Friday, November 7, 2008

Multigrain Soft Pretzels

I usually shy away from yeasted bread recipes between the kneading and the proofing and time it takes to produce. However, this recipe is so simple and quick (as yeasted breads go) that our family has made it several times in the last couple of months. Obviously, the kids love them for breakfast, lunches and snacks, and they love helping to twist the dough into unique shapes! *The barley flour, oat bran and flax seed can of course be substituted by your favorite flours or meals (we have used oatmeal, quinoa flour, rye, and wheat bran in different batches). I normally use a combination of half white and half whole-wheat flour in all of my baking, and if you don’t have any other kinds of flour, bran, etc. on hand, you can simply increase the amounts of both to 2 cups. I have also substituted one cup homemade sourdough starter for ½ cup each of the water and flour mixture.
  • 1 package yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (approx 90-100 degrees F)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups white flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup barley flour*
  • 1/4 cup coarse oat bran*
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal*
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbs baking soda
  • Boiling water
  • Kosher salt, sesame seeds or other toppings

Stir together the yeast, honey and warm water and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir in the flours, bran, flaxseed meal and salt. The dough should be stiff. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. (You might need extra flour for the board depending on how the flours/meals you mixed in take the moisture.)

Cut dough into 8 equal pieces, roll into 15-by-20-inch ropes, twist into pretzel shapes and gently place on a parchment-covered cookie sheet. (Note, if you don’t have non-stick parchment paper, I recommend a cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal so the dough doesn’t stick.) To make the distinctive pretzel shape, cross the ends of the rope twice about 1-2 inches from the ends and fold the loop down over the twisted section. Alternatively, you can make pretzel braids, bagel shapes, or small balls—whatever the kids want—just make sure the shapes and sizes are relatively uniform on each baking sheet. Cover with a towel and let rise for about 45 minutes, or until double in size.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Bring 2 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons of baking soda to a boil. Submerge the pretzels one at a time in this solution for 5 to 10 seconds, pushing them under the water with a slotted spoon, then take them out carefully (you can transfer them directly to the parchment dripping wet otherwise they will start to fall apart if you try to drain them too long). Brush with a whisked egg and sprinkle with kosher salt, sesame seeds or other topping if desired. Bake at 475 degrees on the middle rack of the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. They are best straight out of the oven, of course, but if you are storing them, make sure they are completely cool before placing in a bag or container, otherwise the salt will soften and “disappear.” For a healthy snack, we like to dip them in hummus or herbed yogurt cheese (stir your favorite herb blend and salt and pepper into lowfat plain yogurt and let sit in a strainer lined with paper towel overnight or up to 24 hours).

Adapted from:

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