After planning it for quite some time, I finally decided to try making pretzels. I love freshly baked pretzels – what a perfect afternoon snack! I frequently get them in the mall kiosks (Auntie Anne’s is the store of choice for me).
About 2 years ago, I received an Auntie Anne’s pretzel making kit and I made some fresh pretzels at home. They were good, and the Auntie Anne’s pretzel making process was well-defined. As it turns out, making them from scratch is relatively easy as long as you have some specialty ingredients on hand.
For my pretzels, I used the FCI recipe (demonstration) found in their book. To make pretzels at home (according to the FCI recipe), you will need some high gluten flour. I used “Sir Lancelot” from King Arthur Flour. You will also need some malt syrup. I used King Arthur’s Organic Barley Malt Syrup. The other ingredients are fairly standard.
The FCI recipe is too large / stiff for the KitchenAid Artisan tilt-head stand mixer. You will have to divide the recipe in half if you want to prevent overloading your machine. Mixing is really straightforward.
After diving the dough into equal portions and letting it bench rest, the dough is rolled into a long, thin baguette and shaped into the classic pretzel shape. After sufficiently rising, the shaped pretzels are given a quick bath in boiling water that has been augmented with baking soda. This promotes a deep brown crust on the pretzels.
For toppings, I opted to take 6 of the pretzels and use coarse Himalayan sea salt. For the other 6, I buttered them, and then I mixed caster sugar with cinnamon powder and topped them with a sweet topping.
As soon as these fragrant pretzels emerged from the oven, the doorbell rang. What timing! All of the pretzels were consumed in record time.
The crumb was appropriate but the pretzels (alone with no toppings) seemed to lack depth of flavor. This bears further investigation. Most sources recommend using a caustic lye solution as opposed to a quick-boil in a baking soda solution. The Auntie Anne kit used a different method – dip the pretzels in a cold solution of water and baking soda.
My pretzels got a lot puffier than I think they should be. This is mostly likely because they slightly overproofed. They also didn’t get that deep, dark pretzel brown. I would love to hear from other people who have used the FCI recipe or others who have a different pretzel recipe.
For cinnamon-sugar pretzels, I will probably opt to use the Auntie Anne’s pretzel kit next time. For making pretzel rolls, pretzel breadsticks or other things, the FCI formula would be ideal.