Soft Baked Pretzels

One of my New Year ¬†‘resolutions’ was to bake more bread/dough based recipes. I’ve mentioned in my blog a couple of times that it is one of the baking areas that I feel less confident in. The main reason for this being unsuccessful proving in the past. So this year, I aim to bake a new bread/dough based recipe once a month.

January saw me making my first rye bread. Over the last few months, rye bread has become one of my favourite bread options. Especially toasted for breakfast with smashed avocado or almond butter and banana. I particularly like the dense texture which is one reason why Mr W doesn’t like it. For this bake I followed the suggested recipe on the back of the dark rye flour pack. It was an easy recipe to follow (although the addition of a beaten egg threw me a little) and the end result was a decent, although basic, rye loaf. This recipe was more like the rye breads that you can buy from the bakery section in your local supermarket as opposed to a traditional rye bread. Although it did have the addition of caraway seeds which gave it a slightly aniseed taste which took a while to get used to when eating for breakfast. I’m going to attempt this bake again and follow a recipe Paul Hollywood recipe. His ‘How To Bake’ book has a number of different ones.

February found me wonder what to bake. I didn’t want to bake another bread as I wanted a new challenge. Also, I want to attempt sour dough but I am waiting until summer so I have warmer temperatures to get a starter growing. Mr W didn’t like my suggestion of attempting doughnuts again so I asked my sister for suggestions. I should have guessed what she would want me to bake. Her favourite bakery snack that she had to have every day whilst we were in Germany. Pretzel. A soft baked pretzel. I tried to put her off them by telling them that they were dipped in caustic acid before being baked (honest fact there, it gives them the crunchy outer texture. I was able to find a fairly easy recipe online that got the nod from sis.

They were surprisingly easy to make. They used active yeast which isn’t a yeast I’ve used before. As the name suggests, it needs to be activated in water before use. I’m used to fast action yeast. Unsurprisingly, the hardest part was shaping the pretzels put for a first attempt, they weren’t too bad. Ideally, they need to be eaten straight away as after two days, they’d past their best (but sis still ate them). Although not as good as shop bought, they were a decent attempt. The texture was softer but it had the flavour. They did seem a little greasy which is down to the lashings of melted butter that was used to coat them. I followed the recipe from this blog. If you want to try making them, head over. Do follow the recipe exactly. Although I thought there was too much melted butter it’s better to use your own judgement. See if you can master the classic pretzel shape. You think you’ve managed it but by the time it comes out of the soda bath, its a soggy mess lol.

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Spiral Bread

A few months ago I was lucky enough to be invited on two masterclass sessions ran by Luis Troyano (finalist in last years GBBO) at work. In one session I joined a number of food bloggers in a watch and follow for a chocolate hazelnut and orange tart. The other session was a cookery demonstration with fellow colleagues on bread making where Luis showed us how to make some flavoured spiral muffins. It was this session that I enjoyed the most and was the recipe that I wanted to try and make at home. Well, this weekend was the chance I got to do exactly that.

Last month, I suggested that me and the girls should have a girls night in where we each brought a cocktail to make and some food to go with it. Straight away, the flavoured spiral muffins mentioned above came to mind. But instead of putting them in muffin tins, I wanted to make as a share and tear style loaf. The cocktail choice was easy. Mai tai.

Here’s the recipe that I used Spiral Bread Muffins – Luis Troyano

You might think it a bit strange to put bread in the fridge overnight for its first proving but it works. I normally find that my bread never doubles in size when I follow the traditional method of leaving it out for a couple of hours. It just isn’t warm enough. But following the method for this recipe worked a treat. Being able to start it the night before was also a bonus. When preparing the olives and peppers for the filling, dry them out on some kitchen roll as you want the filling to be as dry as possible or it will hinder the second proving. It does take a bit of time to prepare the filling (chopping up the olives, peppers and cheese) but let me tell you, it’s worth it. The saltiness from the serrano ham, manchego cheese and olives is complimented by the sweetness of the peppers. The melted manchego cheese adds a gooey texture and seems so naughty. The filling could easily be changed for something else. I’m considering using pesto or sun-dried tomatoes next time so that Mr W will try some (he’s not a big cheese fan). It was a big hit with the girls and I was able to give some to my parents for them to try (they shared with friends before a Chinese takeaway. Weird combination but it still went down well).

Spiral BreadCocktails and Tapas

I just wanted to include some pictures from the girls night. Of the food and cocktail combinations. The first drink of the night¬† was sangria. This tasted like the sangrias I remember from my holidays to Spain. Imagine my surprise when I was told that they had added Pimms to this batch!! This was paired with some crispy chicken kebabs. By the way, that’s the serving bowl, not my glass!!

Sangria with chicken kebabsUp next was my serrano ham and manchego cheese with olives and peppers spiral share and tear bread (bit of a mouthful). As mentioned above, my cocktail of choice was a mai tai. Boy, was this lethal. The recipe I was using didn’t included any fruit juice to dilute it down. Although, the more you drank the more it grew on you.

Spiral tear and share

Round three involved two dishes and two cocktails. The first pairing was a paella with a rum punch. The rum punch was my favourite cocktail of the night. It was a mixture of pineapple juice, orange juice, white rum, dark rum and coconut rum…holiday. The second pairing was patatas bravas with a bramble. A tapas dish that always goes down well. The cocktail, for me, was a bit too heavy on the gin but still managed to finish it.

Paella Patatas Bravas

And the grand finale, chocolate fondue with a raspberry Bellini. Can’t go wrong with chocolate and cava. Only thing missing was marshmallows but I don’t think we would have had enough room for them.

Chocolate Fondue