Sometimes in life there's nothing better than warm, bready things straight out of the oven. Cue the pretzel! Like a bagel with more panache. We've even themed them for those times when a rose shaped roll is an absolute necessity.
Here, they're combined with mature cheddar, plenty of freshly ground black pepper and sea salt into a chewy, moreish, satisfying bread hit. Perfect for weekends. Or weekdays. They're best when eaten fresh out of the oven (could you even contemplate leaving them to cool?), with a bit of butter.
Cheddar & Black Pepper Pretzels (Makes 8 large)
Preparation time: 1 hour 40 minutes (with rising time)
Cooking time: 12-14 minutes
You will need:
- 375ml warm water
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 heaped tsp active dry yeast
- 385g strong bread flour
- 4 tbsp melted butter
- 2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
- A lot of water (about 2.5 litres)
- 60g bicarbonate of soda
- 1 egg yolk and splash of water for egg wash
- Sea salt flakes
- 100g cheddar cheese, grated
- Mix together the water, sugar, salt and yeast in a bowl and leave for 5 minutes or so until foaming slightly.
- Add in the flour, butter and black pepper and knead well for 5-10 minutes until the dough is elastic and is no longer sticking to the edges of the bowl. Add in a little more flour if it's too sticky.
- Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and place somewhere warm to rise for about an hour, until doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 230 C / 450 F / Gas Mark 8. Line two baking sheets with lightly oiled baking parchment. (Try not to use greaseproof paper as a substitute, the pretzels will stick!)
- Bring the litres of water and bicarbonate of soda to the boil.
- Beat together the egg yolk and water in a separate bowl.
- Gently knead half of the cheddar into the dough, then separate the dough into 8 equal pieces.
- Roll each piece into a 2 foot rope and twist into a pretzel shape, pinching the edges together. (Check out the awesome Canadian musac in that video...)
- Use a slotted spoon to drop each pretzel into the water and boil for 30 seconds before placing on the baking sheets.
- Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt, the remaining cheddar and a grind of pepper.
- Bake for 12-14 minutes until deep brown.
- Try to leave them to cool for 5 minutes ... wait, who are we kidding? Eat them warm with butter and swoon in delight.