Sunday, April 13, 2008

Soft Pretzel

I wish Kim&Scott is here, in Shanghai. I miss them so much. No, they are neither my relatives nor my friends. They are co-owners of famous Kim & Scott’s® pretzel based in Chicago. Their stuffed soft pretzels are so amazingly delicious that I was addicted to when I was in a small town in Oklahoma (where finest food in town was Subway sandwich and Sonic drive-in). My favorites are apple cinnamon and ham cheese pretzel. They are huge in size and can be filling.

Recently, I’m so into bread making. This is one of my favorite recipe from I adapt it to my own version with less flour and more sugar. The dough can be made as dinner roll or garlic stick as it tastes great itself. For garlic stick, you can just brush with butter and sprinkle with garlic powder before put them in the oven. The recipe can make up to 12-14 normal-sized pretzels. You can half the recipe, but believe me, you’ll regret that you should have made the full batch once you taste them.

Last time I made stuffed pretzel with apple and raisin. Just like what usually stuffed in apple pie. OMG, It was so good. I love this recipe so much. The bread is good even though you keep them in the fridge for 2 days. It’s best when heated in oven or in medium heat in microwave.

In the make of pretzel, I took some photos. Unbaked mini pretzels are cute. They are like babies lining up for (baking soda) bath. They look naked this way. Don’t you think? Don't worry, we'll dress them up with sugar and nuts. Yumm.


4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Baking soda Bath – mix these together
1/2 cup baking soda

4 cups hot water
Topping Adhesive
1 eggwhite + 1 tablespoon of water

Cinnamon Sugar topping – mix all of these together. Squeeze big chuck of butter and mix well with all other ingredients. Final product will be coarse crumb with some peanut-sized bits.

½ cup of finely chopped walnuts (or other nuts of your choice)
½ cup of all purposed flour
½ cup of sugar
4 table spoon of cold butter – cut into small cubes
1 table spoon of cinnamon
A pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 425-450 F.

For the dough - Mix everything together. Make sure you don't put yin-and-yang next to each other, which is salt and yeast. Knead to form dough. If the mixture is dry, add one or two tablespoons of water. Knead the dough until smooth, about 15 minutes. I used electric hand mixer. Those who have a professional kneading machine like Kitchen Aid stand mixer may turn on medium speed for 10 min and check if the dough passes window pane test. That is you can stretch out the dough into paper-thin without tearing it off.

Place the dough in a grased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm place for 1 hr.
After the dough doubles in volume, punch it down. On working space cut out a piece, a tennis ball-sized. Squeeze into stick, and then start to roll to make a rope on table. The texture of the dough should be now like clay. I was tempted to sculp it to a small buffalo...oh no, I was shaping pretzel here.

Well, you can shape it differently, big or small ones. I opt to do mini pretzels as it easy to dip-and-dress in further steps.

for mini pretzels --> 0.5 cm. diameter, 1.5 feet in length .
for normal size, sold-in-mall pretzels--> 1 cm diameter, 3 feet in length.

Twist into a pretzel shape, put ugly side down. Rest the dough for 20 minutes. If you like dense pretzel, skip resting process.
Here is how to twist pretzel.
Now, prepare assemble line. You‘ll need large-enough containers that allows you to dip pretzels and make coatings. So it depends on how big you pretzels are. Line one plate/tray next to one another so that you don’t dirty kitchen space.

Baking soda bath
Eggwhites bath
Strusel topping

Dip each pretzel into the baking soda solution. Make sure they are well coated. Note that unbathed parts will not be browned and you don’t want that, do you?

Dip into egg white bath. This will act as adhesive and make streusel stick on pretzel skin.
Place in streusel tray; coat pretzel on both sides and press gently.

Place on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle more with strusel or other nuts of your choice.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, until browned. You are allowed to take a bite just for tasting.
My tasting costed me 2 pretzel, before I was aware....opps.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Coconut flakes buns

As far as I recall, I never ever ever liked dried coconut flakes on any of my desserts (not to be confused with coconut creme and coconut meat frequently used in Thai savory and desserts that I love so much). To me, I felt its texture is like chopped cardboard (apologies for my extreme words here).

Not until last year, I realized my favorite piece of cake is the Australian's national signature, The Lamington. Of course, with coconut flakes coating. And last month, coconut bun I bought from next door bakery shop was soul-fulfilling that inspired me to make one of my own. What an overly #$%&* I'm putting here. Let's look at what I made (or baked).

While baking the last batch, I was trying not to grab one into my mouth. I believe it's very tempting to bakers when they smell freshly baked buns from the oven. Crispy crust and warm/soft bread, who would not love to have a bite.

And oh, I made red bean bun out of the same batch. So I would call the day of asian bread.

Okay, it was a raining day and I got stuck in my apartment, of course, smell so good with buttery buns all around. I finally finished one of them and managed to spared the rest for my freinds whom I would hornor them as my taster (or 'tester' as anyone would presume). While wraping up with tears, I really really wanted to have some more but I heard a voice shouting in my ears "aren't you trying to lose a pound?". And I called it an evil voice.