Poaching dough moistens the starch on the crust, giving the crust a unique chewiness and an all-over golden brown color.
Serves: 8Hands-on: 35 minutesTotal: 3 hours 25 minutesDifficulty: Medium
- 1 cup warm water (110°F)
- 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 3⁄4 tsp. active dry yeast (1 package)
- 1⁄4 cup whole milk
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 2 1⁄8 tsp. table salt, divided
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1⁄2 cup baking soda
- 1⁄4 cup cornmeal
- 1 large egg
- 3 Tbsp. pretzel salt
- In a large bowl, combine warn water, brown sugar, and yeast. Stir to dissolve and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
- Add milk, butter, 2 teaspoons table salt, and enough bread flour to create a firm dough. Add flour only to reduce stickiness. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead 8 to 10 minutes. Return to bowl, dust the top with flour, and cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Punch risen dough, knead briefly, then cover and rise again until doubled, about 1 hour.
- In a large saucepan, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. At the boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and add baking soda. Coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle with cornmeal. Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Turn risen dough onto a floured surface, divide into 3 equal portions, and form a 3-strand braid. Drop braid gently into simmering baking soda bath for about 30 seconds, turning to coat all sides. Carefully remove loaf with 2 slotted spoons or a spider, shake off excess liquid, and place on prepared pan.
- Whisk egg with a tablespoon of water and remaining 1⁄8 teaspoon table salt. Brush the top of the risen loaf. Sprinkle with pretzel salt and bake until golden brown and hollow sounding, about 30 to 40 minutes. Cool completely on a rack.