October Seasonal Ingredient- Vegetarian Pastrami, Cheese and Rosemary Pretzels

It’s time for my spooky Halloween seasonal ingredient recipes! Ok…so this one isn’t so spooky or Halloween but I promise the next one is so just enjoy my failed (2nd) attempt at these savoury pretzels. In my last post, I mentioned alot of the things I've been trying haven’t been working out at all, I'm not sure why that is but yet again this is another recipe where I had everything in place to make some awesome pretzels and I managed to overcook them at the last minute. In my first pretzel recipe, although they look dark they were the perfect mix of crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside, these on the other hand were still soft on the inside but just way too overdone on the crust. But never mind, I’ll give you the recipe and you can try it for yourself, I'm sure yours won't burn! 

Makes 4 

2 tbsp Bicarbonate of Soda, baked
180ml Warm Water 
4g Dried Yeast 
15g Dark Brown Sugar 
1 tsp Sea Salt 
250g Bread Flour 
2 tbsp Oil 
1 Egg, beaten 
2-3 slices of Meat-Free Pastrami 
1 slice of Cheese, diced 
4 tsp of Dried Rosemary 

To start with we want to bake our bicarb, in my first pretzel recipe I explained why we do this so head over to that one if you want to know why but for now preheat the oven at 120C/ 100 Fan/ Gas Mark 2. Make a pile of the bicarb on a non-stick tray/ silicon baking mat and let this warm through in the oven for an hour, it won't change colour or consistency but an hour will be enough. 

In a medium-sized bowl pour in the water and yeast and let it sit for 5 mins until you start to see the yeast bubble. 

Now, add in the sugar and salt then stir with a wooden spoon until the majority of the yeast has dissolved. 

Pour in the flour and oil and mix with a wooden spoon until you have a loose, clumpy dough. 

Bring the dough together with your hands and place it on a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for 5-10 mins until smooth and elastic then shape into a ball. Place 1/2 a tsp of oil into your bowl and spread it around the bottom and sides. Place the dough into the bowl, cover with a damp tea towel then leave somewhere warm to rise for an hour. 

Once risen, punch the air out of it and separate the dough into 4 balls. With each ball roll it out into a 60cm long sausage shape, fold the sausage shape into a ‘U’ and cross the two ends over the top of each other to look like bunny ears, fold the bunny ears backwards onto the dough to form the classic pretzel shape. If you need some pictures to follow along with, have a look at my first pretzel recipe. Once you have your pretzels, place them on a large greased baking tray. 

Cover the pretzels with a damp tea towel and leave them in a warm place to rise for 30 mins. In the last 10 mins of rising time preheat the oven to 240C, 220 Fan/ Gas Mark 6.

Now your bicarb should be ready! Pour 1L of boiling water into a medium-sized pan on medium heat, tip the bicarb in and let the water boil then reduce the heat to low and let the water simmer. Stir every couple of minutes until the bicarb breaks down and the water is cloudy. One at a time, place the pretzels into the water letting them boil for 30 seconds on each side before transferring back to the baking tray, boiling the pretzels before baking gives them that famous chewy outer texture. 

Brush your beaten egg over the top and sides of each pretzel then sprinkle on your diced cheese, pastrami and 1 tsp of rosemary per pretzel. You can see the idea I was going for here and I must say, I think they looked pretty good at this point! 

Bake the pretzels in the oven for 12-15 mins. In the last 5 mins, I covered them with foil to stop them from darkening any further but apparently, my oven had other ideas this time. Once baked, take them out of the oven and let them cool for 15 mins before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. 

As you’ve probably guessed I didn't quite mean for the outer crust to get quite as overdone as it is, but the inside is still lovely and fluffy so I guess we got lucky there but I think my first pretzels were alot better. I loved the idea of this meat-free pastrami (which tastes amazing by the way) from Squeaky Bean and the melted cheese and aromatic rosemary would have all been a great topping…had it not pretty much burnt, but I’ll try again with a different topping around Christmas and hopefully, it’ll work out much better! But for now, I’m staying honest and we’ll keep trying with my crazy ideas, some work great and some fail but it’s all fun! 

Only 9 days until Halloween! We’re into single digits now! 

H x