How to Cook Bread
Peter Cassidy

The distinctive shape of a pretzel is said to represent hands in prayer. Pretzels are traditionally finished with salt flakes, but a sprinkling of seeds or nuts could be applied instead. Flavourings such as caraway or onion seeds can be added to the dough as well, if you like. Dipping the pretzel in the alkali solution before baking causes the crust to take on its deep brown colour. The pretzels can also be given an egg glaze before sprinkling with salt and baking, for a shiny finish.


Quantity Ingredient
310g strong white flour, plus extra to dust
25g caster sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons fast-action dried yeast
1/2 tablespoon light olive oil, plus extra to grease
180ml tepid water
semolina, to sprinkle
50g bicarbonate of soda
1 litre boiling water
25g salt flakes or large crystals


  1. Mix the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl, then sprinkle in the yeast and stir thoroughly. Add the oil and three quarters of the tepid water and mix until the dough is soft but not sticky, adding more water if you need to.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for 8–10 minutes until smooth and elastic. (Or you can knead the dough in a mixer fitted with a dough hook for 4–5 minutes.)
  3. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with lightly oiled cling film and leave to rise until doubled in size, 1–2 hours.
  4. Heat the oven to 220°C and sprinkle a baking sheet with semolina. Put the bicarbonate of soda in a jug, pour on the boiling water and stir. Place a clean, dry tea towel next to the jug.
  5. Turn out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 6 even pieces. Cover all but one with lightly oiled cling film, and roll one piece into a rope, 55–60cm long. You may need to start rolling one rope, then, as it becomes elastic and springs back, put it aside and start on another, then come back to the first, which will have relaxed a little and will be easier to roll. Repeat with all the pieces of dough, then twist each into a pretzel shape.
  6. Once they have all been shaped, dip each pretzel into the hot water and bicarbonate of soda solution, then remove with an oiled slotted spoon or spider strainer to the tea towel to drain.
  7. Transfer to the baking sheet, sprinkle with the salt flakes and bake in the oven for 12–15 minutes until dark golden. Cool on a wire rack.


  • To make cinnamon and raisin pretzels, flavour the dough with ground cinnamon to taste, adding it to the flour with the salt and sugar. Incorporate a handful of raisins into the dough as you knead it. After baking and cooling, dust the pretzels with icing sugar or drizzle with glacé icing for a decorative finish.
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