How about a little change of pace. A recent episode of Throwdown on the Food Network pitted Bobby Flay against the pretzel king of Philadelphia. I forget who won, but that part doesn’t matter. Seeing tray after tray of hot, soft pretzels was all the motivation Elisabeth and I needed, the next morning we were in the kitchen whipping up a batch of doughy goodness. She used to bake them with her mom but it was a foreign affair to me, so I searched for a recipe and chose one from Baking Bites that incorporated whole wheat flour. Finally a way to use up my oversized bag of whole wheat pastry flour!
Soft pretzels are a big part of life growing up in New York. We’d get them all the time at baseball games, carnivals and on every corner in NYC. Anyone else have SuperPretzels as a kid? A few minutes in the microwave and bam! you had a hot pretzel in no time. You can do the same with these pretzels. Simply freeze them after baking and microwave or bake in the oven to bring them back to life.
The girlfriend was quite impressed that I had all the ingredients on hand, although I surprised myself too given how seldom I bake. Several times I was tempted to add peanut butter to the batter, but being that it was my first attempt at pretzels (and whole wheat ones at that) I didn’t want to chance it. However, these pretzels turned out divine! Be sure to whip up a batch of Cinnamon Currant Peanut Butter to spread on top, you won’t be sorry!
6 cups warm water, divided
4 cups whole wheat pastry flour, divided
2T vital wheat gluten
1T active dry yeast
1/4 cup honey
2 1/2t salt
3T baking soda
coarse salt or cinnamon and sugar, for topping
1. Combine 2 cups warm water, 2 cups flour, vital wheat gluten, yeast and sugar in a large bowl. Mix well, cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 45 minutes.
2. Stir in the honey, salt and 1 1/2 cups flour and mix well. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and work in the remaining dough, 2 spoonfuls at a time, until the dough comes together and is elastic but not sticky: I used about another 1/2 cup flour. Lightly grease the large bowl and place the dough back in. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface again and divide into four equal chunks. Work with one chunk at a time (place the other chunks back in the bowl and covered) and divide into 3 pieces. Roll each piece to about 24-30 inches in length, cross the ends and place down in the middle, forming a pretzel shape.
4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Place about 4 cups of warm water in a medium-sized pot and stir in 3T baking soda. Dip each formed pretzel into the baking soda and water solution and place on the tray, leaving an inch of space on each side of the pretzel. Sprinkle pretzels with salt or cinnamon and sugar (2 parts sugar to 1 part cinnamon) and bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Should make 12 good-sized pretzels.
Freezing Tip – Wrap each pretzel in tinfoil and place them in a large sealed bag in the freezer. To resurrect, defrost the pretzel in a smaller sealed bag at room temperature (~2 hours or overnight). Then, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and bake it in the foil wrapping for 10-12 minutes. For a quicker pretzel, take a frozen pretzel, remove the foil and microwave on high for exactly 1 minute.
Thanks to Reeni from Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice for awarding me with the following award. It’s actually the second time I’ve received it, the first time being when I posted the Chocolate Filled Peanut Butter Scones. But thanks again Reeni!