I’m a snacker, let me tell ya. The problem is, when you are trying to avoid processed foods, snacking options are limited. Popcorn? My favorite. Cheese and crackers? Well, I’m pretty limited in my cracker options (I must crack the cracker code soon!). I love fruit…but you know, sometimes you just have to have a salty treat. I definitely have more of a “salt tooth” than a sweet tooth. I can eat a bag of chips in a couple of sittings. It’s a problem.
One thing I love is a soft pretzel. Dipped in honey mustard or cheese sauce, a soft pretzel can really make my day. I used to love to buy them in the freezer section, but….you guessed it. Too processed. Lucky for me, these are easy to make at home. A little time consuming, sure, but when have I ever been one to back away from time-consuming? Still, I’ve been meaning to make these for a year or so now. So, here they are….whole wheat soft pretzels.
This recipe makes 28-32 mini pretzels.
Combine two cups of warm water, one tablespoon of sugar, honey, or barley malt syrup (my choice), and 2 1/4 teaspoons (one package) of yeast in a mixing bowl. Let it stand for ten minutes or until the yeast is foamy. Because of the color of the barley malt syrup, this stuff looks nasty. I promise it isn’t.
Now, mix in one tablespoon of salt and 5 cups of white whole wheat flour…a cup at a time, to make sure you don’t get the mixture too dry. I think I actually added a little less than 5 cups. Whole wheat flour really soaks up moisture, but if you find you need more than 5 cups, add it very slowly. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it until smooth. Wash and dry the bowl and swirl the inside with a little bit of oil. Put the dough inside and cover with a kitchen towel. Place in a warmish place to rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.
When the dough has risen, knead it a couple of times to form a ball and divide it into pieces between 1 1/2 and 2 ounces. Roll the balls into ropes and shape into a pretzel by twisting the ends together then turning them back down onto the round of dough. Place the formed pretzels onto a greased, parchment-lined, or Silpat-lined cookie sheet; cover and allow to rise for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Bring 2 inches of water to a boil. When the 15 minute rise is up, pour two tablespoons of sugar, honey, or barley syrup into the water, then add 1/4 cup of baking soda (stand back-it will foam up!). Carefully drop in 3-4 pretzels, boil them 1 minute on each side, then transfer to a baking sheet. Let me warn you, when you pick the formed pretzels up to drop them in the water after they have been rising, chances are they are not going to hold their shape. Maybe practice makes perfect? Anyway….next beat an egg and brush each pretzel with the egg glaze, then sprinkle with kosher or coarse sea salt (I did these a few at a time so as to not let the egg dry before I sprinkled on the salt).
Bake the pretzels for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. These are fantastic warm but also great at room temperature…but they should not be stored covered, as this will cause them to get soggy. Next time I make them I am going to try freezing them.
Like I said, my favorite ways to eat soft pretzels are with cheese sauce or honey mustard (pictured here). I make my own honey mustard by mixing together one part brown or dijon mustard, one part honey, and two parts mayonnaise.
Don’t be intimidated by these pretzels! That’s just what the food processors want. They are easy, and they are so much better than store-bought. Go for it!