Pletzels

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slice of pletzel
Pieces of pletzels are best while hot.

Nope, not misspelled. We are indeed making pletzels today. What, you’ve never heard of pletzels? Well, we hadn’t heard about them either, until we borrowed Modern Jewish Cooking, by Leah Koenig, from the public library. Now, we aren’t Jewish, but, that doesn’t matter much, because this book has a lot of great-sounding recipes, including pletzels, that can be enjoyed by anyone. Even if they’re Gentiles. So, what are pletzels, anyway?

Think flatbread, something like focaccia and topped with caramelized onions and poppy seeds. Apparently, these flatbreads were quite popular at one time, but they’ve fallen out of favor. Probably because Jewish bakeries have disappeared over the years as the owners age and retire. Leaving all of us poorer in terms of great food. Well, scratchers out there, let’s not let it happen; let’s make up a pletzel.

Pletzels

Yield: One 16 inch pletzel

Pletzels

Ingredients

  • 1 pound bread dough (about 1/3 of our Easy Wheat Bread)
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1-2 Tbs olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 Tbs poppy seeds

Abbreviated Instructions

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place a baking stone in the oven to heat. If you don't have a baking stone, lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet.

If using a baking stone, spread dough on piece of parchment so it will fit your baking stone; otherwise, spread out dough in rimmed baking sheet. Dough should be about 1/2 inch thick at the most. Cover with a clean, dampened, dish towel.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and fry, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. Add salt and continue cooking, stirring often, until onions are caramelized, about 5 minutes more. Remove from heat.

Using a fork, pierce dough every 2 inches.

Brush egg on bread dough and spread onions in a even layer on top. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and poppy seeds.

Bake, on stone, if using, until dough is a golden brown.

http://scratchinit.halversen.com/2015/08/pletzels/

Ingredient discussion:

pletzel ingredients
Not many ingredients go into making a pletzel, but they make a perfect combination.

You can use any bread dough that you like for this recipe; if you don’t want to make your own, you could probably buy one of those bags of fresh dough that are sold for making pizzas. If you’re making dough, we suggest using our Easy Wheat Bread recipe. It’s a very good bread, plus, it doesn’t really require much kneading.

Procedure in detail:

Preheat oven to 425°F. If you have a baking stone, place it in the oven to heat. Otherwise, you’ll have to make this on a rimmed baking sheet. No problem, just lightly oil a baking sheet.

shaping bread dough
Our baking stone is round, so our pletzel will look like a pizza.

Shape dough. If you’re using a baking stone, place the dough on a piece of baking parchment and shape to match your stone. Try to get the dough under 1/2 inch thick. If you’re using a baking sheet, press the dough into that, taking care to press it into the corners. If the dough springs back, let it sit for 15 minutes to relax, then try again. Once in place, cover with a clean, damp, dish towel to allow the dough to rise and prevent it from drying out.

Cook onions. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and fry, stirring often, until starting to brown, about 15 minutes, or so. Don’t try to rush cooking the onions, since the slower they cook, the sweeter they’ll be.

cooking onions
Once you add the salt, the onions will brown faster, so watch them like a hawk.

Add salt. Once the onions are starting to brown, add the salt and continue cooking, stirring very often. The salt will help draw out moisture and the onions will cook faster, so keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Instead, try to cook them until they’re golden brown. Once browned, remove from heat.

docking dough
Docking the dough will help prevent huge bubbles from forming during baking, but don’t be surprised if you still get some.

Dock dough. Use a fork to pierce the dough all over. This “docking” will help to keep the dough from making huge bubbles while it bakes. We pierce the dough about every 2 inches, more or less. If you wish, you can try making patterns, although no one will see it.

applying egg wash
We almost skipped the egg wash, but are really glad we didn’t. It makes a huge difference.

Brush with egg. In a small bowl, quickly whisk the egg to break it up, then brush it all over the dough. At first, we weren’t going to bother, but then we said, why not? It’s worth it. The poppy seeds will stick, and the outside of the bread gets crisper, so do it. You’ll have egg left over, so think about making scrambled eggs, or do what we normally do, and make pasta dough.

making a pletzel
Just caramelized onions, poppy seeds, and pepper. That’s it.

Top. Spread the onions in an even layer, them sprinkle poppy seeds all over the top, making sure to get the seeds up to the edges. Sorry, but those poppy seeds will pop around and get all over your counter, but that’s one of the prices we pay for scratchin’ out great food.

Bake. Slide into the oven and bake until the bread is golden brown, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool as long as you can wait before testing.

This was so good, it was unbelievable. We know, it’s just onion, salt, pepper, and poppy seeds on a bread, but it’s also so much more. We cannot figure out why or how a flatbread this tasty could ever go out of style or be dropped by a bakery. Once you have a bite of pletzel, you’ll just want more, and more, and more. We ate our entire pletzel the day we made it, and we can hardly wait until we bake bread again so we can make more.

Worth the trouble?

4 Replies to “Pletzels”

  1. I’m not Jewish either, but I would have thought that pletzels would use unleavened dough, not that they wouldn’t be, umm… plerfect either way. I wonder how much the texture might change.

    1. I think that the restriction to unleavened dough is only for Passover; the rest of the year bread from leavened dough is fine. Think of the challah for Shabbat dinners.

  2. Shawn got it right. Unleavened dough? Meh. Ya eat it when ya gotta eat it.

    Pletzels are wonderful – a cousin to the bialy, which uses the same dough. Just a nice big slab of oniony, poppyseedy goodness, and an ideal Butter Conveyance Device.

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