Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Baking Brezels or "The Twisted World of Marge Simpson"
Duncan: Do you guys wanna pretzilfy at my house?
Me & Thanh: YES!
It's quite hard to get good pretzels here. The Brezel Biz wagon does quite good ones, but I only see them at festivals. They make sweet pretzels too - chocolate, cinnamon etc. The Germans I know would gasp in horror at the idea of a sweet pretzel. We asked the owner about it once, at the Dandenong Oktoberfest (which was just as awesome as it sounds - i.e. it wasn't), and she said she'd hardly have any business if she only sold proper salty ones here in Oz. They all taste good to me!
Anyhoo, when the good Herr Doktor Duncan invited us over to make pretzels on a Friday evening, I knew it would only be the most proper traditional salty pretzels. For the whole week beforehand I was salivating at the idea of freshly baked pretzels straight out of the oven..
Sandra and I rocked up on time, and were put straight to work making the dough. (Thanh arrived just in time to eat... he said a work meeting ran late. A likely story, Thanh! Hehe.)
Did you know you can make bread dough in a food processor? I never knew that. And it works really well.
Rolling the dough into sausage shapes is the hard part (or at least it was for me; I realised I am totally inept at rolling decent sausage shapes), especially under the watchful eyes of German Sandra and Macaron-Master Duncan. More than one of mine had to be re-rolled by more skilled hands. Haha!
"Leave the pretzels to rise in a warm place". Is that structurally sound?
Before baking, you're supposed to dip them in a very diluted solution of caustic soda (yes folks, that is the same chemical as drain cleaner), which gives the pretzels their distinctive colour and taste. Even though the liquid is diluted and food-grade, don't stick your hands in it, and keep it AWAY from your eyes! It can also react with aluminium or non-stick trays, so a couple of layers of baking paper is a good idea.
I brought luxury Lurpak Danish unsalted butter to go with the pretzels. Butter is sooooo good. The pretzels were even better than I thought they would be. Which was pretty amazing. Once I've stolen the recipe from Duncan I'll be making them myself at home. I can't believe we only made 12 pretzels. We could totally have eaten more.
Pretzels alone do not make a meal (although some people I know would beg to differ), and Duncan also made a fabulous stew, full of tender pork and red peppers, served with a big scoop of sour cream. YUMMMMM!
We'd been debating all week what to have for dessert, but it seems dessert was decided for us. Duncan happened to receive a massive bucket of peaches from his neighbour (I wish I had neighbours who were so generous with fresh fruit!), so we had peach crumble with home-made coconut ice-cream.
Thanks to Duncan and Thanh for a great night, and to Duncan for hosting!