Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pretzel & Bagel, baking soda edition.

After my recent blog postings on bagels and pretzels, a Jewish buddy of mine and another fellow foodie made a suggestion of adding baking soda to the simmering water to dunk both in. The idea is that the shiny dark brown edge you get on classic pretzels and bagels really shines through with that kind of treatment.

Seemed like a good idea, so I did a big double batch of pretzels and bagels, using the dough setup for the bagel recipe rather than the pretzel one, so I got the same super stiff dough. I essentially treated them identically, and the only difference may be that I let the pretzels proof before parboiling about 20 to 25 minutes opposed to the bagels ten minutes. It's still a drastic cut from the 45 minutes I used last.

So the water goes on for a boil and back to a good simmer, and I add half a cup of baking soda. I'm not sure of the science behind it, but the heat activates the alkaline nature of the baking soda, so when you dunk your pretzel or bagel in, it gets all fizzy and kind of looks like soapy water with bubbles. Parboil only momentarily, then set aside for topping, then bake like normal.

See how dark? It's almost ridiculous. And no, not burnt at all. That's just the effect of the baking soda to get that wonderful color.

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