August 22, 2008

Soft Pretzels (with a touch of whole wheat flour)

Update: Jennie from A Vegan & a Dog Named Keiko made these and used soymilk in place of the egg yolk and they worked for her. Now we have a vegan version of the recipe, thanks Jennie!

Today in an effort to give the neighbor kids and Alex something new to do I made some pretzel dough. The little girl from next door and Alex like to play with clay together and Alex loves to do anything in the kitchen. This turned out to be a good idea but I managed to make a couple of mistakes. The first was to tell the girl from next door that we were going to make pretzels a good 30 minutes before the dough was done rising. "Alex's mom, is it pretzel time yet?" became her mantra, repeated through the screen door at least every minute. Mistake number two, I gave them sidewalk chalk to keep the nagging down. They were already wet from the sprinklers and wet + chalk = indelible chalk paste. I had to hose and scrub them down when the dough was finally ready and one pretzel still had a tinge of blue before it was boiled. They had a good time and I was feeling pretty proud of myself when my husband John walks in and sees the pretzels. This was my final mistake, halving the recipe. After some puppy dog eyes and blatant flattery about how good they were, I made a second batch so John could have some.

Soft pretzels and mini pretzel rolls cooling

This was an adaptation of Alton Brown's Good Eats Soft Pretzel recipe. I wanted to add some whole wheat flour and then discovered I was all out of all-purpose so I made up the rest with bread flour. They were chewy with a authentic pretzel taste and the dough was easy to work with. I think the bread flour is unnecessary but I loved the touch of whole wheat. I'd like to try the same dough with cinnamon sugar instead of salt and honey instead of sugar. I'm not sure if I'd boil those or not? Alex loves cinnamon and I think a slight honey flavor would go well with the whole wheat flour. The kids gobbled these up and Abbie even had to check them out (see her in the last shot).

Soft Pretzels
Makes 6 medium pretzels
3/4 c warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
8 oz (~1 3/4 cups) bread flour (or all-purpose)
3 oz (~3/4 cup) whole wheat flour
1 oz (2 tablespoons)Earth Balance Margarine, melted
Other supplies needed:
Neutral vegetable oil
10 cups of water
2/3 cup baking soda
kosher or pretzel salt
1 egg yolk (or substitute soy milk)

-Proof the yeast with the water and sugar for five minutes (or skip it, I rarely proof yeast)
-Add the flour, salt and margarine to the yeast, water and sugar. Mix in a stand mixer with a dough hook until the dough is smooth and elastic.
-Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap. Allow to rise until doubled 50-55 minutes.
-Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Bring the 10 cups of water and baking soda to a boil in a large pot. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
-Punch down the dough divide into six equal pieces. Oil your hands and a clean surface and roll the dough out into a rope ~16 inches long. Make a U with the rope and then cross the two ends over each other. Or make any shape. We made circles and small rolls and little baguettes and they all were good.
-One at a time gently place the pretzels in the boiling baking soda water for 30 seconds. Remove and place on the lined baking sheet.
-Add a teaspoon of water to the egg yolk and beat it to incorporate the water. Brush the yolk onto the pretzels and sprinkle on a little kosher or pretzel salt.
-Bake in the oven for 12-14 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Abbie the kitten gets her feet in the shot. Then she checks to see if it's edible.

Other pretzel stuff:
I didn't see this recipe until after I made my second batch!! Next time I really want to try the awesomely named Hell Boy Pretzels!

I added this to Yeastspotting. I get Susan's Wild Yeast email feed and I love the end of the week roundup with a ton of new bread ideas.


chou said...

Oh, the amusement when children discover that time is their enemy. BTW, great picture of Abbie the kitten.

VeggieGirl said...

Good thinking, making that second batch - those pretzels look divine!!

Aww, Abbie is precious!! :0)

Reeni said...

They came out wonderful-kitty thinks so too!

Adam said...

You gotta watch out for those puppy eyes... those things are killers :)

Nice pretzels... I like the whole wheat and the nice chunks of salt

Jennie said...

I can't wait to try these! Abbie is adorable!

Dawn said...

You left a comment on my foodie blog about reuben eggrolls. If you have that recipe, oh you must share with me sweet child. I must make that.
Good looking pretzels BTW. I have never made pretzels, am a little intimidated by them. Weird I know.

The Food Hunter said...

those pretzels look delicious. I'm going to try making them. thanks

Maggie said...

chou: I've forgotten since Alex is grown out of that stage. I should have know better.

VeggieGirl: Thanks! It hard to resist the "please make more they're SOO good" strategy he has.

Reeni: Thanks! She's just hoping it's more lamb.

Adam: Thanks! The whole wheat was really good in them.

Jennie: Thanks! Let me know if you try them.

Dawn: The pretzels are easier and faster to make than you think.

I don't have a recipe for the reuben egg rolls. I had them at the Bavarian Inn in Frankenmuth, MI; which is just about the cheeziest place on earth. They seemed really simple: egg roll wrappers filled with the same ingredients as your calzone (cheese, sauerkraut, corned beef) except the thousand island was served on the side to dip into. They were ridiculous, greasy bar food but sooo good!

The Food Hunter: Thanks! Let me know how they work out for you.

Jules said...

These look great!

I made pretzels earlier this week using this recipe and they began to fall apart when I boiled them.

Mom said...

I've got to try these - I made some non whole pretzels earlier this summer. I have the recipe for the ones they make at the Dexter Bakery (a local specialty in the Ann Arbor environs) which called for the traditionaly lye bath instead of the baking soda. I think my beloved Alton wimped out by not actually using lye. Also, I bought some bees wax to wax the cookie sheet - that's what my recipe said to do, instead of parchment paper.

Susan/Wild Yeast said...

These look fantastic and what fun for kids! Your kitten is adorable and reminds me of my bread-loving cat. Thanks for sending to YeastSpotting!

Maggie said...

Jules: I did have one that unraveled while I was boiling. I saw on another site a suggestion to prevent that. You take two slotted spatulas and sandwich the formed pretzel between them before boiling. Then you hold the spatulas together while it boils letting the pretzel float just a little in between. My one that unraveled I just flopped back into shape and it baked up fine.

Mom: My father and I have been talking about mail ordering some food-grade lye but I couldn't wait and wanted to try this recipe. I think poor Alton is subject to Food Network's legal department's whims.

Susan/Wild Yeast: Abbie didn't want to eat any pretzel but the next day she stole a piece of cooked sweet potato skin and gobbled it down. She's a garbage cat. The foster home said she came from a Detroit humane society.

Alejandra said...

This post is adorable! I don't have children, but I think that advice also goes for impatient boyfriends. What a wonderful idea--I will definitely try!

Jen (Modern Beet) said...

yum! I bet they'd be great with some sesame or poppy seeds on top (but perhaps less kid-friendly...)

Alexa said...

Cute story about the neighbor's daughter... It's like being on a road trip. Gets to you a bit doesn't it?
The pretzels look great and what a fun project to do with kids.

trisha said...

I'm really excited to try this recipe with my kids, especially with whole wheat flour. Love the way they turned out so puffy! And I will duly heed your advice not to let them in on it until the dough is good and ready (I have a difficult enough time waiting for dough to rise -- can I really expect my girls to be more patient than me?)

jennconspiracy said...

Abbie - how was the pretzel! mew!

More kitty pix, pls.

[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

These look amazing! I've been seeing pretzels and it's got me twisted in anticipation. Of when I'm going to finally make them, that is.

Goodness, these really look sensational!

Maggie said...

Alejandra: Men always seem to be more in touch with their inner child.

Jen (Modern Beet): I think they would be excellent with other toppings. I want to try making a sweet version of them soon.

Alexa: Thanks! I think they had a good time.

trisha: I hope you get a chance to try them soon. Let me know how they turn out for you.

jennconspiracy: I'll work on getting more pictures of Abbie. She never leaves me alone when I'm in the kitchen.

[eatingclub] vancouver || js: Thanks! I hope you try them.

maybelle's mom said...

yum, these look great.

Jude said...

Love the nice salty crust. Pass the mustard!

Mike of Mike's Table said...

Its been years since I've had a good soft pretzel--I'd totally forgotten about them! This looks awesome and I love the shot with the kitten poking the pretzel, lol

Jessie said...

Oh, these look great. Yum. Soft pretzels are one of my favorite things. When I was a kid, my dad would take me to NYC and we'd always get one from a cart before we left. :D
Thanks for reminding me!

a.k.a. The Hungry Mouse

muddywaters said...

I made pretzels over at my blog. I love your idea of added a bit of healty, wheat flour. I like the notion of adding a bit of fiber and earthy flavor to the pretzel. Next time I'll make your whole wheat variety.


maybelle's mom said...

Hey, I linked to you on my article because I made this exact recipe.

CaptnRachel aka Tha Pizza Cutta said...

Hey There-I grew up in SE Pennsylvania and that area is really famous for soft pretzels. As a kid, we would do into York County and make pretzels on the factory tours and I've never forgotten that memory. I have been searching for a really great pretzel recipe to re-create the nostalgia of those summer days with my mom and brothers so I am so very, very excited to try this one. Thanks for sharing!!