California Raisin Walnut Pretzel

Source: Chef Gary Gottenbusch and California Raisin Board
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Main Ingredient: Bread
Menu Part: Appetizer
Cuisine Type: American
Serves: 33

The pretzel is the oldest snack food in history. The first record is from 510 A.D. by the Romans. Third generation baker Gary Gottenbusch of Cincinnati, OH took home the Artisan Grand Prize in the 4th Annual America's Best Raisin Bread Contest. His old family recipe using 100% butter, toasted walnuts and California raisins, stole the hearts and taste buds of the judging panel.

Ingredients

Sponge Starter (Begin 1 hour ahead)
1Lb. water                                                                      
1Lb. white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 oz. fresh yeast

Dough
All of the sponge starter (above)
4 Lb. white whole wheat flour
1 Lb., 12 oz. water
6 1/2 oz. salted butter
1 1/2 oz. granulated sugar (plus extra for topping)
1 1/2 oz. sea salt
1 Lb., 4 oz. California raisins
1 Lb., 4 oz. California golden raisins
1 Lb. small walnut pieces

Baking soda solution
1 quart of water
4 oz. of baking soda

Steps

Making the Sponge:

  1. Mix all of the sponge ingredients together for three minutes on second gear at 82°F.
  2. Coverand rest for an hour at 85°F.

To Make The Dough:

  1. Put sponge back into the mixer and add the whole wheat flour, water, butter, sugar, and sea salt. Mix for two minutes in first gear to incorporate the ingredients, and then switch to third gear for 12 minutes.
  2. Add the raisins and walnut pieces to the dough, giving it a quick 30 second mix in second gear.
  3. Divide the dough into 33-6oz. balls and let rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Prepare baking soda solution. (Caustic soda solution works as well.)
  5. Roll each dough ball into a 2ft. rope with tapered ends, and twist into a pretzel shape.
  6. Once all of the dough is shaped, dip each pretzel into a baking soda solution and top with more sugar.
  7. Proof the pretzels in a 90°F oven for one hour.
  8. Then, bake at 350°F for 18 minutes.  Serve.