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FAB – Hands-Free Bread

In Baking, Friday Afternoon Baking, Recipes on June 5, 2010 at 6:49 pm

For these past 10 months in Europe, I have been forced to give up my normal diet of tropical veggies / soy products / surimi / seafood/ kueh / malay and indian foods and adjust to a diet very much based on seasonal vegetables, dairy and bread products. I think the largest change I had to deal with going from Singapore to Europe would be this difference in the variety of food, but also the absence of like-minded superduperly-food-obsessed companions (I think other cultural changes are slightly easier to deal with haha). There is no better homesick-therapy than dining with a friend who explodes in fireworks of joy over bakkwa (Chinese sweet bbq pork) and a bowl of plain rice porridge.

But 10 months is also long enough to start feeling at home in this different world of food, and one of the things I will miss very much as I delve back into my Asian food haven this summer would be the crusty and flavourful European breads. Perhaps it was a sign to start nurturing my bread-baking skills when this week, Fakta slashed the price of high gluten wheat flour from 18kr (2.4 euros/SGD$4.20) per 2kg to a third of its price.


Honestly, my experience with bread-baking is almost entirely limited to theoretical knowledge. Apart from knowing that the requisites include a high-protein flour (to form strong gluten networks to trap the gas bubbles and give the bread a good structure) and yeast (that generates CO2 bubbles and lotsa lotsa lovely aroma compounds as it ferments the starch)…. I’m pretty useless when it comes to practical bread-baking. Hence for starters, I’ve decided to try Steamy Kitchen’s No-Knead Bread recipe, that is apparently ‘so easy even a 4 year old could do it’.

My bread-baking skill level is evidently lousier than a 4-year old because I had some trouble following the instructions and ended up with quite a mess in the kitchen. I aborted the plan and decided to just shove my dough into the oven anyway and ended up with a pretty good result 🙂 Crispy crust and a soft spongey interior, though lacking in some saltiness and flavour. Well, I never eat my breads plain anyway — so I enjoyed it with a slop of salted butter and sweet thick honey. Delicious. 🙂 Goodbye <Gardenia>… Goodbye <Sunshine>….
Kneadless Bread-Baking adapted from Steamy Kitchen

  • 350-400g bread flour
  • 1/4 yeast cake- I’d double it next time for better flavour (1 yeast cake ~ 2.5 tsp instant yeast)
  • 1 tbsp salt ( I misread it as 1tsp and hence learned the importance of salt in bread flavour)
  • 350ml warm water
  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water then mix with the flour and salt using a spatula.
  2. Cover mixing bowl with plastic wrap and leave to ferment overnight. Dough becomes puffy and stickier.
  3. Fold dough around in bowl with a spatula, flouring the surfaces of the dough to reduce sticking to the spatula. After 5min, dump it into a floured loaf tin and leave aside to rise for another 2 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 230˚C half an hour before baking. Cover loaf tin with aluminium foil and bake for 30 min. Uncover and bake for another 20 min or until golden brown and crusty.

‘FAB’-Steamed Banana Cake

In Experimental, Friday Afternoon Baking, Recipes on May 29, 2010 at 12:57 am

Surprise surprise! Another steamed cake recipe! When I say I am obsessed with something, I really mean it. I’m not going to just let it go after one try. I’d do it / make it / eat it again and again. But eating too much of the same thing would result in Sensory Specific Satiety and a decreased desire to continue eating it. That is why I set out to make as many variations of it. Neh. That was just some lame attempt to scientifically justify my actions. I simply want my muffins and cakes lower in calories, in all sorts of flavours that I like, yet still soft and moist so that I can enjoy my cakes and still have caloric allowance to enjoy all the other pleasurable foods that are out there waiting for me to enjoy. Is that too much to ask for?

You might have realized that the basic recipe of flour-sugar-egg-baking powder limits the possibilities of variations to dry flavouring ingredients like spices, essences and currants. With just 4 ingredients on the list, it might seem rather difficult to make the ingredient substitutions… but I realized it actually isn’t that complicated, really.

I found a recipe on chowtimes for steamed banana cake to make as a reward for my project group’s sensory panel. A quick comparison with the basic steamed cake recipe shows a partial substitution of egg (wet ingredient) with mashed banana (wet ingredient), and a larger amount of baking powder (1.5tsp vs 0.5tsp) to provide additional air bubbles for the rising of the cake that was originally contributed by the egg foam. The teaspoon of oil added contributes to a softer crumb texture as there is now less egg yolk (I’ll try it next time without oil just to see how significant the difference is).

The result? Soft and moist with a lovely flavour like banana quickbread. 😀


Steamed Banana Cake Recipe
adapted from ChowTimes

  • 1 ripe banana (~100g) roughly mashed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp oil (optional)
  • 2 tsp water
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 50g sugar (or adjust batter to desired sweetness)
  • 100g flour
  1. Heat up your steamer.
  2. Mix the wet ingredients together and fold in the dry ingredients quickly.
  3. Pour into dish and steam for ~15min. (I made one 15cm x 22cm oval cake, 3-4cm in height)
  4. Voila! Done in a jiffy!

Variation #1: with 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon added. While this was steaming, I mixed together Variation #2: with 1 heaping tsp cocoa powder added.
The cinnamon version was so well-received that I made another for tomorrow’s Project Emotions Picnic in Sweden 🙂 This time with 1.5 times the above recipe with 1 tsp of cinnamon, additional 1 tbsp of water to substitute the extra half an egg, an extra handful of raisins and a half banana sliced and arranged on top! 😀

FAB – Chewy Tofu Coconut Cookies

In Baking, Friday Afternoon Baking, Recipes on May 15, 2010 at 3:40 pm

A couple of weeks ago, silken tofu was on sale at the supermarket Netto, and I couldn’t resist grabbing one tetrapack off the shelf despite it still being 5 times the price I would normally pay (as opposed to 15x–I’ve seen the same tofu selling for a ridiculous SGD$11/ 5.50 Euros elsewhere). I miss tofu and all its soy relatives– silken, pressed, skin, dried, puffed, stuffed… tempeh, doubanjiang, edamame, soy milk/yoghurt/icecream…. hmm perhaps even some natto on my rice now would make me one happy girl.

Unbelievably this block of tofu survived uneaten for 2 weeks. Each time I’d reach for it and promptly put it back, hoping for recipe inspirations that would be befitting of tofu’s current gold-worthy status. I have no idea why I’m making such a big fuss about paying SGD$4– it’s not expensive per se (by Danish standards) but only expensive by comparison. Sometimes I’m just so stubborn. The good news is that in less than 7 weeks, I will be sitting by Mr Bean at Bukit Batok, pigging out on soya bean ice cream after stuffing my face with tahu goreng and yong tau foo… ahhh heaven.

It was just about time for another FAB session, hence I finally willed myself to let go of my dear tofu and make some cookies out of it. I figured that perhaps if I made the tofu into 50 cookies, I’ll at least enjoy its deliciousness over a greater number of days HA! I used about 3/4 of the block to make Susan’s Okara cookie recipe (and kept the rest to enjoy in a nice bowl of noodle soup). I actually had absolutely no idea until recently that tofu can be used as a fat replacer in baked recipes. Evidently, almost anything that disrupts the gluten network formation in baked goods (a balance of tougheners and tenderizers) can be used to some effect as a fat replacer — with inevitable textural changes of course, but nevertheless with very yummy results. 🙂


This recipe yields 50 small soft chewy cookies with the nutty bite of sunflower seeds, light crunch of coconut shreds and the mild fragrance of soy bean and vanilla. Put it back into the oven for 5-10 min longer if you’d like more of a crisp edge on the cookie for additional crunch and a popcorn-type roasty flavour.

Tofu Coconut Cookies adapted from FatFree Vegan Kitchen

  • 50g unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 120g flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 140g sugar
  • 250g firm tofu pureed
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • handful of sunflower seeds (or any nuts/seeds that you desire)
  • (3 tbsp water if necessary)

1. Preheat the oven to 190˚C.
2. Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl (tofu last).
3. Add some water (2-3tbsp) to make a thick batter that holds shape.
4. Spoon heaping teaspoons onto a baking sheet and flatten with the back of the spoon.
5. Bake for about 15-20min until slightly browned on the surface and crisp on the edges. Cookies will absorb some moisture upon cooling, so it doesn’t hurt to have the cookies a little drier/harder than you want it before taking it out of the oven.
6. Store in air tight boxes once cooled.

FAB – Checkerboard Cookies

In Baking, Friday Afternoon Baking, Recipes on April 24, 2010 at 1:35 am

The difficulties in studying food choice behavior is very much due to how food takes on a multitude of meanings that differ from situation to situation, individual to individual. If eating food were as simple an equation as hunger and satiety, then I believe that with the amount of research done thus far, solving the world’s eating problems should be as easy as pie. But that’s apparently not the case, because when food looks like this:


it is no longer just food for the mouth. LOOK at these butter cookies. Just one GLANCE at these cute squares and I bet you would ignore all hormonal signals of fullness… and despite knowing that there’s probably a 100kcal in each of these evil thingies, you still can’t resist eating 5 of them at one go. Am I right? Am I right?? 😀

Here, food assumes another purpose that is beyond that of satisfying the body and the senses. The only way it can then fulfill its purpose in existence is for it to be given away to others… to bring about as much joy as possible to as many people as possible. Yes, that must be its mission.

I made these cookies with L and M in mind, two lovely architects whom we (6 of us sensory science students) have been working with for the past two months to conceptualize and realize an odour menu as part of an experimental theatre production (unfortunately the link is only in Danish) at the Temporary National Theatre. Looking back on the two months and six shows, I feel a happy fuzziness inside me that justifies each of those times I dragged my feet to lab to mix odorous chemicals and smelling like I’ve been brewed in beef broth for 24h…. and each of those times I cycled in the cold to get to the Skuespilhuset 45min away from home….I wanted to make something for them that was both delicious and simple (butter cookies) and attractive (definitely not the typical butter cookies), but at the same time embodies some element of drama and incomprehensibility of the Kafka theatre concept. I hope they like it. 🙂 Now I shall divulge the secret of how-to-make-a-checkerboard cookie on this FAB session (okay, alright, you can easily find this on the internet lol)!


Checkerboard Cookies recipe from Martha Stewart

  • 225g butter, unsalted
  • 110g sugar*
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 300g flour (2.5 cups)
  • 2-3 tbsp cocoa powder (13-20g)
  • 1 egg + 1 tbsp water

1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then mix in extracts and salt.
2. Combine with flour (I rubbed in with my fingertips)
3. Knead into a dough after all the creamed butter and flour have been combined
4. Divide into 2 equal portions, knead in cocoa powder into one half (careful, the powder tends to spray all over)
5. Roll out into 20cm squares, slightly less than 1 cm thick. (from here you can start referring to the photo below)
6. Cut out nine 1-1.5cm wide strips of each dough and set the remainder aside for the meantime.
7. Stack it up in alternate colours and brush edges with egg wash as you stack them together to help the strips stick together.
8. Roll out the remainder till it’s wide enough to wrap completely the stacked up strips.
9. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30min to chill and firm up. Meanwhile heat up the oven at 175˚C.
10. Unwrap and slice the cookies with about 0.5-0.7cm thickness. Bake on a cookie sheet for 12min. They will still be soft when warm. I transferred them to kitchen towels to soak up the excess fat. Cookies are crisp when cool (but not crunchy) like normal butter cookies.
*Cookies weren’t sweet enough so I coated the base by melting some chocolate in the microwave, mixing in a few drops of almond essence into the chocolate, coating the base and leaving them to cool on baking paper. You might want to add 50-100g more sugar to avoid having to use chocolate to sweeten the cookie up, but more chocolate is always good 😉

*Note to self: try stacking out new designs! 🙂

FAB – Tangy Tomato Peas of Cake!

In Baking, Friday Afternoon Baking, Recipes on April 17, 2010 at 5:56 pm

I’ve always marveled at the amount of resolve pea pickers have. Yes, those diligent diggers who pick every single little pea out of their plates (even the puny Dutch peas and half peas and the pea innards that fall out of their skins). What is it about peas, really? What is it that makes kids say ‘pea-ew’ and parents say ‘eat your peas or I won’t let you have your ice cream’. Is it their flavour? Their freaky dimpled heads? Or their sheer numbers (the thought of fighting 100 peas vs 3 leaves of cabbage)?

A couple of days ago, I chanced upon an interesting muffin recipe while scouring the net for recipe solutions to the pea (or veg) eating issue. Here’s my list of criteria upon applying research lessons learnt from Food Choice course:

  1. Don’t give the kiddo a chance to pick the peas out. (common sense)
  2. Sneak the peas into the kiddo’s favourite food (but remember, the food still has to look good and taste good).
  3. Make sure the pea flavour is still recognisable, and the texture still fleetingly present (in order for flavour-flavour learning to take place)
  4. Divulge the identity of the peas only if the kiddo expresses a liking for the cake (positive reinforcement), otherwise blame it on adding too much sugar / fat (aversive learning). hurhur cunning.
  5. Stop telling the kiddo to ‘eat your peas, or else…’ (confers negative intrinsic meaning to the peas).

Unlike my usual kitchen adventures, this time I followed the recipe to the T, only reducing the batch size and making it into one cake in a loaf tin for easier dividing into bite-sized portions. I must admit that I was rather skeptical at first (peas and tomatoes in dessert?!) but I’m now absolutely won over. The tangy volcanic vermillion tomato layer with the sweet speckled pea layer was a burst of colours and flavours, with a wonderfully soft texture dispersed with nutty green bits of pea. Whoopidolicious! Excellent party food especially for Christmas and Halloween. And btw, it was wiped out at the dinner party I brought it to, despite the warning sign of PEAS AND TOMATO CAKE EXPERIMENT.


Sweet Pea & Tangy Tomato Cake Recipe originally in muffin form by Sylvia Regalado

  • 200g flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 200g sugar
  • 80ml oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice (half a lemon)
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 100g frozen peas pureed (not too fine because the bits add a really nice texture!)
  • 100g tomato paste

1. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt
2. Mix the eggs, sugar, oil, lemon juice and vanilla essence in a separate bowl
3. Fold in (2) to (1)
4. Divide equally into two bowls (about 300g each) and mix in pea puree to one and tomato paste to the other.
5. Pour the pea batter into an approx 30cm long rectangular loaf tin (better heat transfer to the centre than a square or round tin), then top with the tomato batter. Use a fork to swirl parts of the layered mixture or drag some pea batter from the bottom if you’d like to create a marble effect.
6. Bake in preheated oven at 190˚C for 25-30min!


Tastes great too with Greek Yogurt Vanilla Frosting! 🙂 A lovely healthy frosting recipe from the Cupcake Project.

World Peas.

FAB – The GBP Muffin

In Baking, Experimental, Friday Afternoon Baking, Recipes on April 10, 2010 at 4:21 pm

I have a confession to make.

I am a compulsive snacker.
Doh!! Nothing new ha….

Despite how anti-healthy it sounds, I must say that this addiction of mine is one of my greatest motivations and source of inspiration in developing healthier recipe alternatives with unexpectedly good flavour combinations and a chew factor to please a study snacker.

First of all, because I have to keep eating all the time (I’ve a long reputation of being the skinny girl who is always hungry), I am always sourcing out affordable low calorie and nutrient dense snacks that I can munch on the whole day without doing my body too much damage. My current favourite snack food is bran flakes from Fakta, (18kr/SGD$4.50 for a huge box of 500g that would last me at least 2-3 weeks of snacking), which I put in milk or yogurt or in sandwiches for fibre and crunch; which I use as little dishes to hold flakes of reduced fat brunost (weird-sounding but good!); or which simply tastes so delicious on their own. With a 70% composition of whole grains, 14.5g of fibre and 330kcal per 100g (one rice bowl of bran flakes is about 30g), I load up on fibre whilst getting a healthy dose of B1, B2 and B3 vitamins that are essential for health but often very much lacking in low-meat diets.


Second of all, because I am munching all the time, I often pop one thing in my mouth after another, and make surprising discoveries when the residual flavours of the previous snack combines harmoniously with my next snack. Or with my drink. Flavour combinations that people normally don’t put together, but are sometimes a match-made-in-heaven just waiting to materialize.

Two days ago, I was preparing a training presentation for my emotions research rater panel and snacking on a bowl of bran flakes and some ginger tea (2 slices of ginger in one pot of boiling water. Addictive right, L? ;)). It suddenly occurred to me that I should perhaps check if the ABC cake I have promised to share with my panel was still in lovely happy shape (just an excuse to eat lah), but I was rather upset that the crust at the base of my cake was now unrecognizable (moisture migration, what was I expecting?). Well, guess what I did? I stuck bran flakes at the base to recreate that crust and boy was it good! Then I sipped some ginger tea, and WOW the ginger balanced out the estery sweetness of the banana flavour really well! I also recalled a positive experience of bran flakes in pear-banana yogurt (fyi: one of the most popular yogurt flavour here in Denmark) and so I invited one of my pear friends to join in the party.

Voila! Ginger-Banana-Pear-Bran…and I pick….. MUFFIN! Quick and easy! And with bananas in the recipe, going low fat is naturally predetermined.

Ginger Banana Pear Bran Muffin Recipe created from a basic 2 parts dry : 2 parts liquid : 1 egg : 0.5 fat basic muffin recipe

  • 60g bran flakes cereal (approx 1 cup volume but half is void space)
  • 125g flour (1 cup)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • sprinkle of salt (enhances sweetness of the food)
  • 140ml milk (slightly >1/2 cup)
  • 1 egg
  • 100g banana (2/3 cup)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • sprinkle salt
  • 1 small pear chopped in bits (1/2 cup)
  • 2tsp grated ginger
  • 40g sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 200˚C. Prepare 12 muffin cups (I used non-stick silicon muffin cups – no grease, no paper).
  2. Combine bran flakes and milk and stand till moistened. Mix in egg, oil, mashed bananas, ginger and chopped pear bits.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and sugar.
  4. Fold in wet ingredients (2) into dry ingredients (3). Mix till just combined. Fill muffin pan / holder until 2/3 full.
  5. Bake for 25min until top is golden brown.

The results:

  • Ginger + cinnamon + banana = yum! I’d recommend adding some sunflower seeds or nuts. One almond on top was not enough to satisfy me.
  • Overall the texture was pretty good, but I was hoping for the texture to be a little more tender. Too much liquid and too little fat enhanced the gluten development, especially around the bits of pear fruit. I’d take out the pear because its flavour was too mild (I’ll eat it on the side instead hurhur). And maybe I’ll add carrots instead. And avocado. Oh wait, that sounds familiar…? 😛 So take out the pear, and add another tbsp of oil. I’ll report my results next time.

FAB – Fat Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

In Baking, Friday Afternoon Baking, Recipes on April 3, 2010 at 11:57 am

Eaters beware: with all this media hype promoting instant solutions to complex eating issues, it’s just so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that labels such as FAT FREE (cookies), CHOLESTEROL FREE (ice cream), NO MSG ADDED (cup noodles) or ONLY NATURAL INGREDIENTS (sweetened jams) are invitations to consume the food freely. Perhaps they might be to some extent more healthful options in relation to their counterpart containing the nutrient / additive specified in the claim, but they are not necessarily ‘healthy’ per se. A health claim is not a passport to gorge yourself with the food item, but simply a piece of information to suggest it might be good if you make a 1-for-1 replacement of whatever full / additive-laden version you’re using right now, and use it like you normally do.

Let’s take the danish yoghurts for example: on a basis of 100g of yoghurt, a pear-banana flavoured regular yoghurt contains 90kcal (12g sugar, 3g fat), low fat 0.5% version contains 70kcal (12g sugar, 0.4g fat), a plain natural yoghurt contains 60kcal (3.5g sugar, 3.5g fat) and the low fat 0.1% version contains 35kcal (3.8g sugar, 0.1g fat). Conclusions: 1. flavoured yoghurts contain significantly more sugar i.e. calories 2. uncontrolled gorging on low fat/fat-free products is not a good idea unless you’re intending to compensate later in the day. Makes sense, right? 

That said, here’s a nice fat free oatmeal raisin cookie recipe for you. I have picked this recipe for my FAB because: 1. I’ve got all the ingredients with me (my breakfast material), 2. I love oatmeal raisin cookies, 3. it’s cheap, easy and fast, 4. I’m totally obsessed with chewy snacks and 5. if I can make some good study-snacks, while treating myself to some fibre and cutting the fat— isn’t that perfect?? But if you’re looking for a ‘healthy snack’, from a nutrition point of view, I’d suggest cooking the oats and skimmed milk into oatmeal instead. Nutritious and filling, with fewer empty calories and a lower GI index than these SWEET and ADDICTIVE chewy oatmeal raisin cookies. I’d make these over and over again, if I hadn’t so many recipes I want to try!

Chewy Fat Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies adapted from Maddie Ruud’s Recipe

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1.5-2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 75g sugar, 15g vanilla sugar (or 90g sugar + 1tsp vanilla essence, which I didn’t have)
  • 1/3 cup applesauce (which I didn’t have, so I substituted with 80g pectin-stabilized* apricot jam and cut 25g of sugar off the original recipe containing 115g sugar because that was some really cloyingly sweet jam I had!)
  • 1/2 cup skimmed milk
  • 1 cup raisins
  1. Preheat oven to 190˚C.
  2. Sift together flour, vanilla sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir in rolled oats.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix all other ingredients.
  4. Combine (2) and (3) and mix well.
  5. Drop teaspoon-sized balls of batter onto non-stick cookie sheet.
  6. Bake 12-15 minutes.

(makes 60pcs of 4cm-diameter cookies)

*Here’s an interesting article on pectin-rich material as fat-replacers in cookies.

Recipe alternatives: out of curiosity, I placed some back into the oven to bake for another 3 minutes (tasters said yummy! – harder and less gummy) and some for 6min (too hard!). Still love both though, but I think next time I’ll flatten the cookies more if I were to bake it longer.

FAB – Soft German Pretzels

In Baking, Friday Afternoon Baking, German, Recipes on March 29, 2010 at 1:48 am

Friday Afternoon Baking (FAB) is my new venture into regular baking. I love to bake goodies for special occasions such as festive seasons (Chinese New Year and Christmas), as well as for parties and birthdays. But why should I wait for such occasions in order to bake? Loving to bake IS good enough reason to get myself away from boring lecture notes and whip up some yummylicious goodies. My theme for FAB is the search for quick and easy recipes with affordable common ingredients that I can whip up in a jiffy and give away to friends weekly without burning a hole in the pocket.

I first learnt about pretzels through Auntie Anne’s, a pretzel chain that is ever so ubiquitous in Singapore. In fact, Auntie Anne’s is pretty much synonymous with pretzels to almost any Singaporean. I’ve tried it once but never quite liked it because the one I had was soaked in an incredibly soggy amount of fat. Never really wanted another pretzel since then (in 2003 maybe?) until I had the fresh soft pretzels (mit Weißwurst und süßer Senf ) in Baden-Württemburg when I was there for a music festival in October 2009. The roasty flavour of the crust, with its soft interior and specks of saltiness was absolutely addictive. I was instantly hooked and each time I pop over to Germany (I was studying in Wageningen, NL for 6 months before Copenhagen), I’d always make it a point to grab a bag of these ‘steering wheels’.

Pretzels are pretty simple to make, they’re affordable and they make a great breakfast or mid morning / afternoon snack. They are also particularly interesting, from the perspective of a food scientist. If you’ve had any hint of a chemistry education, you might have heard of Maillard browning — the non-enzymatic browning reaction that makes our lovely roast chicken brown and bursting with caramelic roasty aromas. The Maillard reaction is a very complex one, involving a cascade of reactions that begins with sugar and protein (I shan’t go into details of Schiff base formation)… but one interesting fact is that this reaction is promoted by a basic (opposite of acidic) environment, enhancing the extent of browning and flavour development. This is the key to the pretzel’s beautiful dark brown crust. Check out khymos for more chemistry!

Here’s my first attempt at pretzel-making. Not exactly how it would look in a German bakery, but it tastes good, alright! Recipe was adapted from The Fresh Loaf, but I made 9 smaller pretzels instead of 6, sprinkled some poppy seeds and used yeast cakes instead of instant yeast (matter of availability). Enjoy!

Soft German Pretzel Recipe

  • Half a yeast cake (or 1 tsp instant yeast)
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar / malt sugar / any sugar
  • 2-3 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Baking soda bath (about 2 tbsp sodium bicarbonate in about 500ml water)
  1. Disperse yeast in warm milk.
  2. Mix 2 cups of flour with salt, sugar and milk-yeast mixture.
  3. Add additional flour until combined into a soft dough. Knead until smooth (about 5 min), cover with plastic wrap, then set aside in a warm water bath to rest for an hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 220˚C while preparing to shape dough.
  5. Shaping of dough: divide dough into as many portions as you want pretzels (how big do you want your pretzel to be?), stretch into cylindrical lengths of dough (I find it easy to grab two ends and gently flick it like an elastic rope). Shape as desired.
  6. Dunk the pretzel in a simmering sodium bicarbonate bath for about 5 seconds, then transfer to a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt / sesame / spice mix / poppy seeds / cinnamon sugar / really, anything you want on your pretzel.
  7. Bake for 12-14min or until golden brown.