Food

Pretzel crackers

10:44 AM

homemade pretzel dough crackers, time consuming, but worth it.
One of the few things I really really really miss in India are those little salty pretzel sticks that are so commonly served as a party snack in Europe.
To the point I have desperately tried to make my own for YEARS. It involved a lot of trials, and as many errors. And all those years later, I am still not able to replicate them, I came close, but that is the highest commendation I can give : close.

Through all my trials and errors I found out that getting matchstick thin sticks is near impossible, but that making small crackers out of the same dough will give better results.
As I type this, I am still figuring out how to get them to be as crunchy as those store bought ones (which are ridiculously costly in India, import tax oblige).

Nonetheless, the taste of these crackers is right on the money, some are a bit more chewy than others, but they make a great alternatives to the overpriced pretzel sticks.

The dough used to make them is a standard yeast dough, and the salty brown coating is achieved the same way as in my "Pretzel bread" recipe : by coating them with soda bicarb diluted in water. The only difference with the pretzel bread is that you don't need to poach the crackers one by one.

If you are prepared for a slightly time consuming baking session, here is how to pull them off:

Ingredients:

350g plain white flour (Maida)
1 tsp of dry yeast
1tsp of sugar
2-3 tbsp of melted butter
2tsp of salt
Coarse salt to decorate (optional)

For the coating water: 

500ml of water
50g soda bicarb (baking soda)
1tbsp of salt

How to:

1) You need to start by making a yeast dough. Disolve the dry yeast and sugar in 1/3 glass of warm water. Put the flour in a mixing bowl and dig a well. Pour the yeasty water in the well and cover with a thin layer of flour.
Let it rest until the yeast oozes out of the well and through the flour cover, this is a sign your yeast is doing its yeasty thing.

2) Once the yeast is activated, add the melted butter and salt to the flour and gradually add water to form a smooth elastic dough. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let it rest until the dough has doubled in size (1.5 hours usually)
3) Once the dough has doubled in size, line baking sheets with baking parchment and knock back your dough. This is a fancy term that means you are deflating to bring it back to its original size.

4) Roll out your dough as thing as you can and start cutting shapes with a small cookie cutter (as pictured above). Place all your little dough cutouts on your baking sheets before proceeding to the next step.

5) In a sauce pan, pour 500ml of water and add the soda bicarb and salt and bring to a boil, this will help the soda dissolve better. Turn of the heat once it is all dissolved and set aside.
IF you bake pretzel bread often, you know this water can be reused and keeps in a bottle in the fridge for a month. In this case, I already had the water ready, and I didn't need to warm it for this recipe.
6) Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. With a wooden skewer, start poking tiny holes in your crackers. This is a step you do not want to skip, the holes prevent the crackers from bubbling and puffing unevenly while you bake them.

7) With a pastry brush, brush all your crackers with the soda bicarb water. If you are using the coarse salt, sprinkle your cracker with it.

8) Bake in the oven for about 12-15 minutes in the middle of the oven. The heat of the oven is what will activate the soda bicarb water to give a brown coating.

9) Transfer to a wire rack when you take them out of the oven and let them cool down completely before storing them in an air tight container.
I found out that the crackers I baked on the "crispy plate" my Samsung oven came with made them crunchier than those baked on my regular baking sheets. The next time I'll make them, I will try using a mesh rack to bake them. It could be that the way to get them to crisp is to allow the hot air to circulate above AND below.

6 comments

  1. Anonymous11:16 AM

    Is this bread or biscuit? it looks very similar to small tiny salty biscuits that you get in the market. Looks yummy.

    Many a times there are specialized shops which only sell Indian snacks which you don't often get at the ordinary grocery store though some have them. We have one in our market which sells everything from dry fruits to baked snacks for fasts.

    Apple

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These are salty biscuit, but like most crackers type of biscuits are made with a yeast dough, like bread.

      They are derived from the German pretzels, which you find under a bread roll avatar in Switzerland.
      The pretzel sticks I mentioned are tiny, matchstick thin and crunchy and are a typical cocktail hour, or beer time snack you find at parties (along with things like potato chips). They are also eaten as afternoon snacks with tea, if cakes and cookies aren't your thing.

      As I said, they can only be found in the imported goods section of gourmet stores in India, and have a ridiculous price tag to go with, we are talking in the neighbourhood of 300 rupees for a 100-150g packet, about the price we would pay for a 500g pack in Switzerland

      Delete
  2. Anonymous4:50 PM

    Omg! They're so expensive here and u went through all that trouble? The next time u might want to ask your family or friends to get u some swiss goodies. Thankfully our Indian diaspora has spread out almost every where and I'm glad we don't have to deal with this problem.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I usually ask my family and friends to bring me that type of things :-) But I usually run out of it fast LOL

      DH said he never had problems finding basic Indian spices and ingredients abroad, and acknowledged that expats in India have a much tougher time with that. When I first arrived to India in 2003, there was nothing. Or not much at any rate, at least now there are options. But there is still a lot that is imported and submitted to outrageous import taxes that make it nearly out of range for anybody not on an expat package (spouse of Indians fall in this category)

      I think there is hope though, especially in metros, I have seen many local brands starting to tap into the international flavours market, so you find basics to cook other cuisines much more easily these days.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous8:48 AM

      Well today there are a LOT of options compared to what was there 12 years ago. I'm seeing things like lavash, tacos, pasta sauce, mozarella cheese in the normal aisles at the mart. The imported section is another story.
      I just wish people would buy the local products more because our govt isn't doing anything to promote its products and contributing to the local economy will only improvise the standards and living of people involved in agriculture and industrialisation which is still very backward in India.

      Delete
    3. Exactly, last year I found out that raspberries are grown not far from Mumbai, yet every single stores in my area were selling the ridiculously overpriced imported variety. I don't mind import of products that genuinely can't be found in India, but not at the expense of local things.
      There is a huge potential in the dairy industry alone, still untapped and unpromoted, and that is only one sector, they all suffer from the same curse.

      I tend to buy local as much as possible, preferably organic if I can, which is another problem in India as far as promotion and even regulation is concerned.

      Delete

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