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Did you know that recently the Singapore pandan cake has made headlines, after being named one of the world’s 17 best cakes by the travel website of US news outlet CNN? They have described the cake as essentially a chiffon cake infused with green-coloured juice from the pandanus palm.
Having this Collective Bias opportunity, I decided to make a Pandan Pretzel to celebrate World Pretzel Day which is today!
As many might know, a pretzel is a type of baked bread product made from dough most commonly shaped into a knot. The traditional pretzel shape is a distinctive symmetrical looped form, with the ends of a long strip of dough intertwined and then twisted back into itself in a certain way.
Anyway, while I was in London last weekend, I popped into the one of the Chinese supermarkets in Chinatown to buy some fresh pandan leaves. They can be found in the fridge section along with other vegetables.
This is my first time using fresh leaves so I decided to call my mum for advice. Long story short, I decided to use my Judge mini chopper to chop it. First, cut the 10 leaves into 1 inch long pieces and place them into the chopper. Add 50 ml of water. This is to extract the juice. Chop until the leaves are very fine. Drain it with a muslin cloth or strainer. Leave the juice to separate on its own. Discard the water (or save it for red/green bean soup) and use the green extract. I did this but the pretzel didn’t turn out as fragrant as I would like and the colour is rather dull too. So I decided to abandon this recipe!
Then I decided to use pandan paste which I also bought from the Chinese supermarket. This can be found along with other baking products. You can also get the pandan flavour extract, along with other extracts such as coconut, orange etc. I found that pandan extract does not work well on this recipe as the flavour is not as strong as the paste.
After many trial and errors, I found the following recipe worked best. I tried those other recipes that required boiling the dough with bicarbonate of soda but I found it too troublesome and my dough didn’t look very nice. I didn’t have the right equipment to scoop out the pre-cooked dough and it would often break while boiling it.
I have bought a tin of Active Dry yeast from Waitrose, especially for this recipe and the rest of the ingredients can be found in most supermarkets’ bakery sections.
- 1 tablespoon of Active Dry Yeast
- 250ml of warm water
- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons of white sugar
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 2 teaspoons of pandan paste
- 440g of strong plain flour
- egg for brushing
- Add warm water (40°C) and yeast into the bowl and stir.
- Add sugar into the yeast and wait for it to go foamy. I waited for 10 minutes. Then add pandan paste.
- Add flour and salt. Mix it well and knead until smooth.
- Remove the dough from your bowl and divide into 8-10 portions.
- Then roll and twist it into its shape. I find that placing the dough on kitchen foil trays work better than on greaseproof paper. Greaseproof paper tends to stick to the base of the pretzels, otherwise you can brush oil on the greaseproof paper before placing your dough to avoid sticking. Cover with cling film and wait for an hour to rise.
- Beat the egg (if it is too thick, add a bit of water for ease of brushing) or butter and brush it on the pretzels. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Alternative add sugar and cinnamon. Bake pretzels until golden brown for about 15 minutes at 180°C. Adjust the temperature according to your own oven.
These pandan pretzels are soft on the inside and chewy on the outside. The green colour is quite vibrant and I think it makes it look very attractive. I love the pandan flavour. It is quite leafy and smells fragrant. I was able to make 9 pretzels and they were gone in seconds!