Pretzel Pastries

The combination of two completely different doughs twisted into an interesting pretzel shape brings a smile of pleasant surprise to everyone who bites into one of these pastries; the flaky, unsweetened puff pastry and sweet, crumbly short dough complement each other perfectly. I teach this recipe in a class on basic doughs, and I have yet to come across a student who had either heard of or tasted these simple pastries previously.

Perhaps instead of pastries I should call these dressed-up cookies, as they really straddle the fence between the two. Pretzel Pastries can be made up very quickly anytime you have puff pastry and short dough handy; they are a good way to utilize scraps of either. The step that seems to present problems more times than not is the baking. Because short dough will normally bake faster than puff pastry, it is important to heed the instruction to bake double-panned and at the specified temperature, or the short dough portion will become overbaked.

Read more

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (455 g) Puff Pastry
  • 1 pound (455 g) Short Dough
  • Egg wash
  • Crystal sugar
  • Sliced almonds, crushed
  • Simple syrup

Method

  1. Roll the puff pastry into a rectangle measuring 9 x 14 inches (22.5 x 35 cm), using the smallest possible amount of flour to prevent the dough from sticking. The dough should be about ⅛ inch (3 mm) thick. Place the dough on a sheet of cardboard or on an inverted sheet pan.
  2. Roll the short dough to the same size as the puff pastry, again using as little flour as possible to prevent the dough from sticking. It will be slightly thicker.
  3. Brush egg wash on the puff pastry. Carefully, so you do not alter the shape, roll up the short dough on a dowel and unroll it on top of the puff pastry. Press the pieces together by rolling the dowel over them. Refrigerate until firm.
  4. Mix equal amounts of crystal sugar and crushed almonds (by volume). Spread the mixture on a sheet pan and reserve.
  5. With a dowel or ruler as a guide, use a sharp knife or pastry wheel to cut the sheet lengthwise into ¼-inch (6-mm) strips.
  6. Twist each strip into a corkscrew by rolling the ends in opposite directions against the table (Figure 12-15), then form the corkscrew into a pretzel shape (Figure 12-16). Do not use any flour while forming the pretzels or the sugar-nut topping will not stick. Set the pretzel on the sugar and almond mixture and press gently to make sure the mixture adheres. Continue forming pretzels in the same way.

  7. When the pan of sugar mixture is full, transfer the pretzels, sugar-side up, to a sheet pan lined with baking paper or a Silpat. Repeat with the remaining strips. If the strips get soft or sticky and hard to work with, refrigerate for a short time.
  8. Bake the pastries, double-panned, at 375°F (190°C) for 15 minutes or until golden brown. As soon as you remove the pretzels from the oven, brush simple syrup lightly over the tops.

Figure 12-15 (left) Twisting the layered strip of puff pastry and short dough into a corkscrew shape by rolling it against the table, moving the hands in opposite directions
Figure 12-16 (right) Forming the twisted strip into a pretzel shape