Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Evil Kenevil Baking / Surviving Pretzel Bread

So there I am standing alone, I'm in aisle #3 at Walgreen's.

I usually don't like to shop there because its a haven for consumers over 80, and often times, if you just need to grab one product, you'll have to wait in line for 30 minutes while the seniors in front of you fumble through their coupons, or bark at the cashier over treacherous pricing.

But I'm out of Suda Fed, and between allergies, sleep apnea....if Klecko is going to breath, its simply mandatory that he knocks down a couple little red pills every morning.

In Saint Paul, when a guy asks the pharmacist for a package of the 12 hour generics, they take your I.D. and run it through some computer scanner.

They do this because my salvation drug, is also the coveted source of dudes who run Meth Labs and Crack Houses.

Even though Klecko is an esteemed member of society, and more in particular...the 651, he could just walk up and make this simple purchase.

But whose kidding who. I look like a thug,and perception scares me so to keep everybody happy, I like to get a handful of personal hygiene products in hopes that a 1/2 full basket of toiletries will delude suspicious minds LOL.

Aisle #3 has hair care products, so I pull a couple yellow canisters of "Surf Dirt" fiber. This is one of 6 products that I will combine when constructing my "go out on a date pompadour".

Next I slide over to aisle #4, a guy can never have too much antiperspirant. I have always been an OLD SPICE guy. I like how their products smell, and to be honest, deep down I like to picture Klecko as some Salty Dog Sailor entering into an exotic port.

But one thing about buying OLD SPICE is you have to be really careful because they have like 20 different scents, and 1/2 of those are simply deodorant.

Can any of you, or just one of you explain why on earth they even make deodorant?

The stuff is just perfume and basically it just blankets a guys stink.

I remember in High School, I hung out with this cat named Joey Buddha. Joey had an older brother named Simon, and he played in some 3rd level garage band that actually merited a little bit of buzz.

Simon liked to wear top hats and capes. When you are a neighborhood rock star, you can get away with that and nobody will hurt.

But Simon didn't like to bathe...

Instead he would just run up the staircase, grab one of Joeys cigarettes, and then start puffing on it as he blasted his pits with his deodorant stick.

Something about B.O. and floral scents mixed together seems to defy logic in my book but....

But now I throw the OLD SPICE SWAG antiperspirant in my basket and my droid sounds off. I answer cordially, it's a chick wanting the pastry chef job at the bakery. I asked her what her dream job was, and she responded that she was pretty certain she was going to meld Peanut Brittle into a Food Network concept.

So I hung up, and knowing I shouldn't do it.....I did it anyway.

I checked my Facebook messages in the Walgreen's toothpaste aisle.

One of my friends is Marina Snetkova, she is from Latvia originally and now she bounces around Cali pursuing all things culinary and athletic.

Over the course of our friendship I have marveled how this chick can climb mountains, swim oceans and make level 10 duck.

Girlio has a mad skill set, but today she wants a really-really good Pretzel Bread recipe right?

And I'm in the aisle trying to text the gospel of baking with caustic soda.

Of all baking principals, this is w/o a doubt the most advanced. If you don't pay attention, you can end up burnt, blind or worse.

Marina, when we were talking earlier I didn't have the time to give you all the info you needed, so here we go.

Once again, this is dare devil stuff, I'm not trying to scare you, I'm just saying that if you don't respect this process and focus really-really hard, there are numerous ways you can get dented all squish like.

I am the worlds biggest idiot, I'll own it, but I've made this fantastic-fantastic bread over 100 times, and I have always avoided mayhem.

However, when doing this, no distractions, no conversations.....just engage in the project and finish.

Caustic Soda is the magic ingredient that the Scandinavians use to prepare their lutefisk.

If you can find a pro that has done this before, it might be good to watch the process once, but Marina.....here is the explanation you deserve........

Klecko's Pretzel Bread


* 1 T. yeast (or 1 package),
dissolved for 5 minutes in 1/4 c. warm water
* 4 1/4 c. bread flour (the higher the protein level the better)
* 11/4 c. warm water
* 2 tsp. salt
* 2 1/2 T. shortening

Tools needed

* Plastic gloves (use a new pair each bake session)
* Stainless steel receptacle for the solution
* Safety goggles
* 1 oz. food-grade lye (caustic soda), dissolved in 1 quart of water
* Rubber Parchments (I prefer those French Silpats)


Pretzels are not made at home very often, because their secret taste is due to them being dipped in lye before baking. Lye, or caustic soda burns skin and eyes and gloves and safety glasses are essential when making this pretzel recipe.

Don't go Beevis and Butthead and do something stupid like try this when you are drunk, or do this in the presence of children or pets.

USE EXTREME CAUTION: Lye is caustic and a 3% solution is considered corrosive. Always use gloves and safety glasses. Wearing long sleeves, pants and close-toed shoes is recommended.

Measure the flour into a mixing bowl, add the salt and the proofed yeast and 1 cup of warm water. Mix by hand or with a stand mixer with dough hook until flour mixture comes together into a stiff ball. Add water as needed to form dough.

We want this to have the consistency of a bagel dough.

Knead for 5 minutes, and then add the shortening and knead for at least 5 more minutes, or until fat is fully incorporated. At this time, the dough should be firm but not dry.

Form into a football, place it onto the sheet pan (which has the rubber parchment (Silpat). If you use paper parchments, sometimes the pretzel dough will weld to the sheet pan.

Make the lye solution: Put on your gloves and goggles. Place 1 quart of water in a stainless steel container, weigh 1 ounce of food grade caustic soda into a bowl and add slowly to the water, stirring with a plastic spoon or similar object. ALWAYS ADD THE LYE TO THE WATER!

The nice thing about Pretzel Bread is that it requires no proof time.

So now Marina should dip each piece for 30 seconds in the lye solution. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on greased or parchment-paper-lined baking sheet.

I like to score 3 diagonal lines across the top of the football.

This will add contrast. the crumb wall will be dark-dark brown....but the cuts will remain white....coolio!

Heat oven to 400°F. Bake pretzels for 20-25 minutes, or until deep golden brown.

Dispose of lye solution according to county and state hazardous waste regulations. This might include dilution of the solution with water, neutralization with an acid and subsequent dilution, or taking the waste to a disposal facility. You might also keep the lye solution in a tightly closed, non metallic container, clearly labeled, to use again, although I don't recommend this.

Good Luck Marina


  1. Hahhaaaa, I almost fell off the chair, laughing. I TOTALLY was going to cheat with simple baking soda, but now I feel I MUST live up to the challenge!

  2. Cookietime Truck....you can make level 1 Pretzel bread, or level 100.......dare to dream kid. If you follow this recipe.....I swear you will produce loaves that will make the angels smile.

  3. I've made pretzels with both baking soda and lye. Working with the lye is a pain, but the results are WAY better!

  4. For the record....Bill is a true blue German (funny hat and all LOL) so trust his opinion!

  5. Where is food-grade caustic soda available in the 651?