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Pretzel Bread Recipe


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     Pretzel Bread

Category   Desserts - Breads
Sub Category   None
Servings   2 small loaves
Preptime   3 to 4 Hours

1 packet dry active yeast, or 2 tsp
2 cups warm water
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp half and half
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1.5 tsp salt
3 to 3.5 cups bread flour
3 tbsp baking soda

Combine the warm water, dark brown sugar and honey in a mixing bowl and stir. Add the yeast carefully to avoid clumps. Stir again and let the mixture stand until the surface of the water starts to turn a light brown as the yeast begins to foam. If your water is too hot, too cold it will not foam. While the yeast is started to get going, melt the 3 tbsp of unsalted butter, then add the half and half. Add the tsp of salt to the yeast mixture with the butter and half and half then stir well. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a large bowl at set it aside. Be sure the bowl is beg enough for the dough to fit in after doubling in size. Measure out two cups of flour and add the to the mixing bowl. Use a rubber spatula or flour your hands and start mixing the dough. Rather than using a mixing motion like when working with a cake mix, fold the flour into the water. scrape along the sides and bottom of the bowl and fold it into the flour.
Once the dough forms a wet mess, add a little of the third cup at a time and fold the new flour into the dough. Do not add the entire cup at one, as it may not be needed. Add a little at a time and knead. After a few minutes the dough should stop sticking so the sides of the bowl as much and start to form a ball. Add flour and knead until the dough ball is just slightly sticky. At that point, turn it out of the bowl onto a clean, lightly floured surface or just flour your hands and pick it up. Knead the dough by fold it over and over in different directions until it gets sticky again, then sprinkle just a little more flour on it. Knead until the dough is smooth and just slightly sticky. It should form a fairly solid ball. After the dough is in the buttered bowl, flip it over once so that all sides are coated and cover the dough with either plastic wrap or a moist cloth and set it somewhere it will stay warm, but not too warm or it will begin to bake.
After an hour, check on the dough. Because there is not much yeast in this particular bread it will probably take longer than an hour to get nearly doubled. Once the yeast has nearly doubled, get a wide pot of water on the stove and add baking soda. Additionally, a little honey can be added to sweeten the crust a bit. While waiting for the water to boil, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Then, uncover the dough, punch it down, and shape the loaves and set them on a lightly floured surface then cover lightly to rise while the water comes to a boil. Once the water has come to a rolling boil, drop the loaves into the pot and let them float around for 30 seconds on each side. Then take them out and quickly drain them, placed on a lightly floured of greased baking sheet, sprinkle salt over the top of the wet loaves and cut an X on the top of each loaf with a sharp knife.
After the oven is up to temperature, set the loaves in the top 1/2 or top 1/3 of the oven. Let them bake for ten minutes, turn them, and drop the temperature to 400 degrees. Bake for another 10 or so minutes. The loaves should sound hollow when tapped on the top. During the last few minutes of baking, the loaves should hit their maximum size and turn a dark brown. Once the loaves are out of the oven, brush them lightly with melted butter for a softer, chewer crust. If they are not buttered the loaves will keep a crunchy crust. When storing them, keep them at room temperature in a bag. The loaves will keep several days.
Serving Suggestions
Serve the loaves warm with butter or a dip. A cheddar and sour cream dip is particularly good.

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