Life was a little knotty and convoluted at one stage in my life just a handful of years ago. Before I met James, a little ways before even that, I was a very different person. Drinking was a very common pastime, smoking made for a wanton distraction, and the so-called friends I hung out with weren’t always the most decent nor trustworthy of people. At one stage, my grades started to fall sharply at university and I was very much living ‘in the moment’ more than ‘living for the future’.
I wouldn’t say I didn’t enjoy myself – there were plenty of delightful, amusing, once-in-a-lifetime memories made in those few years. But I am glad to say that I’ve put all of that behind me. I met James towards the end of finishing my degree and he reintroduced some structure and meaning to my life. I would say James’ abstinent behaviour towards alcohol and cigarettes aided me in abating my desire for them once and for all. I am now a fairly health-conscious individual. I haven’t smoked in years and I only ever touch alcohol for the sole purpose of enjoyment, never to get ridiculously drunk.
Nowadays, I only ever indulge in baking. Or photography. Or writing a good piece. Or, if you’ve read my previous post, some good ol’ retail therapy. I also enjoy savouring good food, combing the internet for healthy recipes, listening to feel-good music, sipping on exotic teas, going on scenic drives to inspiring locations, and being on the receiving end of relaxing body massages.
James and I made some pretty amazing pretzels a couple of weekends ago. Big, thick and fluffy-soft pretzels, studded with emerald specks of spring onion and lightly dusted with aromatic black truffle salt. It was a long and arduous process, and we probably could have done better with rolling out the dough and shaping them, but hey, what mattered more to us was that they tasted mega yum! Slightly crisp and chewy on the outside, soft and warm on the inside, these pretzels were absolutely gorgeous. And they were especially good when paired with some honey + dijon mustard. The hints of spring onion, salt and black truffle made the experience all the more memorable.
Soft & Fluffy Spring Onion Pretzels with Black Truffle Salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
6 teaspoons granulated sugar
4 teaspoons instant dried yeast
1 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup full cream milk, warm
3/4 cup filtered water, warm
1 stalk spring onion, finely chopped
Black truffle salt*, for sprinkling
* We used Tetsuya’s Truffle Salt here, which is a blend of soft salt from the seas of Sicily and Italian black truffle. You may use regular sea salt or your favourite flavour-infused salt instead.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, yeast and salt together. Mix well.
- Stir the warm water and milk into the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon until everything comes together.
- Knead the dough until smooth and no longer sticky (about 15-25 minutes). We used a dough hook on low speed for this step, but you can knead the dough on a lightly floured surface with your hands. If the dough is too wet, add a little more flour, but don’t overdo it!
- In the last few minutes of kneading, add the chopped spring onion and knead through.
Gather the dough into a ball and place it in a large bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it doubles in size (about 1 hour).
Punch down the risen dough and divide into 10 equal pieces.
Roll each piece out into long, thin strands, approximately 18″ long by 1/2″ wide (~45cm x 1.5cm). Twist each strand into pretzel shapes.
- Preheat oven to 220°C and line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
- To make the soda bath, fill a large pot with water. For each cup of water, add roughly 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Mix, and bring to a low boil.
Using a slotted spoon, gently lower a pretzel into the boiling water and let simmer for 30 seconds. Flip and let simmer for an additional 30 seconds, then scoop it out of the water and place on the prepared baking tray. Repeat this step with the rest of the pretzels.
Optional: Brush the boiled pretzels with some egg wash (for a glossy finish) or some milk wash (for a deeper brown finish).
Generously sprinkle the tops of the pretzels with some black truffle salt and bake them for about 15 minutes, turning the tray around about halfway through for even browning.
- Best served warm and eaten the day they are made.