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Aløft

There's nothing new about Nordic interiors - blond timbers, concrete surfaces, warm, mid-century charm without the twee - and thank heavens for that. It's a style that augments the beauty of everything around it, in this case, gorgeous Hobart harbour, which makes up one whole wall. What is new here, however, is the food - by veterans of Garagistes, which once dazzled diners down the road, Vue de Monde in Melbourne and Gordon Ramsay worldwide. There's a strong Asian bent, but with Tasmanian ingredients. In fact, the kitchen's love of the local verges on obsessive - coconut milk in an aromatic fish curry is replaced with Tasmanian-grown fig leaf simmered in cream to mimic the flavour. Other standouts include a gutsy red-braised lamb with gai lan and chewy cassia spaetzle, pigs' ears zingy with Sichuan pepper and a fresh, springy berry dessert. While the food is sourced locally, the generous wine list spans the planet. 

Secret Tuscany

A far cry from Tuscany’s familiar gently rolling hills, Monte Argentario’s appealing mix of mountain, ocean, island and lagoon makes it one of Italy’s hidden treasures, writes Emiko Davies.

Farro recipes

Farro can be used in almost any dish, from a robust salad to accompany hearty beer-glazed beef short ribs to a new take on risotto with mushrooms, leek and parmesan. Here are 14 ways with this versatile grain.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

Moon Park to open Paper Bird in Potts Point

No, it’s not a pop-up. The team behind Sydney’s Moon Park is back with an all-day east-Asian eatery.

Brae

Prepare to enter a picture of the countryside framed by note-perfect Australiana but painted in bold, elegant and unsentimental strokes. Over 10 or more courses, Dan Hunter celebrates his region with dishes that are formally daring (Crunchy prawn heads! Creamy oyster soft-serve! Sea urchin and chicory bread pudding!), yet rich in flavour and substance. The menu could benefit from an edit, but the plates are tightly composed - and what could you cut? Certainly not the limpid broth bathing fronds of abalone and calamari, nor the clever arrangement of lobster played off against charred waxy fingerlings under a swatch of milk skin. The adventure is significantly the richer for the cool gloss of the dining room, some of the most engaging service in the nation and wine pairings that roam with an easy-going confidence. Maturing and relaxing without surrendering a drop of its ambition, Brae is more compelling than ever.

Grilled apricot salad with jamon and Manchego

Here we've scorched apricots on the grill and served them with torn jamon, shaved Manchego and peppery rocket leaves. Think of it as a twist on the good old melon-prosciutto routine. The mixture would also be great served on charred sourdough.

Discovering Macedonia

Like its oft-disputed name, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia defies simple definition but its rich diversity extends from the dinner table to the welcoming locals, writes Richard Cooke.

Pretzels


You'll need

10 gm (1½ sachets) dried yeast 2 tsp caster sugar 635 gm (4¼ cups) bread flour 40 gm softened butter 50 gm (¼ cup) bicarbonate of soda 1 egg yolk, for brushing For scattering: sea salt flakes

Method

  • 01
  • Combine yeast, sugar, 2 tsp fine sea salt and 60ml warm water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Cover and set aside in a warm place until starting to foam (5-7 minutes). Add flour and 250ml warm water and knead until smooth (5-6 minutes). Add butter a little at a time, mixing continuously until incorporated and dough is very smooth (3-4 minutes). Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and set aside to rest in a warm place until doubled in size (1-1½ hours).
  • 02
  • Knock back dough and divide into 6 even pieces. Roll each piece on a work surface to 45cm long so it tapers at the ends and is thicker in the middle (wet hands slightly to assist with rolling). Bring ends inwards and cross over once, then twist once more, then fold back and press ends onto the thicker side to create the pretzel shape. Place on a tray lined with baking paper.
  • 03
  • Preheat oven to 200C. Bring 5 litres water to the simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add bicarbonate of soda, stir to combine, then carefully add pretzels one at a time and blanch, turning once, until floating and slightly puffed (30 seconds). Remove with a slotted spoon and place on trays lined with baking paper. Brush with egg yolk, scatter with salt flakes and bake, swapping trays halfway through cooking, until golden brown (15-20 minutes). Serve warm.

There are many varieties of twisted pretzels found across the globe, but it's Germany's Laugenbrezel, the hand-span-sized yeast-risen soft bread with a salt-crystal glaze that tops our list.

We've turned toCulinaria Gemanyfor recounting the history of the pretzel (known as a brezel in German, or brezen in Bavarian). According to the book, it dates back to the Roman conquerors of ancient Germania who introduced fine-wheat flour to the region from Egypt.

Originally the Romans shaped the bread into a ring; the twisted version is believed to have come about in the 12th century. It was shortly after this time that the pretzel also came to be an emblem for bakers - it forms part of the German bakers' guild logo that's still used today.

Other pretzel-lovers credit Christian monks with the invention of the bread's unique shape, suggesting the three inter­locking segments represent the concept of the holy trinity. Certainly pretzels were traditionally a treat reserved for religious feast days and festivals: there are different recipes, for example, for New Year pretzels (Neujahrsbrezel) and Palm Sunday pretzels (Palmbrezel).

The Laugenbrezel gets its brown glazed crust from being blanched in a salty solution before it's baked. According to Culinaria, this typically Bavarian salt glaze originated in 1839 when baker Anton Pfannenbrenner mistakenly brushed the dough with a lye solution meant for cleaning. Legend has it that he baked them anyway, creating a chemical reaction which resulted in the golden glazed, salty pretzel we know today.

For this recipe, we've opted for a solution made using bicarbonate of soda instead of lye and added a good pinch of salt to the dough to give the bread its signature look and taste.

A scattering of coarse salt flakes and some thirst-quenching Bavarian lager are the only accompaniments required. It's the kind of snack that would find a very warm reception at any of the impending football finals parties (that is, if you need another excuse to get baking).


At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

Featured in

Sep 2011

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