Saturday, February 7, 2009

Wholy Pretzels!

At Edinburgh's annual German market, I was a big fan of the big, soft pretzels. Inexcusably full of white carbs, I restrained myself... but with the German market over and done with, I miss those lil guys, even if my thighs don't. WINK.

I found a recipe in my new Rachel Allen cookbook, a Christmas present, which is a great resource for hunger-inducing ideas. Here I have adopted her recipe for soft pretzels into a more healthful 100% whole wheat version, and in part, a glazed raisin variety.

These are especially worth making because you can use them as a replacement for the usual sandwich bread or toast. I like to have one paired with soup for lunch, or half of one with an apple and cheese for a pre-workout snack.

Try it. You'll be saying "mmm, schmcekt gut!" in no time.

Wholy Pretzels (makes about 12, depending on how big you like them)

  • 500g strong whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp fast-acting yeast
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 375 ml warm water
  • rock salt
For the baking soda boil:
  • 75g baking soda
  • 1 liter water
  1. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, and make a well in the center.
  2. Mix the wet ingredients and add them slowly, mixing in between additions. You can mix this with your hands, which is fun.
  3. Knead the mixture for 10 minutes, until the dough bounces back to shape when poked with your finger. It should be quite firm, but not flaky and dry, nor sticky.
  4. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in a warm place until doubled in size (1-3 hours, mine took only 1).
  5. Preheat the oven to 230 degrees C (450 F) and line baking trays with parchment.
  6. Punch the dough down and divide into 12 (or less or more) semi-even-sized pieces.
  7. For each pretzel, roll the dough into a long snake, about as thick as a Sharpie. Twist the ends together and fold the ends over the middle of the pretzel and press down to seal the shape.
  8. After shaping all the pretzels, cover them up with plastic wrap and let them rise again for 15 minutes.
  9. During the end of the second rising, bring the water to a boil, and add the baking soda. Reduce the heat to a simmer.
  10. Place the pretzels, 2 at a time, in the water. Simmer for 30 seconds, then flip to simmer 30 more seconds on the other side. Remove and place back on the lined tray. Sprinkle a pinch of salt on top.
  11. Bake in the oven for 8-12 minutes, turning them over half way through if needed.

*Instead of salt, you can use poppy seeds, dried onion, nuts or other seeds.
*There's a reason for raisins: They're delicious. Work some raisins into the dough before shaping them into the pretzel shape. Try making 1 or 2 raisin pretzels in the batch if you don't want a whole batch of raisin pretzels.

  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 30g icing sugar (more or less to get the right consistency)
Mix together and spread over the pretzels, or use as a pretzel dip.

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