Pizza Making Forum

General Topics => Off-Topic Foods => Topic started by: C Jerome on May 02, 2021, 01:34:02 PM

Title: Pretzel Problems
Post by: C Jerome on May 02, 2021, 01:34:02 PM
Good Day,

I have a pizza party WFO.  Enjoy making pizzas and other foods.  Have tried pretzels a few times, including yesterday.  I am using this recipe which includes a lye dip. ( with the one change of using 50% high gluten flour. 
The issue I am having is with the pretzels sticking to the parchment paper or the Saputo tiles.  First tray I dipped then cooked on the parchment, a lot of the paper around the pretzels browned up and basically disintegrated, and the paper under them fused to the bottom of the pretzels.  Second round I said, lets try it right on the tile, I had six pretzels fused to the tiles, had to use a bench knife to scrape them up, recovered them okay. 
After dipping, I do let them drip off on a metal rack for a few seconds, while the next one is in the bath, before returning to the parchment.
I have read letting them cool some before trying to remove the paper helps, did not help yesterday, did help some the last time I made them.

Frustration level is VERY high, they looked beautiful at the start and hate all this hassle and destroying half of them peeling the paper off with the bottom, not to mention the stuck to the stone fiasco. 
Who has some pretzel experience they can share? 

Thank You

Title: Re: Pretzel Problems
Post by: Rolls on May 02, 2021, 02:52:55 PM
Your parchment paper is probably not rated for such a high baking temperature.  You can try using "bagel boards", which are pieces of untreated wood lined with burlap or similar fabric that are soaked in water.  The idea is to bake the dough piece on the board for a few minutes until the exposed side dries out enough such that when you flip it onto the hearth it won't stick.  Another idea is to place the pretzels on a roasting rack or oven-safe cooling rack that you have lightly sprayed with oil.  This will allow air to circulate around the pretzels, forming a skin and preventing any sticking.  Using oil or "pan release" sprays can discolour the wire racks, so beware.  You might also try just spraying your parchment paper very lightly with some pan release spray and bake at a lower temperature and see if that does the trick.  I like to bake my pretzels on a parchment-lined baking pan at 425F in an electric oven.  I use a lower hydration dough than yours and I also like to chill the pretzels much longer than the half hour recommended in your recipe.  These factors might also help prevent sticking.

Title: Re: Pretzel Problems
Post by: C Jerome on May 03, 2021, 10:38:07 AM

Thank you for these thoughts.  I have been reflecting on the suggestions since yesterday.  I do refrigerate the shaped pretzels for about one hour until the dough is a litter firmer and they are easier to bathe.  What percentage of hydration do you use for your pretzel dough? 
Looking around on the board I see some people use parchment under breads or even their pizzas when they bake, but they pull them out early, once the dough has dried some. 
Reviewing the photos from when I baked pretzels last fall, I used a different parchment paper, at that time I used an unbleached brown/natural color paper.  This time I used a white sheet.  I also used the flame guard. 
I like the idea of the stainless steel cooling rack under the pretzels as its reusable, looked and have yet to find one without 'feet', a little more looking required. 
Another thought is to minimize the amount of time the post bath pretzels are on the paper and not in the oven.  Perhaps cutting individual size parchment squares for the pretzels, so they can bathe, go on the square, toppings then right in the oven, instead of sitting on the parchment for several minutes post bath while the rest of the sheet goes through the process. 
Try reducing the hydration of the dough some.
Have used bagel boards in a convection oven before with bagels, though the ones I have access to are too narrow to accommodate pretzels, they can be a pain, this would be my last resort!

In summary, options to try...
Parchment paper (un-bleached) with a light spray of oil and bake under 500
Stainless steel cooling type rack with oil
Decreasing the hydration a little
bagel boards

Thank you for sharing these ideas, there are some options before I throw in the towel on the pretzels, I love to eat them so I don't want to give up!!
Title: Re: Pretzel Problems
Post by: Rolls on May 04, 2021, 06:50:02 AM

I like to mix pretzel dough at 53% hydration using an AP flour that has slightly more than 13% protein content.  Using a stiffer dough and chilling the shaped pretzels uncovered in the fridge for at least a couple of hours will give a smooth, shiny appearance to the baked pretzel but should also help with the sticking issue.  As mentioned before, the quality of the parchment paper makes a difference, especially if you're baking at higher temperatures. I use a commercial grade parchment paper.

One thing I forgot to mention in my previous post is that you could also bake the pretzels on a simple pizza screen which will also provide enough of an air gap between the pretzel and the hearth in order to prevent sticking. 

Title: Re: Pretzel Problems
Post by: C Jerome on May 04, 2021, 10:00:14 AM
Yes, I am using a 'quality' parchment purchased from the local commercial restaurant supply store.  Last fall I had used full sheet natural papers cut in half, this weekend I used bleached half sheet sized sheets, will switch back to the natural.  For the floor, I most recently used 50/50 APF and high gluten.  Both are high quality organic flours, had the high gluten from bagel making and realized that should add more 'chew' to the pretzels. 
I think the pizza screens are usually aluminum, and the lye does not play nicely from what I have read, so will keep an eye out for stainless steel.  Will give the lower hydration a try.