Concession Stand Pretzels

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I’m sorry for my long stretch of absence. I have been baking, but I seem to always be making the same two recipes: chocolate chip cookies and brownies. They are a favorite in our household and a weekly staple, which doesn’t leave much room—in our plates or in our waistbands—for experimenting with new recipes.

This morning, though, the desire to create something struck. Quite possibly, it’s because I’ve started writing a new book, think Nashville (the TV show) meets RJ Palacio’s Wonder. If you want to find out more about my author life, click here. If you just want to bake, then keep scrolling down.

These doughy pretzels are delicious and super easy to make. The only thing is that like all breads, they take time proofing, so if you start off at 10 am, you’ll get to eat them only around 3 pm. They’re definitely worth the wait though!

 

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Dough

5 g dried granulated yeast

1 tbsp sugar

60 ml water, warm

310 ml milk, warm

1 tbsp butter, melted

1 tsp salt

525 g all-purpose flour

 

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Poaching liquid

1 liter water

30 g baking soda

 

 

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment, whisk the yeast with the sugar and the water. Set aside for 5 minutes until the mixture bubbles. This will mean your yeast is working.
  2. Pour in the milk, butter, and salt, and give it a whirl.
  3. Add the flour and mix on low until the dough comes together around the hook. Knead for 5 minutes on medium.
  4. Coat a clean bowl with baking spray and place your ball of dough inside. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise on a draft-free countertop for 1 hour to 1h30 (until doubled in size).

 

  1. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper, then divide the dough in 8-9 parts. Roll these into long logs, then twist them up like pretzels. Mine just look like knots. Whatever shape, they’ll still taste like pretzels. 😉
  2. Place the sheet in refrigerator uncovered for 3 hours.

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C or 400F.

 

  1. Pour your poaching liquid in a deep pan and bring to a simmer. Once the baking soda dissolves, poach your raw pretzels for 10 seconds.
  2. With a skimming ladle, place them back on your parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Use a sharp knife to make a horizontal notch in the thickest part. Generously sprinkle with fleur-de-sel or coarse sea salt.

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  1. Bake for 20 minutes, until your pretzels are golden and puffed up.

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Fluffy Pancakes

I heart pancakes more than any breakfast treat out there. I love them so much that I make them at least twice a week. I used to make this recipe, which always turns out nice, but I had a consistency issue. Sometimes, they’d be fluffy and sometimes a little flat. So I decided to change things up this morning and use a new recipe I found on Pinterest. As usual, I tweaked it – I took out the sugar which is unnecessary since I ladle maple syrup on top of mine, and I cut out half of the salt. And now, it’s pretty much the perfect-est recipe of pancakes you will ever come across!

 

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1 cup bread flour (not self-rising)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
2 tbsp vinegar
1 egg
2 tbsp butter, melted

 

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1. In one bowl, mix the milk and the vinegar and let sit at least 5 minutes for it to sour.
2. In another bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. Add the egg and the butter to the soured milk. Beat well.
4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and whisk until just homogenous. Don’t over mix!
5. Let batter rest 10 minutes.
6. Heat a griddle on medium-high heat and coat the pan with cooking spray. Once hot, turn the heat one notch lower.
7. Using a soup ladle, drop a ladle-full of batter in the middle of your pan. When little bubbles cover the surface (anywhere from 30 seconds-1 minute), flip your pancake around and cook for another 30 seconds or until nicely golden.
8. Top with maple syrup or jam and devour while they’re still warm!

 

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Mini English Muffins

Last night—while browsing Pinterest—I came upon a recipe for English Muffins. I haven’t had them in a long time, which is a shame because they’re so yummy. They go so well with butter and jam or with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce.

 

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I’m sorry I didn’t photograph the entire process, but they were so easy to make that you really aren’t missing out. I let my dough rise overnight, covered by a dishtowel, and rolled them out on a whole-wheat dusted board first thing in the morning. My English Muffins turned out to be minis because I cut them out with a standard-sized drinking glass. (I need to invest in a proper round cutter.) Last but not least, unlike most breads, these are cooked in a frying pan on your stove top, and not in the oven.

 

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Makes 15 minis

 

¾ tsp instant yeast

150 g warm water

100 grams warm milk

2 cups bread flour (the type of flour really makes a difference)

½ tsp salt

 

Whole wheat flour or semolina for dusting

Cooking oil for coating the pan

 

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  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, mix the yeast with the warm water and the warm milk.
  2. Add the bread flour and salt and whisk on medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until the dough comes together in a slightly sticky ball.
  3. Place in an oiled (I coated mine with non-stick spray) bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise overnight or until doubled in size (2-3 hours).
  4. On a floured surface (I used whole wheat flour but you can use semolina), roll out the dough into a ½ inch thick rectangle. Cut with a round cutter (I used a standard glass).
  5. Deposit on a floured cookie sheet and let rest for 15-30 minutes. It’s OK if they don’t double in size. They will in the frying pan!
  6. Preheat a frying pan coated with a little plain oil over medium-high heat. Once pan is warm, carefully place your raw English Muffins in it. I managed to cook batches of 7 at a time.
  7. After about 3 minutes or when golden brown, flip onto other side and pursue cooking another 3 minutes.
  8. You’ll need to re-oil your pan between each batch. If they’re browning to quickly lower heat a tiny bit.
  9. Enjoy still warm.

 

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Pretzel Bites with Mayo-Free Honey-Mustard Dipping Sauce

Pretzel Bites

Currently I’m obsessed with Pretzel Bites. Actually, my whole household is obsessed with them. And, I don’t use the term obsessed lightly. I’ve made this recipe several times and each time, they’re gone within an hour. One hour!!! Seriously.

Pretzel Bites

This recipe comes courtesy of Two Peas & Their Pod and it’s absolutely perfect as is.

As for the dipping sauce, honestly they pretzel bites are so good they don’t even need one. However, I’m partial to honey-mustard with Pretzels, so that’s the sauce I chose to pair mine with. Enjoy!

Recipe:

Pretzel Bites (original recipe: Two Peas & Their Pod “Soft Pretzel Bites“)
Makes 36-40 bites (original recipe makes twice as many)

3/4 cup warm water

1 tbsp light brown sugar

1/2 package active-dry yeast (1 1/8 tsp)

1.5 oz melted butter (approx 2 1/2 tbsp)

1 1/4 tsp kosher salt

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Vegetable Oil

1/3-1/2 cup baking soda

1 whole egg, lightly beaten

Pretzel Salt (or other coarse salt)

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the water, sugar, yeast and butter. Allow to sit 5-10 minutes until foamy.
  2. Add the salt and flour and mix on low until combined.
  3. Turn the mixer speed up to medium and continue mixing until the dough becomes smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough seems too sticky, add more flour 1 tbsp at a time.
  4. Lightly coat the inside of a medium-sized bowl with the oil. Set aside.
  5. Gently knead the dough into a ball and place in the oiled bowl. Brush the top of the dough with a little oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a draft-free area for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  6. Once your dough is doubled, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 425˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat. Lightly spray with cooking spray and set aside.
  7. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Form each piece of dough into a long rope (17-20 inches long) and cut the rope into 1 inch bites. (Tip: You can use your thumb, from tip to first knuckle, to measure out the pieces.) Set the bites aside.
  8. Bring approximately 2-3 quarts of water to a boil. When the water is boiling, carefully and slowly add the baking soda (too much at once, the water will boil over, and you’ll have a big mess on your hands… spoken from experience). Boil 12-15 bites at a time for 30 seconds, removing them from the water with a slotted spoon, and placing them on the prepared baking sheets. When they cool down enough, you can arrange them on the sheet so that they’re not touching but are close. That way you should be able to fit all the bites onto 1 sheet.
  9. Brush the tops of the pretzel bites with the beaten egg and sprinkle salt all over them.
  10. Bake for 15-18 minutes, rotating the sheet tray at least once during baking. Keep a close eye on them after about 10-12 minutes as they’ll start darkening up very fast and you don’t want them to burn.
  11. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the sheet tray. Then, being very careful (they’ll still be super hot), remove them from the pan and allow to cool on a cooling rack for 10-15 minutes. Dig in and enjoy them while they’re still warm!

Mayo-Free Honey-Mustard Dipping Sauce:

Yellow Mustard

Dijon Mustard

Honey

Optional – olive oil or greek yogurt

In a small bowl combine in equal parts, the yellow mustard, dijon mustard and honey. Stir and dip to your hearts content! If you prefer a more liquid dip, add some olive oil or greek yogurt until you reached desired flavor/consistency.

Croissants

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I have been attempting (key word, attempting) to make puff pastry for the past three months now. Each time, it has been a huge failure. Either the butter melted out of the pastry while baking or the dough failed to rise or the butter snuck out of the raw flour mixture while rolling. Once, I got so fed up that I stuck balls of ruined dough into a muffin pan and baked them. They turned out tasting like croissants, but looking like muffins. Muffants, anyone?

Okay. Muffants aside, I was on a mission. Make and bake real croissants. Being stubborn came in handy because at my fourth attempt, I made it.

 

The 2 keys to achieving puff pastry:

  • Keep all ingredients very cold.
  • When you incorporate the butter disc into the dough, pinch the sides to lock the butter in and don’t over-roll.

 

 

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Ingredients

1 ½ tsp granulated yeast

2 tbsp sugar

1 + 2 tbsp cup warm water

 

1 ½ tsp salt

2 tbsp salted butter, melted

3 cups flour, plus more for working

1 cup cold unsalted butter

 

1 large egg, beaten

 

 

 

Instructions

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, dissolve the yeast and the sugar in the warm water. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the salt and the melted butter to the yeast mixture and 1/2 cup of the flour, and mix until blended. Gradually add the remaining flour and beat until the dough comes together in a sticky ball.
  • On a clean, floured surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 40 minutes.

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  • While the dough is chilling, put the remaining cup of cold butter in a Ziploc and pound with a rolling pin until flat and rectangular (1/3 of the size of the rectangular dough). Place the butter in the fridge to harden (about 40 minutes).

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  • Take your dough out and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Put butter disc in the middle of the dough. Fold one side over the butter, then the other and pinch the sides so that the butter is locked in.
  • Roll it out into another rectangle and place in the fridge 30 minutes to harden.
  • Take out of fridge. On a lightly floured surface, fold the sides up like a letter again and, with the short side facing you, roll out into another 16 x 10 inch rectangle. Fold the ends up like a letter.

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  • Turn dough again so the short side is facing you, and use the rolling pin to press down into a third 16 x 10 inch rectangle. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.

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  • To form the croissants, cut the dough in half and place one half in the fridge while working with the other half. Roll out into a long but not wide strip. Using a sharp knife, cut into triangles.

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  • Using both hands, roll starting at the wider side and tuck the ends together to form the crescent shape. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the croissants on the baking sheet about 2-3 inches apart, cover with a kitchen towel and set to rise in a warm place for 2 hours.

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  • Preheat to 425 degrees F or 200 C. Whisk the egg and with a pastry brush, brush the shaped dough. Bake 18 minutes or until golden brown.

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Optional: To freeze the croissants, after shaping them and placing them on the lined baking sheet, cover and freeze for 2 hours. Remove the pan and place the croissants in a freezer safe bag and seal. Immediately place back in the freezer. To bake, allow the croissants to thaw overnight in the fridge and then bake as directed.

The Overnight Bread

I haven’t made bread in a long, long time. On Friday, I went to my son’s school to cook with his class and I thought the kids would get a kick out of kneading dough and choosing flavorings to throw in. I brought raisins, sesame seeds and chocolate chips. Unsurprisingly, they all chose chocolate chips. Apparently their bread was delicious. I became nostalgic for homemade bread, so last night, I rolled up my sleeves, dusted my kitchen with flour, and whipped up an incredibly easy, hearty bread.

 

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My husband likes light and fluffy breads. This is neither light, nor fluffy, because I didn’t use white flour. But if you substitute the grain flour for white flour, you will get cloud-like bread. Experiment. Throw in the flavorings you like or keep it simple.

I coined it the overnight bread because I let it rise all night on the counter top and threw it in my heated, lidded Dutch oven first thing in the morning.

 

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For 1 loaf:

 

½ tsp active dry yeast

1 ½ cups warm water

2 tsp salt

3 cups of whole-grain flour

¼ cup flax seeds

¼ cup sesame seeds

¼ cup of chia seeds

 

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, mix the yeast and the water and let it froth (this takes 3-4 minutes). It will bubble.
  2. Add all the seeds and the salt and mix on low speed.
  3. Add the flour and mix again until your dough comes together. This is a slightly sticky dough.
  4. Spray a large with cooking spray and place your ball of dough in it. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise on your counter top all night. If your kitchen is cold, place the bowl on your radiator. This is not a bread that triples in volume, but it will puff up when baked.
  5. The following morning, place your empty Dutch oven in the oven and turn it on to 220 C or 450 F.
  6. Once your oven is on the right temperature, with oven mitts, carefully take the Dutch oven out of the oven. Remove the lid. Throw in some oat flakes so that your dough doesn’t stick then drop the raw bread into the Dutch oven. Slash the top of the dough with a sharp knife. Replace the lid with your oven mitt. Then put the Dutch oven back in the oven.
  7. Cook for 30 minutes with lid on. Remove the lid and cook another 20 minutes.
  8. Slide your hot bread onto a cutting board and let it cool for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour.

 

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The Life Bread

It’s a bit of a stretch calling this loaf, bread. It’s more of a dense mixture of nuts and seeds held together by this magical ingredient called psyllium husk. I will not go into any detail about it because the author of the recipe I based my bread on did just that in her post, The life-changing loaf of bread.

 

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I eat most of my bread with peanut butter or cheese so I left out the 3 tbsp of oil she adds to her recipe. I also left out the maple syrup. Maple syrup is delicious, but not necessary if you don’t want any added sugar.

I have made this bread so many times that I have experimented with a variety of combinations of nuts and seeds. My favorite was sunflower seeds + pumpkin seeds + dried cranberries.

Slice and toast for the most fragrant, wholesome, and delicious cracker.

 

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Makes 1 loaf

1 ½ cups water
1 cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup flax seeds
½ cup hazelnuts or pecans or pumpkin seeds
1 ½ cups rolled oats
2 tbsp chia seeds
¼ cup psyllium seed husks
1 tsp fine grain sea salt

½ cup cranberries or raisins (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 F or 180 C and toast the sunflower seeds and hazelnuts (or other nut of your choosing). Bake until golden and fragrant.

2. Pour them into a large bowl and mix in the rest of the ingredients.

3. Place the mixture in a silicone loaf pan and let sit at room temperature for about an hour. The uncooked bread will stick together even when you push away the sides of the mold.

 

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4. Bake at 350 F or 180 C for 20 minutes. Then turn your bread onto a baking sheet and slip off the mold. Cook for another 40 minutes.

5. Slice only when cooled so that it doesn’t fall apart.

 

This is the version with pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and cranberries.

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Banana Chia Seed Bread

A hybrid banana bread. Somewhat wholesome, and somewhat rich. This cake puffs up beautifully in the oven and is full of flavor. I added the chia seeds for their health benefit (their full of omega3 and fiber) and for their crunch. Poppy seeds may be substituted if chia seeds aren’t available. Both speckle the loaf and add just that extra layer of flavor that will make you want one more slice…after your second slice.

 

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Makes 1 large loaf

 

3 eggs

1 cup brown sugar

2 ripe bananas

1 cup 2% milk

¾ cup butter, softened

1/3 cup chia seeds

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups whole-wheat flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 tbsp cinnamon

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  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F or 180 C and grease a loaf pan.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the eggs and brown sugar until mixture becomes light colored and frothy.
  3. Pour in the milk, the butter, and the bananas and beat until creamy.
  4. Add the chia seeds, the flour, the baking powder, the salt, and the cinnamon. Beat until smooth.
  5. Bake for 55 minutes until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

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Maggie’s Challah

I googled “best challah ever”, and Epicurious led me to the Chernowitzer challah by Maggie Glezer. It really, truly is the most amazing challah.

I made three tiny modifications: I took out half the sugar (just because I didn’t want it to taste too sweet),I reduced the yeast because I like my bread to taste like bread and not like yeast (it puffed up fine), and I added a tad bit more flour (because my dough seemed to be stickier than hers –possibly because I used all-purpose flour instead of the recommended bread flour). The result was perfect.

Who doesn’t love a good challah, the brioche-like dairy-free equivalent made on Sabbath? I have a tendency of making it week-round because it goes with everything, from cheese to jam, and can be turned into the absolute best French toast when thickly sliced.

The quintessential shape of challah is usually a braid. It is made by separating the dough in three parts and rolling each one until it becomes a log, then reuniting them and plaiting them. The first time I made challah, I followed a how-to YouTube video. The result wasn’t as pretty as the braids you find in boulangeries, but it was definitely nicer looking than the twisted loaf I made this morning.

Whatever way you decide to shape it, though, it will taste the same: rich and airy, crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Just divine. Absolutely divine. Even if you swear by your grandma’s recipe, give this one a try! It’s too perfect not to.

 

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Makes 1 large loaf

15 g fresh yeast or 3/4 tsp granulated yeast

¾ cup warm water

2 tbsp sugar

4 cups all-purpose flour (or 3 ¾ cups bread flour)

1 ½ tsp salt

2 eggs

1/3 vegetable oil

 

Sesame seeds & fleur de sel for garnish

1 egg for egg wash

 

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the yeast, warm water, and sugar and let sit 10 minutes until mixture bubbles.
  2. Beat in eggs, oil, and salt. Mix until smooth.
  3. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour. Whisk until incorporated.
  4. Set in a bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let double in size, about 1 ½ hours.

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5. Punch down the dough and shape it. Place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover with a kitchen towel. Let rise another 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours or until doubled in bulk. It will continue to rise when baking.

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6. Preheat your oven to 350 F or 180 C.

7. Beat the egg reserved for the egg wash. With clean fingers or with a baking brush, slather the top of the challah with the egg wash. Drizzle with sesame seeds and fleur de sel.

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8. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown and puffed up.

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Seed Bread

Seed Bread | sisterbakers.com

Here is a healthy recipe for you guys that I know you’re going to love. I think the bread works best with all-purpose flour but you can use whole-wheat if you prefer. Compensate for the weight of the whole wheat with an extra 1/4 tsp of yeast and expect  a denser loaf. The base for this recipe is from the absolute best bread recipe on the internet. No joke. This is the original recipe Crusty Bread and it’s awesome. Here is my slight variation.

OSeed Bread | sisterbakers.com

Recipe:

Seed Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 tsp active dry yeast

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/4 cup flax seeds

1/3 cup sunflower seeds

1/3 cup pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup honey

  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, salt, and seeds. Whisk to combine.
  2. Add the honey and 1 1/4 cups of water (add an extra 1/4 cup if your mixture seems too dry). With a spatula or wooden spoon, mix until the water and honey are thoroughly incorporated into the flour mixture. The dough will look very wet.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature in a draft-free area for 12-18hrs.
  4. Preheat your oven to 450˚F. Place the pot you will be baking the bread in, in the preheating oven with the lid on until you are ready to use it. I use a 4 qt saucepan but you can use a 3 qt or lager size.
  5. While the oven and pan preheat, place your dough on a heavily floured surface and roughly form into a ball. Place the plastic wrap over it and let it rise again for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Carefully (it’s 450˚F!!!) pull the pan out of the oven, place your ball of dough inside and put the lid back on the pot. Bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, take the lid off the pan, and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Immediately, take the bread out of the pan when done and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack. Slice, butter, and enjoy!

Seed Bread | sisterbakers.com

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