I love cooking shows. No matter how terrible the cooking show is, I will watch it. I love how dramatic they can become, I love how personal they get, I love everything cooking shows. So it really shouldn’t be a surprise that I fell in love with “The Great British Baking Show”. If you have yet to watch this show, please add it to your list. To some the show up in a word: Delightful.
Not only is it a show that focuses primarily on baking (my favorite), but it has a completely different mentality than most American cooking shows. Unlike shows like Top Chef, which focuses on back stabbing and sabotages and the tension between competitors, The British Baking Show focuses on the love of baking. There is never that one guy that is here “just to win” and will do whatever it takes. They all want to win… but are seemingly content if they don’t. It is a wonderfully hypnotic show, and I recommend it for any food lover.
But there's one problem with watching these TV shows. The chefs make it look so easy that I immediately think ‘Oh… I can do that.’ So guess what? I did it. I have been baking up a storm lately. I have been making everything: loafs of bread, cookies, rolls, pretzels. I even took a bread baking class at The Chopping Block called How to Bake Bread. It’s awesome! You make Potato Rosemary Focaccia, amazing Cinnamon Rolls, and a wonderfully simple Whole Wheat Baguette. If you are just starting to venture into the world of baking, take this class! It’s wonderful. You go over exactly what yeast is doing when it bubbles, why we knead dough the way we knead it, and so much more. It is just a treasure trove of great knowledge for anyone who is starting to bake.
I want to share with you this awesome pretzel recipe that is great for beginners. It’s a great recipe because it doesn’t take too much more than what you would have in your pantry, and it’s a little more exciting than just baking a loaf of bread. Don’t get me wrong though, I love a loaf of bread. But these little guys seem a little more impressive when shared.
Homemade Soft Pretzels
1 Package of yeast
1.5 cups of warm water
1 tablespoon of sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4.5 cups all-purpose flour
Half stick of butter, melted
2/3 cups of baking soda
1 egg yolk
Pretzel salt (or Kosher Salt)
1. Combine water, sugar, and kosher salt. Sprinkle yeast on top. Let sit for 5 minutes.
2. Add flour and melted butter. Mix by spoon, then by hand.
3. Remove dough from bowl and put into clean bowl coated in oil.
4. Place dough in warm place, covered, for 50-55 minutes. It’ll double in size.
5. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
6. Lightly oil parchment paper lined baking sheet.
7. Bring 10 cups of water to a boil. Add baking soda.
8. Once dough has doubled in size, divide into 8 portions.
9. Form into pretzels by patting portioned dough into a rectangle. Roll the dough up to make a long cylinder. Then roll the dough from the middle of the dough to the outside until it has reached about 22 inches in length. With that, make the pretzel shape.
10. Place pretzels in boiling water one by one for 30 seconds.
11. Place on baking sheet and brush with egg yolk mixed with one tablespoon water. Sprinkle with Salt (I used the Everything Bagel Salt we have at the store!)
12. Bake until dark, about 12-14 minutes.
13. When they’re all done either put them on a drying rack, or put them on a separate surface upside down so the bottoms don’t get soggy.
And there it is! Super simple but not too simple. It’s a really great intro if you’re looking to get your feet wet with baking.
If you are interested in learning bread-making techniques from the pros, check out our upcoming How to Bake Bread class at Lincoln Square on Friday, November 27 at 10am. We have more bread making classes coming later this year.