It seems like forever since I last posted my bread report. I confess, I missed last week’s class. The making of tortillas will remain a mystery to me.
This week, however, we went to different climes to produce pretzels and bagels. The pictures show the fruits or doughs of my labour.
The art of bagel forming and pretzel twisting requires much practice to get uniform shapes every time. I could use a little work – about 1000 more tries and I think I could get the hang of it.
Bread figures heavily in religious lore. Bagels are often associated with Jewish food and pretzels were said to have been formed by a monk in the shape of praying hands.
Both these breads are boiled then baked. Bagels are boiled in honey water while pretzels are boiled in water mixed with an alkali component*. In commercial operations lye is often used along with goggles and rubber gloves for protection. We used baking soda and our bare hands in class.
*Note: Popular chemical compounds containing sodium:
baking soda = sodium bicarbonate & lye = sodium hydroxide
The use of lye contributes to the distinctive taste, texture and flavour of the pretzel. To mimic this effect, baking soda and egg whites do just as nicely. And look ma! no goggles or gloves needed.
Article from the Los Angeles Times: Making a pretzel is a knotty challenge