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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Soft pretzels with sourdough starter

Pretzels in a knotty situation

The ritual of feeding my starter dough is starting to become a challenge. Not that it is difficult to coax the yeast to come back to life. Rather,  I have exhausted my repertoire of sourdough and another feeding would mean another loaf of predictable sourdough bread.

With no better choice, I decided to venture into uncharted territories. Instead of sourdough, I decided pretzels will be a nice challenge. In my previous life, I remember eating pretzels that are tasteless and hard. It is an issue since my teeth has sort of become quite brittle after years of abuse guzzling diet coke.

With these constraints, I set out to make a soft, breakfast sized pretzel. Making bread with sourdough starter always yields a soft pliable dough, a pleasure to shape. I erred on the generous side, adding copious amount of malt syrup, since the glooey stuff refuses to be accurately proportioned anyway. The result? A delicious ,mellow sweet pretzel that is soft to the bite. Coupled with the pink salt crystals on the surface, the pretzel becomes both sweet and savory at the same time - an awesome sensation.

If there is anything to blame, it would be that my rope is too short. The pretzel became a knotty bun and its traditional shape rather indistinguishable.

From my memory, this is the second time I am eating pretzel. And what an amazing snack, a rope bread without the usual commitment for sandwich filling.  It was good on its own and any condiments would be like taking sand to the beach !

Adapted from 

Makes 7 mini pretzels.
Pretzel ingredients :
85 g lukewarm water
114g starter, fed for a day
180g bread flour
20g  milk powder
10g malt( I used about 2 T )
1/2 T canola oil
1/4 t pink salt
1 t instant yeast

Melted butter for glazing
Pink salt for sprinkling

Feeding the starter :
30g starter dough, room temperature
60g lukewarm water
90g bread flour

Day 1 : The night before, take out the starter from the fridge and bring it to room temperature overnight.

Day 2 : The next day, feed starter by adding  one part starter, 2 parts lukewarm water, 3 parts bread flour. Stir until strands of gluten forms. Leave it overnight on worktop, covered to ferment.

Day 3 : starter turns bubbly. You will use 114 g of the fed starter.

Day 3 : pretzel day.

Combine starter,malt, oil  and water until starter is broken up.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, yeast, salt and milk powder. Add this into starter mixture.

Knead dough until dough is smooth and glossy. I use a bread machine (mixer with dough hook is fine ) for this job. 

Let dough rest for 45 minutes. Dough will not appear very much increased in bulk.

Preheat oven to 180 C.

With floured hands, transfer dough on worktop.

Divide into 7 portions.

Roll each dough into a thin rope, about 18 inches.

On a non stick pan, shape the ropes into pretzels.

Mist spray with water.

Sprinkle pink salt or salt flakes on the pretzels. Do not leave it to ferment.

Bake for 19 minutes immediately.

Brush with melted butter.


  1. I've never made pretzels in my life, your blog post has encoruaged me to have a go.

  2. You have done the twist very nicely.

  3. wow! looks so yummy :)
    i love sourdough, only still no gut to try hehe...
    thks for sharing :)

  4. Woww... looks tempting and amazing. thanks for the wonderful recipe.. :)
    Indian Cuisine

  5. Shaheen,
    Have a go. Making it is quite thereupetic !

    Thanks for your compliments.Just a novice here. You have very interesting food at your site :-)

    Do give a try. It was actually quite fail proof.

    Hari Chandana,
    Thanks for your compliments ;-) Your spread of Indian food is very varied and tempting, esp the curries.