pretzels from the oven and brush with the melted butter.  The butter will keep them from getting hard.

So tell me, what is your favorite pretzel shape?

Sourdough 101: Part 7

I am very sad to tell you that I have had some issues with my phone today and wasn’t able to take any pictures of Beowulf for you.  But, not to worry, he’s still bubbling away and rising nicely.  Today were feeding numbers 12 and 13.  Your starter should be close to doubling after every feeding by now.  Keep in mind, too, that after rising it will start to deflate.  So in the morning when you get up, it might have already risen and deflated without you seeing how high it got.

Tomorrow morning will be feeding number 14.  After that, I will be able to use the starter to begin baking yummy things.  Before then, I would like to give you a few things to keep in mind when using your starter.

The longer you let it sit, the more tangy the end product will be.  For instance with waffles, I mix the batter right before I use it.  We like a mild sourdough taste.  If you want it tangy-er you can mix the starter, the flour, and the liquid the night before and let it sit all night.

You need to always keep 1/2 cup to 1 cup of starter.  If you are not going to be using your starter that often, you can keep it in the fridge.  About once a week you’ll need to take it out, let it come to room temperature, and feed it.  If you are going to put it right back in the fridge without using it, you’ll feed it in the same way we have been doing this week.  Remove half, add 1/4 cup water and 3/8 cup flour.  If you are going to be using it, you’ll need to “build it up”.  Which brings me to the next thing to keep in mind.

You should never feed your starter more than 3 times the amount that you start with.  For instance, if you have 1 cup of starter, you should not add more than 3 cups of water and 3 cups of flour to it.  If you have 2 cups of starter, no more than 6 cups of water and flour.  Let’s say that I know I want to bake some bread tomorrow.  My bread recipe calls for 3 cups of starter.  What I’ll do is take the starter out of the fridge in the evening and let it come to room temperature.  I will pour it in a stoneware mixing bowl.  I always keep a cup of starter, so I can go ahead and add 3 cups of water and 3 cups of flour to the starter and mix it up.  I cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a bread cloth and let it sit on the counter over night.  In the morning, I measure out the amount I need for my bread into another bowl.  If at this point I am going to put the starter back in the fridge, I measure 1/2 cup into a jar and add 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of flour.  I let that sit out for a few hours until it starts to rise, then put the lid on and put it back in the fridge.

What has been happening lately at my house is that the starter doesn’t go in the fridge.  Ever.  I have been using it almost every day.  It sits in a stoneware bowl on my cabinet.  I feed it enough at night for what I’m going to do in the morning.  After that, I feed it again for the evening.  Say that tomorrow I am going to make waffles for breakfast, bake bread in the morning, and fix biscuits to go with supper.  Here is what I would do.  I know that my waffles recipe calls for 1 cup of starter and my bread recipe calls for 3 cups.  So in the morning I need 4 cups of starter to use and 1 cup to save.  Because I have only 1 cup of starter to begin with, I can only add 3 cups of water and 3 cups of flour.  That wouldn’t give me enough to use and to save.  So today about noon I’m going to start building it up for tomorrow.  I will add 2 cups of water and 2 cups of flour, stir, and cover.  Now I have about 3 cups of starter.  Then tonight before I go to bed I will add another 2 cups of water and 2 cups of flour, stir, and cover.  Now tomorrow morning when I get up, I have enough starter for the waffles and the bread and about a cup to save.   We eat the waffles, I clean up the kitchen and now it’s time to start the bread.   After I have measured out the starter for the bread, I’ll then build the starter up again so that I have enough for the biscuits for supper.  I know it sounds like a lot of maintenance, but it really only takes a few minutes to stir stuff together.  The biggest thing, really, is having to do a little planning.

I just re-read that and it sounds complicated.  But it really isn’t.  You just need to get the hang of it.  If it sounds a little intimidating to you (which it was to me the first few times I read instructions like that!), I would suggest starting out with only using it once a day.  I promise that once you get in the swing of things, it becomes second nature.

Tomorrow I will post my favorite sourdough bread recipe for you to start with.  I can’t wait!  Until then, I will leave you with a look at the pretzels I’ve been experimenting with.  I’m not completely happy with the recipe yet, but the kids said they “weren’t bad”.

Sourdough Soft Pretzels