This one deserves the exclamation mark! It’s that good! In fact, I might just end every sentence in this post with an exclamation mark! Or not!
It took a while to figure out the pretzelization process. At first, I was trying to do it the way my bread machine cookbook said to do it, which was to boil the “pretzel” in plain water, 30 seconds, flip, 30 second, then dip in a baking soda and water solution (then bake it). That works well for the bread machine’s pretzel dough, but not so well for challah. The nooks and crannies of the challah braids would retain liquid and end up soggy and gross.
Finally, a new cookbook came out that described how to make pretzel challah. I didn’t follow the recipe for the challah (I think mine is pretty good as is), but this cookbook said to boil the challah in the baking soda-water solution (rather than plain water then dipped). The solution is basically 1/3 cup baking soda to 4 cups of water. In order to dip my 1-pound loaves I put 12 cups of water and a full cup of baking soda.
Anyway, normal challah recipe, boil for 30-45 seconds, flip, 30-45 seconds, give it a quick drain with some wooden spoons, put it on your silpat, sprinkle with salt (I used kosher salt since I didnt have pretzel salt) and bake as usual.
It looks really dark, but really, it’s “pretzel’d”. And it’s AWESOME!
Makes you wonder what else can achieve pretzel’d awesomeness by boiling in baking soda… I’ll revisit this post later with a witty completion to that thought.