Fresh bread is one of my guiltiest pleasures ever. Luckily, there are quite a few bakeries in town that cater to my needs. An example of this is King’s Bakery (on No. 3 Rd in Richmond, in the heart of the RAV construction zone). It is not your run of the mill Chinese bakery, but instead there have many inventive buns with a twist to them. On this visit, I had their Sticky Taro bread.
It had a very soft and moist texture. The top was decorated with fine strings of crispy material, dotted with dough, and dusted in powdered sugar. The first bite gave way to the melting powdered sugar on the tongue. This beast was larger than my palm, and at $1.50, it was a steal. The inside was similar to a mochi with a sweet taro paste filling. Purple and white deliciousness. This sparked my need to bake something equally delectable, so I decided on a savoury pizza pretzel.
I had intended to make a pretzel, but as you can see from the pictures, they came out looking more like buns than pretzels. But they were nonetheless tasty. And better yet, they’re fa-free pizza pretzels! The dough was so soft that kneading could be done lickety split. As it was coming together, I felt that the dough called for way too much water. So you could cut back on this or you will definitely need to increase the amount of flour at your discretion because it will toughen the dough. I think that I’ll need to rework this part a bit. As you can see in the picture, there were some large holes in the texture. I think that I need to add a second rise to this before reshaping to minimize this. Also, boiling the dough longer seemed to toughen the crust, but give it more of a golden brown colour. This won’t be too important if you’re adding a pizza topping onto it. But it will become more apparent if you only put sea salt on it. Watch these like a hawk in the oven. You definitely don’t want to overcook them or they won’t be soft. And you must use a Silpat, as they have no oil in the dough, so the parchment paper stuck like nobody’s business.
Results: The bread tasted so good warm out of the oven. The crust was thin and toasty, while the inside was warm and soft. The plain salt topping really did taste like a pretzel, but oh so much more luxurious. The pizza topping won hands down though because everyone loves pizza! The next day, the insides were still soft, but the edges were no longer crusty. So this can be saved by lightly toasting it.
Classic Soft Pretzels
Adapted from Baking Bites. Makes 10
1/4 cup warm water (110F)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
10 oz all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
1 tsp olive oil
4 tbsp baking soda
1 tsp sugar
1.5 cup cold water
coarse sea salt, tomato paste, oregano, cheese (mozzarella or cheddar)
Combine yeast, hot water and sugar in small cup and leave to foam for 5 minutes. Stir flour and salt in medium bowl. Add yeast mixture and 3/4 cup water and stir until everything comes together. Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Add flour while kneading until the dough becomes smooth. (I needed an extra half cup because it was extremely sticky.)
Place in a slightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and leave to rise for one hour. (I left it in the fridge for a slow rise, taking about 3 hrs.) Dissolve baking soda in cold water. Preheat oven to 400F.
Punch down dough and cut into 10 pieces. Roll out each piece until logs are approximately 2cm diameter and twist into a pretzel shape. Let rest 15 min.
Boil water with baking soda and sugar. Dip both sides of the pretzel into boiling water and place on Silpat. Smear on some tomato paste. Then sprinkle on some mozzarella cheese and oregano. Alternatively, you can sprinkle on some coarse sea salt. Be generous with your toppings because it makes the bread taste that much better. Bake for 12-20 minutes (depending on your personal preference and oven temp), until golden brown.