Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Food Desert Project - Oaty Soft Pretzels

One of the grain options in Sparky's Lunchbuilder is a soft pretzel, and I've been buying (gasp) frozen soft pretzels for him to dip in my homemade mustard cheese dip.  Unfortunately, those pretzels - while tasty - are made with refined flour, and don't contain any whole I decided to make some whole-grain-enriched pretzels and post them here. (Well, the truth really is that I forgot to put them on my shopping list, but I'd been bothered about them being relatively unhealthy, so I thought I'd go ahead and make some.)

A bit of googling turned up this recipe, which adds some oatmeal to the flour (about a 1:3 ratio.)  Unfortunately, pretzels, like bagels, require quite a bit of gluten to hold together, so without access to whole wheat flour and wheat gluten, this bit of added whole grain is the best way to improve the recipe.

3 to 3 1/2 cups All-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup dry oats (quick or old fashioned)
1 Tbsp sugar
2 1/4 tsp quick rising yeast (one packet)
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup lowfat milk
3/4 cup water
1 tbsp butter

A skillet full of boiling water, with baking soda and sugar (about a tablespoon of each)  

Combine the milk and water in a microwave-safe container; heat until just off a boil and add the butter.  Set aside for 10 minutes.  Stir in the sugar and yeast. 

Fit your mixer with the dough hook (if you don't have a mixer, combine the ingredients in a bowl and stir with a heavy spoon.  Turn out and knead by hand.)  Combine 2 cups of the flour, oats, and salt in the bowl.  With the mixer running, stream in the liquids until they are fully combined.  Gradually add the remaining flour until the dough starts to pull away from the edge, and then knead at low speed for 10 minutes.

Remove your dough from the mixer; it should be springy and tight.  Cover with a damp towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

005Divide your dough into 24 pieces (cut into quarters, cut each quarter in half, and each halved quarter into three equal parts, and roll each into a 12" snake.

Twist into pretzel shape - bring the two ends up into a U shape, cross the ends of the U into an X, add an extra twist, then open the loop so it's wide, dampen the two ends with a bit of water, and press them into the loop.


Place each finished pretzel on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, cover with a damp towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

009Here's where my recipe differs from the linked one: to me, like a bagel, a pretzel's not a pretzel if it isn't boiled.  I filled a large cast-iron skillet most of the way with water, put it on high heat, added approximately a tablespoon of baking soda and another of sugar.  Once it was boiling vigorously, I tossed the pretzels in and allowed them to bathe there until they came bobbing up to the surface.  At that point, I fished them out with tongs and, shaking and turning them lightly to drain them as much as possible, I placed them back on the parchment.

After their bath, the pretzels went into the oven for 15-20 minutes, until they were the lovely burnished gold color you see here (no camera finishing tricks were applied!)  They were chewy and delicious, and passed muster even with Sparky - who is remarkably choosy about soft pretzels.  (PS.  I never salt the pretzels; salting them is up to you.  First of all, the baking soda in the water is sufficient to make them salty, second, if you learn to eat them with mustard, you don't really miss the salt.) Nutrition Information.



Christina said...

I just made pretzel rolls over the weekend. I like the idea of adding oats to improve the nutritional value. I'll have to try it next time. Thanks! (Pucca)

Michele Hays said...

Thanks, Christina - I had to do it again this week, and subbed in 1 cup of Chapati flour (Indian whole-wheat) with a tablespoon of wheat gluten for even more nutrition. I'll let you know how that goes.

(I bet your pretzel rolls were beautiful!)

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