Until Monday night I thought I was horrible at making anything with active yeast aka bread. I used to kill the yeast because the water I was using was too hot until the Family Consumer Science teacher explained to me that your body temp is 98 degrees, so you want to barely feel any heat from the water on your hand or wrist.
So with this advice and a few encouraging words from a friend, I made the pretzel bread recipe from Libbie Summer’s Sweet and Vicious while listening to episodes of Cheers and maybe sipping on a cold brew to off put the heat from the stove. Obviously the bread turned out great and I brought some into work where folks enjoyed it with a grainy mustard and at home I made a fancy grilled cheese with it.
Below is the recipe with all of my notes but if you have questions feel free to comment or tweet at me @thehomemadegood. Also, Libbie’s book has a ton of other great recipes in it and would totally suggest ordering it if you like this one!
Pretzel Bread Recipe
adapted from Libbie Summer’s Sweet and Vicious
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoons warm water 115 F
1/2 cup warm milk (I used half and half)
3 tablespoons butter, melted and room temperature
2 1/2 teaspoon
3 tablespoons packed dark brown butter
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups bread flour (I used all purpose)
1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil (I used 1/2)
1/2 cup baking soda (used for boiling the dough)
1 to 2 tablespoons of pretzel salt or rock salt
a large spider or slotted spoon
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook, put the water, milk, butter, yeast, and brown sugar. For ease of mixing, take a second and break up the packed brown sugar. Mix until combined, then let the mixture rest for 10 minutes, or until it begins to foam. Mix in the salt.
With the mixer on low speed, add 2 cups of flour and mix for 1 minute. Continue to add the remaining flour as needed until the dough forms a firm ball that is tacky, not sticky. You want it to feel like the back of a post-it note. Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl-you can keep it in the mixer bowl if you want. Pour the oil over the dough and begin to flip the dough around a few times to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Using the stand mixer knead the dough for 10 minutes at medium-low speed, until the dough has a satiny shine and is elastic. While you can do other things during this time you want to make sure that you stay in the kitchen because my mixer slowly moved from one end of the counter to the other. Cover the dough and let rise for 1 hour, or until it doubles in size. You can place it on the center of your stove top while preheating the oven to 400 F to possibly speed up the process. You can also complete the steps below as your waiting for the dough to rise.
If you haven’t already, preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a stockpot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Slowly add the baking soda without stirring.
Working with one dough ball at a time, use a large spider or slotted spoon to slowly lower the dough ball into the boiling water. Boil for 30 seconds, turning once to make sure the complete surface of the dough has been covered with water. Remove with the slotted spoon to drain and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the second ball of dough.
Make a cross in the top of each loaf using a sharp knife. The dough looks pretty ugly at this point, but it will pop up and look gorgeous and tasty after baking.
Sprinkle the loaves with salt… lots of salt!
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the loaves are a dark golden brown, turning the sheet around once in the middle of the bake time. Remove the loaves from the baking sheet and let cool slightly before serving.