First and foremost, to the precision maniac that I am, I think it is essential to state that Bretzel and Pretzel are not the same thing; it’s not a matter of wrong letter or pronunciation, they are just different foods. Click this link to catch the differences.
Bretzel is from Germany. I’ve eaten the real thing several times, whether at the airport during a layover in Münich, or abroad in the streets of New-York city, in the Dubai Mall in the Emirates, even in the subway in Kyoto, and it’s always been a blast. I equally enjoy eating a bakery-style bretzel or a bretzel from the Auntie Anne’s chain store.
September has come, my last holiday already seems to be long gone – though it’s only been 3 weeks since I returned home – so I need new projects and plans to set my mind on a positive energy level. My husband and I have just decided that this year we will not have a family Christmas, as we absolutely want to travel during this time of the year to Strasbourg and visit its famous Christmas Market. And guess what specialty food we intend to eat there? Bretzels! Indeed, Strasbourg is located in the Alsace region, which happens to be right by the border with Germany. With a long and repeated history of being colonized by the Germans then given back to the French, needless to say that the local culture in Strasbourg is very mixed.
Whereas there are still several months to go before our trip, today I already felt like getting into the ambiance of our forthcoming holidays after I watched La Meilleure Boulangerie de France, the TV show about the art of French bakery, and drooled over images of delicious Bretzels made in Alsace.
A bretzel is a fresh and tender bread that has been dipped into boiling water with baking soda, prior to being baked in the oven. Same as a bagel actually, just a bit more fluffy. It’s not so difficult to make, but it needs full attention and concentration. I think the result of the bretzel I made was honorable for a first. It doesn’t look perfect yet, however the taste and textures are right, which is the most important in the end. Dip your savory bretzel into a creamy cheese sauce, or something to spice it up a bit if that’s your gig, unless you are a sweet tooth and like it better with cinnamon or chocolate sauce!
INGREDIENTS for 3 Bretzels
- 1 1/2 cup of lukewarm water
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 1 bag of dry yeast
- 3 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
- 6 tbsp of butter, melted
- 2 tsp of salt
- 2 eggs (keep 1 yolk for the final egg-wash)
- coarse sea salt, or a mixture of caster sugar and cinnamon, for topping
- Activate the yeast by letting it rest with the sugar and lukewarm water for 5 minutes until it has foamed on the surface.
- When it’s ready, transfer to a large mixing bowl or in your bread maker.
- Add the following ingredients in the following order: flour, butter, salt, 1 whole egg and 1 white (keep the yolk for later).
- Knead the dough for about 10 to 15 minutes until it’s soft and no longer sticky.
- Grease a large bowl, transfer the dough, and seal a plastic film over. Let the dough rise for about 75 minutes in a lukewarm environment.
- When time’s up, get ready for the next steps. Preheat the oven at 220 degrees C.
- Lightly flour your kneading surface and start kneading again. After a couple minutes, divide the dough in 3.
- Line a drawer of your freezer with parchment paper.
- Roll each piece of dough and form the Bretzels into their original shape.
- Freeze for about 45 minutes.
- Transfer the parchment paper onto the oven baking tray.
- Start boiling water in a large pan with baking soda.
- Dip each bretzel (one at a time) 15 seconds on each side, quickly remove and put back on the parchment paper.
- Using the remaining egg yolk, egg-wash the bretzels and finish with the topping of your choice.
- Bake in the oven at 220 degrees C. for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.
Created and Written by Sophie Rebibo-Halimi. © 2018 All Rights Reserved.