Introduction: Pretzel Dough - Bread Machine Vs Hand Kneaded

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Every year, my husband and I have a “script” discussion (you know what that is if you are married or have been with your significant other long enough) about an appliance that is stored in our pantry.

That appliance is the bread maker.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s a very nice bread maker and I want to keep it.  The conversation usually goes something like this:
Me: “That bread maker is taking up space in the pantry.  When was the last time we used it?  Let’s put it in the garage.”
My husband: “But if we put it in the garage, then we won’t make bread with it.”
Me, closing my eyes and asking again: “When was the last time we used it?
Husband: “Oh – A few months ago….”

So –
The last time we used the bread maker, I put a sticky note on it with the date. 
That is when the menacing- sounding voice in my head said “Hah!”
The date on the note said May 21, 2011.  I really thought it had been much longer than that.  I remember telling myself back then that the bread maker had a one-year chance of living in that pantry.  If we didn’t use it in one year, it was going in the garage.

I mentioned the scoochmaroo Challenge to my husband about fermenting, and the first thing he thought of was making something with the bread maker.
(Argh I thought; there goes another year of that thing in the pantry.)

Thus I give credit to my husband for helping me come up with a Challenge entry and subsequently, a Contest entry.

For those wives and loved ones who have that “I-want-to-use-it-more-than-once-a-year” bread maker, perhaps this instructable can help you.

I also really wanted to know if the same recipe that was in the bread maker’s book could be used without getting out the bulky bread maker.
The question I asked myself to answer at the end of this challenge: Will the end product be the same if the pretzel dough recipe for the bread machine is used and the dough is hand-kneaded?

I was pleasantly surprised at the answer.  Read on for tips and notes I discovered about fermenting, yeast and making pretzels.

The time to make eight to sixteen pretzels is about 3-1/2 hours total.  One of those hours is so that the egg yolk comes to room temperature.

Step 1: Ingredients and Tools

Ingredients for a 1.5 LB loaf size:
• 1-1/4 cups Water, 80-degrees F/27-degrees C
• 1 room temperature Egg Yolk
• 1 TBL Vegetable Oil
• 2 TBL Sugar
• 1-1/2 tsp Salt
• 1/8 tsp White Pepper
• 3-1/2 cups Bread Flour, plus extra for flouring a surface during rolling phase
• 2-1/4 tsp Active Dry Yeast

Glaze Ingredients:
• 1 Egg White
• 1 TBL Water

Coarse Kosher Salt
• Variations for Toppings are described in Step 5 and can include
o Cinnamon and Sugar
o Parmesan Cheese and/or Garlic Powder
o Parmesan Cheese and Pepperoni
o Sesame Seeds (not pictured)

Select “DOUGH” Cycle on Bread Machine

Tools for recipe:
• Kitchen thermometer
• Measuring cup(s)
• Measuring spoons
• Cookie sheets – Will have to grease them
• Area to place flour and roll dough to make pretzels (I use waxed paper or parchment paper on my counter top for easy cleanup)
• Optional: Egg Separator (Not shown because I don’t have one)
• Optional: Pastry brush for glaze (Again, not shown because I don’t have one.  After this experiment though, I might get one.)

Bread maker Tools:
• Bread Machine – Ours is an older model Breadman Ultimate -Here is a Link to the Newer Model

Hand-Kneading Tools:
• Bowl to mix and rise dough in
• Towel to cover dough while it rises

Step 2: Prepare the Egg Yolk

One of the first recipe notes for this is that the recipe states that the egg yolk must be room temperature.

As I don’t have an egg separator, I have photos showing the way my mom showed me how to separate eggs.

First, break the egg shell as close as you can to the middle of the shell, over a bowl.

Next, trying really hard not to break the membrane around the yolk, alternate the yolk from one empty egg shell to the other over the bowl.

The egg yolk will separate from the egg white and the white falls into the bowl as you alternate the yolk from one shell to the next in your hands.

Once I separated the yolk from the white, I let the egg yolk sit on our counter for an hour and checked the temperature.  The room temperature was equal to the egg yolk temperature, so I knew it was time to go onto the next step.  I also saved the egg white (in the fridge) for the glaze.

Step 3: Making Pretzel Dough Using the Bread Machine

Some of the first pictures are of the recipe book that came with the bread maker.  Here are the notes that are important –
(1) Recipe calls for 1.5 LB size dough, total time of 1-hour, 27 minutes.
(2) Place the liquid ingredients first in the clean container provided with the bread maker.  That’s the water, egg yolk and oil.
(3) Place the dry ingredients, EXCLUDING THE YEAST, on top of the liquid ingredients.
(4) Place the yeast on top of all the other ingredients.

Set the proper time on the bread maker, push start and wait.  The total time for my machine stated 1-hour, 27-minutes.

Step 4: Making Pretzel Dough Using Hand Kneading

As I was experimenting by using the same bread machine recipe to hand knead the dough, I used all the same ingredients, the same temperature of water, and even placed the ingredients into my bowl in the same order as in Step 3.

I mixed the dough using a spoon for 3-minutes, and hand-kneaded it for 24-minutes (total of 27-minutes.)

I covered the kneaded dough with a towel in the bowl I was working with and set it next to the bread maker to rise.  I set a timer for one-hour (again, per the bread maker book), and waited.

As I have made dough (specifically for pizza) before, I have learned a thing or two about making dough.  Many of the tips that I list below are based off of that previous knowledge.

Some TIPS that I will use the next time I hand knead my pretzel dough –
(1) Use 120-degree warm water.  (See Step 6 for more clarification on this.)
(2) Mix the dry ingredients, including the yeast.
(3) Mix liquid ingredients separately in a large bowl.
(4) Add the dry ingredients to the liquid ingredients, mix, and knead to form the dough.
(5) According to the recipe for the bread maker dough, the dough was going to be kneaded by the bread machine for 24-minutes (after mixing).  I hand kneaded the dough for 24-minutes for the purpose of this experiment.  Perhaps in the future only 10-15 minutes would probably work just as well, but that will be a future experiment.
(6) Add a ½-tablespoon of oil to the pan or bowl the dough will rise in and turn the dough around in the oil to coat, before covering it to rise.
(7) Choose a warm location for the dough to rise.  In my case, our home was already around 80-degrees and that is what I consider ‘warm’.  I have also placed dough to rise in my oven, NOT ON of course, but it’s occasionally warmer in it than just on the counter top of my kitchen.

Step 5: Shaping and Baking

I prepared and baked the bread machine and hand-kneaded pretzel dough batches the same way for the experiment, as described below.

Pre-heat the oven to 375-degrees F.

Grease a couple cookie sheets.  (I used cooking spray.)

On a lightly floured surface, cut the dough into a couple pieces to start off with.

Roll each piece into a 16-inch rope.

I stuck the end pieces together to make a loop. (I know NOW that I should have crossed them, not stuck them together, to hang over the end to make it look more like a bakery pretzel).

Take one side of the loop and twist the dough to make it into the shape of an eight (8).

Fold one end across the loop and make the heart shaped top we are all familiar with to make it look like a pretzel.

Place the shaped pretzels onto a greased cookie sheet, about 1-1/2 inches apart

Add 1-TBL of water to the reserved egg white.  Using a pastry brush (which I don’t have so I used a spoon) spread or brush the glaze on top of each pretzel.

For the initial batch, and this experiment, I used the glaze on each pretzel, and then sprinkled a small amount of coarse kosher salt before baking it.

Bake at 375-degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.

You can also use Cinnamon Sugar, sesame seeds, or parmesan cheese and garlic powder sprinkled on as toppings on individual pretzels.  All would be placed after the glaze and before baking.

For pepperoni and parmesan cheese pretzels, the recipe book states to knead in 1-cup of pepperoni for an entire batch and 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese after the rising stage.  I tried doing this with half of the batch, of course using half a cup of pepperoni and an unmeasured amount of parmesan cheese. 
I could not get past the rolling phase because the pepperoni wouldn’t stay mixed into the dough before baking.  I ended up with unglazed twisted pepperoni pretzel sticks, still very delicious. (Not pictured, just eaten.)

Future Baking Notes:
(1) I think I will use a fork  or even brush the glaze with my fingers next time.  The egg white did not separate as well as it could have for spreading it over the pretzel dough using a spoon.  Or, I will just buy a pastry brush.
(2) Cut the batch into the number of pretzels you want to make as soon as you get the dough onto the floured surface, up to 16.  We made eight (8) pretzels with each batch of dough, all of them looking like very different sizes but they all seemed to have the same cooking time.
(3) Don’t be afraid to roll a small amount of dough thin enough to make it 16-inches long.  We made the observation that the dough was not falling apart as we rolled it AND that it puffed up bigger than we thought after it was baked.
(4) Use the glaze.
(5) Don’t overcook unless you want a crunchier result.  One pan of pretzels was crunchier than the others, and I deduce that one pan was cooked an extra 3-minutes or so.  A light brown color on top was all that was needed to make a soft, cooked pretzel after about 16 minutes in my oven.
(6) If I do another batch of pepperoni and Parmesan cheese pretzels, I will cut the pepperoni into smaller bits to be able to roll it into smaller rolls (16” long of course) to get the pretzel look.
(7) Don’t be afraid of toppings.  The Parmesan cheese melted around the pretzel and I was careful not to put too much sprinkled garlic powder.  The pepperoni sticks did not look pretty but were delicious.  I thought I might have sprinkled too much cinnamon and sugar but I didn’t.  Conclusion – don’t be afraid of topping the pretzels.

Every pretzel was edible and delicious.  My family was very pleased with each batch and all the topping variations!

Step 6: Conclusion and the Facts About Yeast

My family and I have concluded that following the bread machine’s recipe for making hand kneaded pretzel dough yields the same results.

The texture appeared the same, the baked product tasted, smelled and looked the same, and the end result was a very happy family of full bellies.

I sprinkled in my “next-time I-try-this” notes throughout the instructions, so I won’t reiterate them here.

I learned a lot about yeast from the Red Star Website.

The most mentionable facts are as follows:
• Red Star® Active Dry Yeast is cake yeast in a semi-dormant state.
• For traditional baking, Red Star® Active Dry Yeast may be hydrated in 110°-115°F liquids or mixed with other dry ingredients if liquids are warmed to 120° to 130°F.
• To use Red Star® Active Dry Yeast in a bread machine, use 3/4 teaspoon of yeast for each cup of flour and have liquids at 80°F liquids. Active dry yeast is not recommended for one-hour or less bread machine cycles.
• Yeast are single-celled fungi.  Yeast cells digest food to obtain energy for growth.  Their favorite food is sugar in its various forms: For this recipe it is the maltose, derived from starch in flour.
• The process, alcoholic fermentation, produces useful end products, carbon dioxide (gas) and ethyl alcohol. These end products are released by the yeast cells into the surrounding liquid in the dough. In bread baking, when yeast ferments the sugars available from the flour and/or from added sugar, the carbon dioxide gas cannot escape because the dough is elastic and stretchable. As a result of this expanding gas, the dough inflates, or rises. Thus, the term "yeast-leavened breads" was added to the vocabulary of the world of baking.
• The ethyl alcohol (and other compounds) produced during fermentation produce the typical flavor and aroma of yeast-leavened breads.

My son’s expression was priceless when I told him that the yeast came ALIVE after being activated by the warm water.  At the time of this instructable, he was six years old.  While the process of making this pretzel was an experiment for me, it was a teachable moment (or several really) for him in many ways.

I hope this helps you use that bread machine more.  It currently has a semi-permanent spot on our counter now as we plan on making more pretzels this week.

You can be guaranteed that I will put another sticky note on my bread machine with the date it was last used before it goes back into the pantry.   And maybe this time, I’ll give it a mental-note of a six month waiting period before it gets put in the garage….
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