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once upon a norza

i am norza and this is my blog

Cinnamon sugar rolls

Long long time ago, I told myself that if I ever do start baking, I will avoid doing anything that has yeast in it. But Aisyah wanted to eat pretzels after watching an episode of Blues Clues one day and I immediately searched for the easiest-looking recipe on allrecipes and found the Buttery Soft Pretzels recipe. I followed everything and knead the dough like crazy. I leapt with joy when the dough rise twice its original size 2hrs later. The end result was satisfying although a batch was overbaked and I had to throw that batch away.

After reading other bakers' reviews on the recipes, I made some adjustments but the dough didnt rise at all on my 2nd try. I suspected that the water was too warm and it killed my yeast. I tried again on the 3rd try and here it is. The best out of all three.

Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels (Adapted from The Little Teochew)

- 1 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 4 cups regular flour
- 1 1/8 teaspoon salt

- A tray of cinnamon sugar
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted

For boiling the pretzels (I skipped this)
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons baking soda

1. In a mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water. Add sugar and stir to dissolve.

2. Add flour and knead dough until smooth and elastic. Let rise for 40-60 minutes at least.

3. Shaping the dough: Divide the dough into parts and roll it out. Make sure to keep both the ends thinner than the rest of it since the ends will be tied together and become thicker eventually. Also, make sure that you roll them out thin, not more than 1/2 inch in diameter, because they will swell up twice - once after the water bath and then when they are baking.

4. Next, boil the two water and add the baking soda. Reduce heat till you get a gentle simmer. Drop the pretzels in the water bath and let them stay in for about 5 seconds. After the pretzels are removed, make sure you dry the excess liquid on a kitchen towel before placing on the baking sheet/silpat/baking stone.

5. Place the pretzels on a baking sheet and brush with a lightly eaten egg. Bake in a preheated oven at 220 degree celsius for ten minutes or until golden. Let cool on a wire rack. Brush with the melted butter and sprinkle the sugar cinnamon all over it.

The recipe sounds easy but kneading the dough is torturous to my prata arms. lol! Seriously I don't know when to stop kneading the dough.

“How do you know when you’ve put in enough flour?” and “How/how long do I knead?”

I’ve seen the same recipes you’ve seen. Ones that say “5 to 6 cups of flour.” How frustrating is that, not to know exactly how much of an ingredient we’re supposed to put in something?! It kind of makes you get a little hot and sweaty as you slowly keep adding flour, hoping that the dough will eventually look “right.” The sweating continues as you frantically knead, eyes on the timer. When it goes off, you still wonder, “Have I done enough? How do I know if I have done enough?” Let’s look at these techniques one at a time.

Mixing the Dough

First, almost any bread recipe will give you a range for the amount of flour called for. This is because, on any given day and depending on the protein content of your particular flour, it will accept more or less water depending upon the humidity and temperature in the air and the humidity and temperature of your flour.

If making a standard, four ingredient bread in a stand mixer, a good rule of thumb is to add the last few ounces of flour a bit at a time, stopping when the dough doesn’t stick to the sides or bottom of the bowl when kneading. If you’re making the dough by hand, knead in the last few ounces a bit at a time until the dough is no longer sticky. Even that is a vague instruction: add flour until the dough is soft and smooth, not wet and sticky, but not completely dry, either. (See why I say that this takes practice)?!

To get a better feel for this, make your dough with a stand mixer, and then take it out of the mixer bowl when it clears the sides and bottom. Now you can examine it for feel and texture before you knead.

Here’s another rule for you: never add more than the maximum flour called for in the range. If you have to err, err on the side of too little flour rather than too much flour—a bit too little flour will give you a very good rise; too much flour will yield a dense loaf.

Now, on to kneading.

First, here’s a quick definition: kneading is the process by which you align and elongate gluten strands to develop them to the point that it can hold the gasses that the yeast give off. This makes your bread rise and then set in the oven. The more well-developed your gluten “web,” the more gasses your bread will hold, the higher it will rise and the more open and airy its texture.

Kneading also helps to evenly distribute the yeast and the gasses it creates throughout your dough. This will result in a more even crumb in your finished loaf. Everything you try so hard to avoid doing to pie dough, you try to do when making bread.
from How to make Homemade Bread at Home

The recipe said that once my dough is soft as a baby's bum, I can stop. I added a bit of cooking oil and flour in between the kneadings. I kneaded for almost an hour and it's still gooey. By then I got frustrated and almost wanted to give up. I told myself to just let it rise and if it doesn't, I shall not attempt to make pretzels anymore.

Somehow the yeast worked its magic and the dough doubled in a couple of hours time. I didn't make any pretzel shapes so I just coiled it round and round making rolls instead. It was already dinnertime for the girls and I actually wanted to surprise the husband and I simply had no time already. And off they went into the oven with a Bismillah and the rolls came out better than I expected. Everyone enjoyed the rolls and I was glad that my efforts paid off. phew! I will definitely try this again because I have a few sachets of yeast expiring next month!
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