First the ingredients are carefully measured
For our starting gift to the guests at Palo Alto Grill, our Pastry Chef, Yoomi, wanted to do something unique and interesting, yet at the same time very familiar and satisfying. Trying to think of bread products that were typically seen as part of Americana, we stumbled across the combination of soft pretzels and mustard. We decided to refine the appearance by borrowing from the French Epi-Baguette, a baguette which has been cut into shapes resembling a stalk of wheat. We further upped the ante by making zesty mustard into a rich moreish spread.
Next, Chef Yoomi carefully combines the ingredients,
dry ingredients first, then wet, in a stand mixer.
Pretzels are unique in the bread world in many ways:
- They are topped with salt
- They are brushed with baking soda to give them their unique brown/white look
- They are brushed with butter to shine them
1500 grams Bread Flour
500 grams Cake Flour
1300 grams Water
16 grams Yeast
12 grams Salt
Butter, as needed
Pretzel Salt, as needed
After the ingredients have all been mixed on speed 2 for
6 minutes, the dough is divided and shaped.
The dough is divided into 95 gram portions before being carefully rolled out as pictured
Remember, bread dough has memory. If you grab a piece of dough by both ends and pull to achieve the length we're going for with this bread, when it bakes in the oven, it will spring back together. In order to get the dough to achieve the proper shape and hold it, the dough must be flattened out, then rolled up before being rolled out. The act of winding the dough tighter and tighter around itself allows the elastic proteins to loosen lengthwise, sort of like unwinding a spring.
Chef Yoomi paints the dough with a mixture of 250 grams water to 15 grams baking soda, to achieve greater browning.
This is done before and after proofing.
Bread this thin doesn't need long to proof at all. In a hot, muggy kitchen like ours, it proofs at room temperature in about 10 minutes.
Once the dough has puffed ever so slightly (like the first step of filling a balloon, when the air goes in, but the balloon has yet to stretch) paint the dough with the soda water once more and cut slashes at a 45 degree angle, leaving the dough connected at the bottom, but using the scissors to angle the points of the mini rolls.
Sprinkle with pretzel salt and bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes, turning once.
When the breads come out of the oven, they are well browned, but do not have pretzel's characteristic shine.
Note: you can see the areas where the baking soda did not get painted into, these parts of the pretzel stay bright white. This is the advantage of soda washing the bread: a beautiful two-tone surface.
To achieve shininess, the bread is brushed with melted butter right out of the oven.
These breads are super sick, and a great way to start a meal at Palo Alto Grill, especially with our house cheese mustard.
For our recipe for cheese mustard: