Help with Pretzels!

Discussion in 'Bread' started by Heather A, Mar 8, 2018.

  1. Heather A

    Heather A New Member

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    Hey guys!

    This is my first post, but I'm at a loss! I made my first from scratch dough for pretzels a couple of weeks ago and everything went great for 3 batches. I went to make another batch and the dough was horrible! It was dry and crumbly and ended up knocking the mixer around it was so dense. Not a singe thing has changed in my recipe so I'm completely dumbfounded. I've tried 6 more times and it's the exact same every time.

    Any tips would be greatly appreciated!!
     
    Heather A, Mar 8, 2018
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  2. Heather A

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to the forum. Not seeing the recipe, it’s impossible to help you troubleshoot. Please post the recipe including the type (all purpose, bread flour, whole wheat, etc) and brand of flour. While on the face of it it sounds like a hydration issue, correcting it depends on what is causing the hydration issue.

    Flour is NOT created equal. The brand and type of flour determines protein content. Protein content in turn determines hydration absorption rate and capacity. So seeing the recipe is key to helping you sort through the problem.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Mar 8, 2018
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  3. Heather A

    Becky Administrator

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    Welcome to our group! :) Yep, it would definitely be useful to see your recipe. Also are you measuring by weight or volume?
     
    Becky, Mar 9, 2018
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  4. Heather A

    Heather A New Member

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    http://honestcooking.com/philly-style-soft-pretzels/

    This is the recipe I've been using. I've been measuring by volume, but being careful to make flour, salt, and sugar even with the top of the measuring cup. I've been using kroger brand all purpose flour, granulated sugar, and active yeast. It always seems like it wants to be that sticky slightly moist textute, then it starts to crumble and dry before everything is mixed together.

    Would it make a difference if I pour all the flour in at one time or scoop it in while it's mixing?
     
    Heather A, Mar 10, 2018
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    Norcalbaker59 likes this.
  5. Heather A

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    This information is helpful. You can definitely make some changes in the cooking and flour. And I think it might help to use a different recipe

    Flour: Grocery store brands constantly change the suppliers for there products. So it’s not possible to know what the protein content of their flour. And protein matters.

    If a particular lot of flour was provided by mills from Gold Metal or Pillsbury. the protein content is going to be about 10%. If it was a supplier such as King Arthur the protein content will be 11.7%. That’s a significant difference. A difference that will affect the absorption rate of flour.

    To ensure consistency I would recommend you use King Arthur all purpose flour. Aside from consistency in protein content, a higher protein flour produces a better texture in a pretzel.


    Cooking: The other problem is the baking soda boiling water dip.

    Baking soda out of the box is not alkaline enough to produce the nice brown crisp chewy exterior. Commercially produced pretzels are given a lye dip to produce that beautiful crust. But lye is extremely high alkaline and very caustic. So it’s not something a home baker that is not been properly trained should ever use.


    Lye has a ph of 13 - 14. Baking soda out of the box has a ph of 8 - 9. But if the baking soda is baked, it will increase the ph to about an 11. It’s still less than the pH of lye, but the increase in ph will produce a better crust on your pretzels.


    Recipe: Below is a link to a recipe and tutorial on soft pretzels. The recipe developer studied ratios of flour to hydration in a number of pretzel recipes. Those ratios are reflected in her recipe. While I’ve not made this particular recipe I have used several of her recipes with good results. She also uses the baked baking soda dip method.

    The recipe developer also adds barley malt syrup to the baking soda dip. This is to add more complexity of flavor. Some recipes use beer since its barley based. You can use the barley malt syrup or not.

    Soft pretzel recipe

    https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-soft-pretzels-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-195974


    NOTE: THE KITCHN USES THE DIP AND SWEEP METHOD TO MEASURE FLOUR.


    The Kitchn dip and sweep

    https://www.thekitchn.com/measuring-dip-and-sweep-45962


    You can learn about baked baking soda in the article linked below.


    If you do not want to read the article the instructions here’s the instructions to bake baking soda:


    “Just spread a layer of soda on a foil-covered baking sheet and bake it at 250 to 300 degrees for an hour. You’ll lose about a third of the soda’s weight in water and carbon dioxide, but you gain a stronger alkali. Keep baked soda in a tightly sealed jar to prevent it from absorbing moisture from the air. And avoid touching or spilling it. It’s not lye, but it’s strong enough to irritate.”


    Article on baked baking soda

    https://mobile.nytimes.com/2010/09/15/dining/15curious.html?referer=


    On a final note, Andrea Slonecker is considered the master of the pretzel in the US. She wrote a cookbook exclusively on home pretzel making. So if you want to expand your knowledge on home pretzel making, she would be the go to resource.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Mar 11, 2018
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    Becky likes this.
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