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Sourdough Cider Pretzel Twists

Cider-boiled sourdough pretzels all tied up in their Sunday best.
Cider-boiled sourdough pretzels all tied up in their Sunday best.

Recipe

Adapted from the soft pretzel recipe in Pretzel Making at Home by Andrea Slonecker 1 package (2-1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast 1/2 cup warm water (between 100 and 115 degrees) 1 tablespoon barley malt syrup or 1 tablespoon firmly packed dark brown sugar 3 to 3-1/4 cups (420 g) unbleached bread flour (can substitute up to 1 c dark rye flour for a deeper flavor and color) 1 can cold Brickworks cider, divided 1/4 cup pumpkin puree 1 tablespoon olive oil or softened butter, plus more for greasing the bowl 2 teaspoons fine sea salt (see directions, step 1) 1/4 cup baked baking soda 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water Coarse salt and/or pumpkin seeds for topping DIRECTIONS 1. Preheat the oven to 250°F. Spread the baking soda out on an aluminum-lined pie pan or a small rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour. Let cool completely. If not using right away, store it in an airtight container at room temperature. 2. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl. Add the brown sugar, stirring until dissolved. Allow the yeast to bloom until foamy, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the flour, 1/2 cup Brickworks cider, oil or butter and salt and continue stirring to form a shaggy mass. Using the mixer's dough hook, knead on medium-low speed for about 1 minute, until a smooth ball forms. The dough should be quite firm and may be slightly tacky, but not sticky. (If sticky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, and knead until the dough is smooth. If the dough is too dry to come together, add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time.) Continue kneading the dough on medium-low speed until it is elastic, 5 to 7 minutes. You can also knead it by hand on an unfloured work surface. 3. Choose a bowl that will be large enough to contain the dough after it has doubled in size, and grease it lightly with butter. Transfer the dough to the greased bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, and up to 24 hours, for optimal flavor. (For quick pretzels, allow the dough to rise at room temperature, in a warm spot, until it has doubled in size, about 3½ hours.) 4. Line two 12-by-17-in rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Turn the dough out onto an unfloured work surface and firmly press it down to deflate. Cut the dough into 12 equal portions. Work with one piece of dough at a time, keeping the rest covered with a damp, clean kitchen towel. Form into traditional pretzel shape (see http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-soft-pretzels-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-195974). 5. Allow the covered pretzels to rise at warm room temperature until they have increased in size by about half, 20 to 30 minutes. (The pretzels can be refrigerated at this point, covered tightly with plastic wrap, for up to 8 hours before dipping and baking them.) 6. At least 20 minutes before baking, position one rack in the upper third and another rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 500°F. 7. Fill a large (at least a finger’s width wider than the pretzels) tall, non-reactive pot with the rest of your Brickworks cider and enough water to equal 8 cups or liquid. Stir the baking soda into the water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Once the baking soda dissolves, reduce the heat to medium to hold a gentle simmer. 8. Use a large skimmer or spider to gently dip the pretzels in the baked baking soda solution, one or two at a time. Leave them in the solution for about 30 seconds, carefully turning once after 15 seconds. Remove the pretzels from the liquid, drain, and return them to the baking sheets, spacing them at least 1 inch apart. Repeat with the remaining pretzels. Use a serrated knife to cut a slit about ¼ inch deep in the thickest part of each pretzel (the bottom of the U). Brush them with the egg wash. Sprinkle them with the toppings of your choosing. 9. Bake the pretzels until they are deep mahogany in color, 8 to 12 minutes, rotating the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through. Cool the preztels on a rack for 10 minutes before serving. The pretzels are best enjoyed the day they are made, warm from the oven or within an hour of baking. 10. Either eat immediately or let them cool completely and then wrap each one individually in plastic wrap. Store at room temperature for up to 2 days, or put the plastic-wrapped pretzels in a resealable plastic freezer bag to freeze up to 1 month. Reheat the pretzels in a 350°F oven for about 5 minutes, or for 10 to 12 minutes if frozen. ENJOY WITH: Maple Mustard Mix equal parts mayo and dijon mustard and a glug of maple syrup.

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