Bavarian Pretzel (soft pretzel) problem

Discussion in 'Bread' started by CaminoBaker, Jan 11, 2018.

  1. CaminoBaker

    CaminoBaker New Member

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    Hi,
    This is my first post, I bake Bavarian pretzels and have used several recipes. My problem is the pretzels are heavy (weight)? I have tried to vary the amount of liquid used but it doesn't matter, pretzels are heavy. Does anyone have any recommendations to lighten the weight of the pretzels? Thanks, CaminoBaker
     
    CaminoBaker, Jan 11, 2018
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  2. CaminoBaker

    Apocalypso Well-Known Member

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    Are you using a family recipe, or can you share which recipes you are using? It looks like they vary considerably.

    Gemma Stafford (Bigger Bolder Baking) featured a pretty simple, no-knead recipe in her video feed, , and recipe (http://www.biggerbolderbaking.com/homemade-soft-pretzels/). Hers contain no fat in the dough, but she does brush with melted butter when they are done baking. I have been meaning to try this recipe since it allows for fermentation overnight, which sounds like it would add a lot of flavor. Note, this recipe uses bread flour, as do most of those. Do you use bread flour?

    Many of the Auntie Anne's (US shopping mall franchise) copycat recipes contain fat, either vegetable oil or butter in the dough. This one has both milk and butter, and a richer dough is going to yield a richer pretzel. This one looks like it knows what it's doing:

    However, probably the basics of pretzels are the same as bread, which starts with proper kneading and not working too much flour into your dough. Do you use a stand mixer, food processor, or other machine to work the dough or do you do it entirely by hand? I use a pretty basic KitchenAid most of the time, and in order to spare the motor, I've begun doing most of the dough hook work with less than the total amount of flour. I let it work and work at a pretty soft dough, then if the dough needs a bit more flour in order to get to a smooth ball, I work that in at the very end. I've also become a fan of letting the dough proof more slowly, say overnight in the refrigerator, which allows the yeast to grow more slowly. (No knead doughs work like this, using time as the heavy-lifting tool.)

    Finally, I've become a big fan of the tangzhong method of making lighter breads. It's simply taking about 10% of the flour for the recipe aside, and mixing it with water (or milk) from the recipe (generally about a 5:1 liquid to flour ratio), heating in a skillet or saucepan until it thickens, and the flour releases all its starches. This mixture, cooled, is added to the dough recipe. Just make sure you keep track of your ingredients. for example, if you took 25g of flour out of your main recipe, and added 125g of water to make the tangzhong roux, you'll need to make sure you subtract that 125ml of liquid from the rest of your dough recipe. For more detail about what the tangzhong does, here's a Cooks Illustrated article (It doesn't seem to be behind their pay wall at this point) https://www.cooksillustrated.com/articles/141-the-fluffiest-dinner-rolls

    I'm not sure what we Americans think of soft pretzels now are really in the Bavarian tradition anymore. The last time I had one was from the Wawa convenience/food store chain, and while they are really tasty, they seem much lighter, richer, and sweeter than the more German-style soft pretzels I remember from years ago. So, if you're working with a more European recipe, I'd expect a leaner, chewier pretzel.
     
    Apocalypso, Jan 11, 2018
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  3. CaminoBaker

    CaminoBaker New Member

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    CaminoBaker, Jan 13, 2018
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  4. CaminoBaker

    CaminoBaker New Member

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    Apocalypso,

    My recipes are old family recipes, I can share that I use a Hungarian flour and bread flour, 3 cups each. 3 TBS butter, 1 TBS sugar, 1/2 TBS salt, 1/2 TSP Diastatic malt and 1 cup water. I don't like my dough hook, so I knead by hand. Let rise for 2 hours, separate dough into 2 equal parts and place in refrigerator for 12 or more hours. When taking dough out, cut into 12 equal sizes and rest covered. Shape into pretzels or 8 Inch sticks and place in boiling pan of water and baking soda for 20 seconds. Use slotted spoon to remove and place on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Paint on some eggwash and sprinkle sone pretzel or ses salt. Bake at 410 for 16 to 20 minutes
     
    CaminoBaker, Jan 13, 2018
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  5. CaminoBaker

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Apologies for entering a conversation in progress...

    The texture of pretzels depends on everything: protein content, extraction rate, flour treatment, type of yeast, time and temperature of fermentation, mixing method, and baking method.

    There’s no such thing as Hungarian Flour. At the turn of last century a miller in Colorado marketed his flour as “Hungarian”. The only thing that made it “Hungarian “ was the miller was of Hungarian ethnicity. The mill was sold to a corporation and operations relocated long ago.

    There’s some misinformation on the Internet about it being some special Hungarian milling process. But the flour was simply stone ground like many flours on the market. And in fact today stone ground flours are readily available.

    The designation of “ high altitude” referred to the hard red winter wheat cultivated at high altitude. This type of wheat contains a higher protein content than other varieties of wheat cultivated at lower altitudes and marketed as all purpose flour.

    All purpose flour has a protein content of 10% - 11.7% depending on brand. Bread flour is about 1% higher in protein content. High altitude flour is about 2% or more above all purpose flour

    However, the Hungarian flour currently marketed by Conagra has roughly the same protein content as all other commercial bread flour.

    • King Arthur Bread Flour 12.7% protein, unbleached, malted
    • Gold Medal Bread flour 12.2 - 12.7% protein, unbleached, malted
    • Conagra Hungarian High Altitude 12% protein, bleached

    Some 50 years ago the mega food conglomerate, Conagra, purchased the Hungarian Flour mill in Colorado and relocated the operations to their mill in Nebraska. At the time Conagra operated under the name of Nebraska Consolidated Mills. The flour since has been milled by the same commercial methods, in the same facilities as billions of tons of commercially

    The only real high altitude, high gluten flour that I know of that is available to retail customers today is Central Milling’s Organic High Mountain, High Gluten flour 13.5% protein. Central Milling is primarily a miller to the trade, but they make a few flours available to retail customers online and at their headquarters in Petaluma, CA. They supply flour to the top bakeries in the nation: Tartine, Josie Baker, Acme Bread. The quality of their flour surpasses anything you can buy in a grocery store.

    You derive zero benefit from the commercial Hungarian Flour as it is not the same wheat cultivar as the flour that was purchased and used at the time your family recipe was developed.

    Aside from the protein content, the other factor that plays a large role in the texture of the pretzel is the baking process. Pretzels are treated to a lye solution before baking. Lye is very caustic so requires training for proper safety and handling. Home bakers have taken to using the baking soda solution as an alternative to the lye. The problem is baking soda is not alkaline enough to produce the same results as the lye. Lye has a ph level of about 13.5. By contrast baking soda is pH level is about 8.4.

    To better replicate the lye solution you need to increase the pH level of your baking soda.

    You can do this easily by baking the baking soda before you use it.

    https://www.cooksillustrated.com/how_tos/6399-professional-quality-soft-pretzels-at-home

    Remember that by increasing the alkalinity of the baking soda you do need to take care in handling it. While it won’t burn a hole in your skin it can cause skin irritation. Handle it with gloved hands and be careful not to get it in your eyes.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Jan 13, 2018
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  6. CaminoBaker

    lovetobake New Member

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    I heard this process also prevents the pretzels from smelling fishy after storage.
     
    lovetobake, Jan 20, 2018
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  7. CaminoBaker

    AuntJamelle Well-Known Member

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    Norcalbaker59 - You just ROCK! I've made pretzels at home a couple of times and they were just ok. I think it's time to try again!
     
    AuntJamelle, Jan 31, 2018
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