|Pizza meets pretzel. (photos by Renee Boeckman)|
The pretzel bread trend is running rampant, and I personally love it! It seems like no matter where I go nowadays, from chains such as Wendy’s, Sonic, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Chili’s to local restaurants looking to catch the pretzel wave, everyone is trying to put a new “twist” on an old favorite.
So, being that we’re in the pizza industry, I contacted the man who I felt could bring pretzels to pizza, Tom “The Dough Doctor” Lehmann. I asked if he’d be willing to humor me a little with a pretzel crust for pizza. To my surprise and delight, he said that he and Jeff Zeak had already been experimenting with pretzel pizza crusts over at the American Institute of Baking. It was only a matter of days before he sent me the following instructions and photos that outline how to make your very own pretzel pizza crust!
If you try this, please let me know and send photos to Liz@PMQ.com. We would love to share them in the magazine. Plus, if you’re close enough, I’d like to come over and try the pizza, preferably with a side of cheese sauce for dipping.
[[Please Note: The below is a shortened version of the full article that will appear in a future issue of PMQ Pizza Magazine. Subscribe for FREE here.]]
We also tried the sodium hydroxide at 6% solution using cold water and applied the solution cold. This also gave a very acceptable crust color and flavor. I must caution you that both of these solutions are highly caustic and extreme care must be exercised in making the solutions and applying them onto the crust. At the very least, a respiration mask, eye protection (goggles) and plastic gloves should be worn when making or handling these solutions.
As a safer alternative to the sodium hydroxide, we also used a 15% solution of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and applied it to the dough both hot (190F/88C) and cold (room temperature/ambient). These solutions are much safer to work with and handle, but we found that the color and flavor were not quite as good as that from the sodium hydroxide solutions. The color with the baking soda was more dark brown than mahogany in color, and the flavor, while good, was not as readily identified as that of a pretzel. We did not see any significant advantage to using this soda solution hot over the cold preparation, so we would recommend using it cold/ambient for safer handling. We thought that this might be a good approach to use if the crust were to be brushed with melted, clarified butter immediately after baking for something more of a gourmet pretzel presentation.