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pretzels.

Guess what, guess what! I’m super happy to report that I know how to make pretzels now (at least under professional supervision!). They are a lot of work, but so worth the effort.

I took a pretzel class at Firebrand Artisan Breads in Oakland. Our instructor Colleen shared pretzel making secrets and tips, including preferred equipment and ingredients. We learned the science behind the ingredients, and how to appropriately use and efficiently throw flour to prep the work surface.

We learned how to make, weigh out / portion, roll, and shape the dough. We made three basic shapes: knots, the Firebrand signature twists, and balls (stuffed with cheese!).

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A lye bath gives the pretzel a shine and some added orangey-brown color. This was my first time using lye, and I got some extra practice time because a few classmates didn’t want to try it. After the lye bath we added the toppings – sea salt, everything bagel spice, cheese, more cheese, paprika…. Then into the oven, a little cooling on the table, and taste test!

We made six kinds of pretzels all with the same dough:

  1. Knot with salt
  2. Knot with herb-infused goat cheese
  3. Firebrand twist with salt
  4. Firebrand twist with everything bagel spice
  5. Ball with gruyere (inside), salt and paprika
  6. Ball with gruyere (inside), salt, paprika, and a four-cheese blend

My most favorite Firebrand baked good is the goat cheese pretzel, and oh my gosh, it is so amazing fresh from the oven!

We each went home with about a dozen pretzels each. Fresh is best, but I totally put them in the refrigerator (a big no no / shh, don’t tell) and consumed them all week. I ate them plain and I also made sandwiches with soppressata, greens, and spicy brown mustard. Pretzels as sandwich bread = Amaze.

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I’m not sure when I’ll make pretzels again (so. much. work.), but this is a definite must-do-again type of recipe. Thank you to Colleen of Firebrand for imparting all your pretzel wisdom on us!

Dabble in pretzel making? Share your favorite toppings, tips, and ways to eat pretzels below!

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