Everyone in the world can agree on pretzels. No one in the history of time has ever said “no pretzels for me, thanks”. They have the power to bring buddies together, reignite romances and perhaps even end wars.
Fancy trying to make your own? Great British Bake Off's Richard Burr offers his pro tips on how to make the perfect pretzel...
“The first tip is getting loads of brown sugar in your mix to balance out the salt, which you’ll use both in the dough and to pour on in the form of lovely rock salt at the end."
“The second tip is, once you’ve made the pretzels and twisted them, which is pretty easy to figure out, you have to boil them quickly in an alkaline solution. You need to put maybe three or four tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda in a pot and quickly flash-boil your pretzels before you cook them. That’s what’s going to give them the brilliant shiny outer edge that everyone loves.”
“Always tidy up as you go. It takes moments to cover every single inch of your counter top and there’s nothing worse than taking something hot out of the kitchen and having to do a dance around the hob, balancing crap on top of each other, trying to find a place to put it.”
For the pretzels:
17g packet fast-action dried yeast
45g light brown soft sugar
300g plain flour
150g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp coarse sea salt
For the sauce:
60ml Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp cider vinegar
Heat the milk in a saucepan until bubbles begin to appear at the edges of the pan. Remove from the heat and leave to cool until lukewarm. Pour the milk into a medium-sized bowl and sprinkle in the yeast, leave for about 2 minutes. Stir in the brown sugar and 150g flour with a wooden spoon. Cut 30g of butter into small pieces and soften, stir into the mix. Add the remaining flour and the salt to make a sticky dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour if needed, until smooth but still slightly sticky, about 5 minutes. Shape into a ball, place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with clingfilm. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, for about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 220C/Gas mark 8, and grease a large baking sheet. Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface, punch to deflate and knead lightly for 1 minute. Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Roll and stretch each piece with the palms of your hands into a 75cm "rope", holding the ends and slapping the middle of the rope on the counter as you stretch. Form each rope into a pretzel shape.
Dissolve the baking soda into 750ml of warm water in a shallow baking dish. Dip each pretzel into the water, then carefully remove and arrange on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with the salt and bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until golden.
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Combine the mayonnaise, mustard, brown sugar and vinegar in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate.
Melt the remaining butter in a shallow dish. Once cooked, dip the hot pretzels in the butter, turning to coat, then remove and place on a wire rack to allow excess butter to drip off. Serve the pretzels warm with the sweet mustard sauce.