Sourdough Pretzels

Sourdough pretzel dough is straightforward, there’s a trick to the crisp “shell” and soft center. Get sourdough recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
Have you ever decided to try a recipe for the first time for a party? That was our first attempt at Sourdough Pretzel Bites. Several years back, George and I volunteered to prepare a fondue-themed surprise party for a dear friend. We bought about 10 kinds of cheese and made several sweet and savory fondues: classic Emmenthaler, cheddar and beer, Gruyere and wine, gjetost, Brie and shiitake, squash and cheddar, Spanish Manchego, bagna cauda, and of course chocolate. I guess that 30, maybe 40, people passed through the house that night, poking various dippers into every fondue pot we could get our hands on.

Our first sourdough soft pretzel attempt disappeared quickly that night, but in the years since I’ve tweaked and perfected the recipe. The dough is straightforward; where opinions vary widely is in how to achieve a crisp “shell” and soft center. German soft pretzels have long been dipped in lye, an alkaline substance so caustic that it’s used to clean clogged drains and requires gloves when handling. As much as I love traditional flavors and techniques, I wasn’t ready to introduce that element into my kitchen.

The eminent Harold McGee has recommended sodium carbonate, sometimes called soda ash, as a replacement: simply bake sodium bicarbonate, also known as the common kitchen staple baking soda, at a low temperature until most of its water and carbon dioxide evaporate. On the upside, your pretzels will have that traditional bite; on the downside, this “baked soda” will still irritate your skin. So I prefer standard baking soda in my soda water bath. It may be less traditional and less flavorful, but it balances well with the sourdough tang and doesn’t eat into my hands.
Learn to make Sourdough Pretzel Bites and Beer–Cheese Dip

Sourdough Focaccia

Sourdough isn’t traditional for focaccia, but it’s one of the few sourdough breads you can cut and eat hot. Get focaccia recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
I see all types of bread as an easy snack, but focaccia stands out among them. I’d buy it oven-hot as a street snack in Italy, and that flavor has stuck with me decades later. It’s tempting to think of focaccia as a deep-crust pizza crust or sandwich bread and load up on toppings and fillings, but it really rises best in the oven when it isn’t overloaded and shows off its heavy glug of olive oil when other flavors don’t take over.

Although sourdough isn’t traditional for focaccia, the tang pairs beautifully with silky olive oil. It also makes the dough forgiving of busy schedules; instead of having to watch to ensure it doesn’t overproof, you can slide the pan into the refrigerator and bake it at your leisure. But one of the greatest perks of sourdough focaccia is that unlike many sourdough breads, you can cut it and eat it hot. This also means it doesn’t keep as well, so I make a small loaf in a single 9- by 13-inch pan and bake often. Besides snack food, the hot bread works well with a bowl of Tomato Juice Soup or on an appetizer plate with pickles, homemade cheese, and sliced fruit.
Learn to make Savory Sourdough Focaccia and Sweet Sourdough Focaccia

Featured

3rd Annual Sourdough Giveaway

I’ll be giving away sourdough starter through January 31, 2020. Learn more at TwiceasTasty.com.
Happy 2020 from Twice as Tasty! January is Sourdough Month here on the blog. The Sourdough Giveaway Experiment has been so successful over the last 2 years that I’ve made it an annual event. I’ll be giving away sourdough starter through January 31, 2020.

There’s even more reason to get your free starter this year: later this month, I’ll be launching a Twice as Tasty Challenge for newsletter subscribers. All you have to do to participate in the challenge is to subscribe here to the monthly newsletter. Details on the challenge will be sent to you later this month. And although you don’t have to be baking with sourdough to participate, you’ll have more fun and be more involved in this food community if you do!
Keep reading to get in on the 3rd Annual Sourdough Giveaway

Winding Down Year 4

I’m kicking off 2020 with two tasty online events: a giveaway and a challenge. Learn more at TwiceasTasty.com.
Twice as Tasty will officially turn 4 next June, but the approaching end of 2019 has me reflecting on the past year and pondering the directions to take the blog and Twice as Tasty Live in the year to come. It seems that this past year was all about settling in: The blog has found its rhythm, and the models I’ve developed for workshops and other live events keep them running smoothly. (Read on, and you’ll see what I mean.) Things are running so smoothly that I’m tossing around ideas that will put more on the 2020 table. (Skip down the page to read about the year to come.)
Read more about what to expect in 2020