Rachel’s Sourdough Pretzels
compiled from PJ Hamel: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2011/04/28/soft-scrumptious-and-sourdough-pretzels-from-your-discard-starter/ and Margot's blog http://soursaltybittersweet.com/content/roasted-garlic-mustard-sourdough-soft-pretzels
Mix wet ingredients:
3/4 cup lukewarm water
1 cup unfed sourdough starter, straight from the refrigerator (or use fed starter)
2 tablespoons brown sugar (or non-diastatic malt powder or reg sugar)
1 tablespoon butter (or veg oil) (could also use 1 head roasted garlic, mashed into paste with butter, or dijon/other mustards or other spices)
Mix dry ingredients:
3 cups bread flour (add 2 xtra Tbsp water for highest gluten flours) or all-purpose flour, or mix of both
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2- 2 teaspoons rapid rise instant yeast
Mix all together until you’ve made a cohesive dough.
Knead dough until it forms a smooth ball. For the chewiest pretzels, knead for 15 minutes (15-25 by hand) until you get a baker's windowpane.
Spray mixing bowl lightly with oil, place ball of dough in the bowl, and turn to coat. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, for about 3-5 hours (3 hrs min-24 hrs max). The longer you let it rise, the more sourdough flavor. If you need to wait more than 24 hrs, you can refrigerate it and bring back to room temp.
When ready to form pretzels, bring 5-10 cups of water to boil with 1/3-2/3 cup of baking soda.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased work surface. Fold a few times to deflate, then shape into a rectangle.
Score once lengthwise, then 5 times crosswise, to make 12 pieces.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap, so it doesn’t dry out as you work.
Roll each piece of dough into 12-18″ rope. Keep the other pieces covered.
Twist the ends, and bring them down and under to make that classic pretzel shape. Or make logs or nubbins- whatever suits your fancy.
You can shape two at a time to boil and keep the rest of the dough pieces covered.
Preheat the oven to 450°
Two at a time, gently place the pretzels in the boiling baking soda bath. Boil for 1 minute, turning halfway through. Using a spatula or slotted spoon, remove to a colander to drain while the next batch boils, then transfer to a baking sheet coated in oil or lined with parchment paper and cover.
When all are shaped, whisk a raw egg with a tablespoon or two of buttermilk (or milk or water), and brush the tops of the pretzels. Sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake for 15 minutes (@ 450°), or until the crust is a deep, glossy brown.
Eat right away, or store in a paper bag. Plastic/airtight containers make 'em soggy.
Here is the result!