It’s always embarrassing when the Waitrose man asks why you’re the third person looking for malt extract that day and you have to reply that it’s ‘for a Bake Off thing’. (You can get it in Holland and Barrett, who knew?) I thought I’d not come across it before but actually, of course I have – Kanga gave it to Tigger and Roo as their strengthening medicine. Anyhoo, hurrah, the last ever technical bake! And quite an enjoyable one at that, using a grand total of zero eggs. Not too tricky either (once you know how long to boil them for), although it seems that I misread Paul’s instructions and did mine upside down, with the tails sticking up in the air. Oh well, they look pretzel-y enough for me. George Bush would be quaking in his boots.
For the dough:
500g strong white bread flour
40g butter, softened
1tbsp malt extract
Zest of 2 oranges
50g poppy seeds
3 tsp bicarbonate of soda
20g rock salt
50g sesame seeds
Juice of 3 oranges, zest of 1
Let’s take a moment to appreciate the beauty of this set.
1. Tip the flour into a large bowl and put the yeast on one side and the salt on the other. Add the butter on top. Dissolve the malt extract in the milk then gradually pour into the flour, mixing to form a dry dough.
2. Knead on a clean work surface (you won’t need any extra flour) until soft and smooth, 10-20 minutes. Divide into two equal balls and add the poppy seeds and orange zest to one, kneading until the seeds are evenly dispersed. Place each ball of dough in a separate, oiled bowl, cover and leave to prove in a warm place for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 200C and put a large pan of water on to boil. Paul says 7 litres, but my largest took 4 litres and that seemed to work just fine.
4. Divde each ball of dough into six equal pieces, and roll each one into a 40-50cm long sausage with a slight bulge in the middle. You might need to revisit each one, as they do spring back slightly.
5. Shape your pretzels either by flipping them around in the air or, if you’re not a show off, just cross the ends over each other twice before sealing them either side of the central bulge.
6. Add the bicarbonate of soda to the boiling water. Using a slotted spoon, lower each pretzel in the water one at a time for 5 seconds, then remove to a large baking sheet. Whilst the plain pretzels are still wet, sprinkle with the rock salt and sesame seeds. Slash the bulge of each pretzel with a sharp knife before baking for 20-25 minutes until well browned.
7. Meanwhile, make the orange glaze. Finely shred the orange zest and heat in a small saucepan with the juice and 100g sugar. Boil for 1 minute, then remove the zest and coat with the remaining sugar. Boil the rest of the mixture over a high heat until thick and sticky.
8. Place the pretzels on wire racks and top the sweet ones with the glaze and candied orange.