Friday, May 25, 2012

Whole wheat soft pretzels

I saw a version of this recipe for pretzels on the Our Best Bites blog--they post great recipes that are manageable and that my kids will actually eat.  This one only took a few ingredients and looked pretty easy to do, so Ben and I made them on a Saturday morning.

I replaced the white flour with white whole wheat flour...I like to trick my family that way.  If I use whole wheat flour, the color is a tip-off and sometimes they reject the idea on sight.  This kind looks like regular nothing-good-for-you white flour, which increases the likelihood that they will actually try the food.  It worked, they totally fell for it and didn't even notice.

The OBB post suggested making them into bite sized pieces rather than the traditional pretzel shape and trying them rolled in a cinnamon sugar mixture rather than salt.  We made half of our pretzel bites with salt and half with the cinnamon sugar; since it was our first shot and we didn't know what to expect.

Simply put, they were amazing--they really do taste like the giant soft pretzels you see at concession stands.  The cinnamon sugar bites were the favorite and disappeared quickly; the entire family loved both varieties and the entire batch was gone by the end of the day.  We might have to give the traditional soft pretzel shape a try (or a circle, for that matter...just a full size pretzel)--it might limit me to one or two.  It's so easy to justify 20 when they are little like this!

A note about the process: it looks very involved and maybe not worth the effort, even though the list of ingredients is short.  You do need some time for the dough to rise, but the whole boiling prep looks much more intimidating than it is...I promise.

Whole Wheat Soft Pretzels (adapted from Our Best Bites)

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees F)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast (I used rapid rise yeast)
  • 4 cups of white whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter, melted
  • Vegetable oil spray for dough prep and baking process
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • additional melted butter, salt, and cinnamon sugar mixture
  • a little bit of powdered sugar, milk and vanilla for icing
Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter. Use the dough hook attachment on the mixer at low speed until well combined. Increase the speed slightly and knead until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl (this will take several minutes).  If the dough is too sticky, more flour can be added a little bit at a time until you get the right consistency. Move the dough to a container that has been lightly sprayed with vegetable oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 450 F and prep cookie sheets lined with parchment paper sprayed lightly with vegetable oil.

Roll out the dough in manageable pieces, then shape your pretzels or cut them into bites.

Boil 10 cups of water and the baking soda in a large pot.  Put the pretzels in for a 30 second stint (this takes a while because they can't all be crammed in at once), then get them out by using a slatted spoon or spatula to allow the water to drain out.  Put them on the cookie sheets and brush them with the egg wash.  Add salt if desired.  (If you want to make the cinnamon sugar pretzels, leave them unsalted.  After baking, brush them with a little bit of melted butter and sprinkle with the sweet stuff.)

Bake until the pretzels reach the desired color - start checking them at 12 minutes.

Drizzle the cinnamon sugar bagels with a simple icing made of powdered sugar mixed with milk (I always start with half a cup of powdered sugar and a tablespoon of milk, then add more milk a little bit at a time until I get the consistency I want).

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