this bad boy is baked
This is a twisted tale of love, a king and some knots gone wrong. I love to dabble in dough, but I have never made pretzels. You know – the big, soft doughy ones they sell at malls. I rarely buy them but I’ve sampled them enough to know they hit the taste buds like a love drug. I try (I said TRY) not to eat much white flour, so I thought it would be great to see if I could make whole wheat pretzels.
Wouldn’t this be a fun offering for all those looking for goodies for the Super Bowl Game. I don’t watch football, but I love the onslaught of new ads during the game. And of course, something about this game makes us all think we don’t have to worry about how much we eat because the men we’re watching are working out for us.
I searched for recipes and found a number of them that used white flour. Then I dragged out my ginormous Whole Grain Baking book from King Arthur Flour. Bingo! A recipe made for whole wheat and diagrams on how to tie them. I’m directionally impaired, so even tho I studied knots as a Girl Scout 100 years ago, my brain has trouble figuring out these special challenges.
even the ugly ones got baked
I started dragging out ingredients while dreaming about how wonderful these would be.
knead with dough hook
My first clue that things weren’t going according to plan was when I couldn’t get the dough to stretch into nice long ropes. King Arthur said I shouldn’t yank and pull on the dough lest it develop a weak spot. I was not to roll it like play dough, expecting to see tidy dough snakes lining up. So after I cut my doughball into eight equal pieces, I coaxed and cajoled my dough, careful not to command. For 30 minutes I gently pulled and encouraged them one-by-one to become little dough ropes. If one seemed hesitant, I let it rest and think about it, as King Arthur had instructed.
boil a few at a time
All the time I was cheerleading the dough, I had a pot of boiling water ready to receive my perfect pretzels. I finally got one long enough and tied it in some sort of unrecognizable knot and cast it into the pot. It rose up like a prehistoric creature from the bubbling liquid. All knots untied and instead reached out like a sick animal. After a minute, I took pity and set it on a parchment lined bar pan to cool before the next stage.
Lesson learned: I took the rest of the dough sticks, cut them in half and joined them as circles and into the boiling water they went. Some stayed together, others didn’t, but at least this was progress.
After a minute in the pot, they rested on the pan. Meanwhile, I whisked a tablespoon of water into an egg and then slathered them all in the egg wash.
Next I sprinkled them with Sea Salt (the big crusty salt) and sesame seeds. LOTS of sesame seeds.
And into the oven they went, whether they liked it or not.
It was difficult to tell whether they were done because they didn’t change color much, but eventually, I took them out, put them on wire racks and declared the project finished.
I brought the better looking “pretzel-doughnuts” to choir practice a few hours later and handed them out. They were kind enough to choke them down with comments like, “This would be great dipped in a spicy mustard,” or, my husbands, “You should roll them in butter.” Well, the point was to try to make a healthier version.
So, they weren’t a total flop, but next time I think I’ll use white flour (which will be lighter and will stretch more easily) and add cracked wheat (to pretend to be healthy). But I’ll wait till my hubby is home to tie them, as he isn’t directionally impaired.
Ingredients – in case you want to see for yourself:
1 ¾ cup whole wheat flour
1 cup water, room temp
1 TBS butter
1 ½ cups unbleached bread flour
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp barley malt extract, syrup or dried (I didn’t have this.)
8 cups water
2 TBS baking soda
1 egg, beaten with 1 TBS water and a pinch of salt
Sea salt, seeds, etc for topping
Mix the whole wheat flour and water. Cover and let it sit for 20 minutes.
Stir in the soft butter, bread flour, salt, barley extract (?) and yeast.
Mix with a bread hook or by hand. Knead 4-6 minutes until it’s smooth and elastic.
Cover and let dough rise until double – about 90 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
Punch down dough, divide into eight equal pieces.
Lightly flour a work surface and start working dough.
Try to have each rope be about ½ inch thick.
Tie in a rope to form the pretzel shape. (good luck with this!)
Boil one minute each – putting a few at a time into the pot of water.
Brush with egg wash, sprinkle with salt and seeds.
Bake until well browned, 12 – 15 minutes.
Serve pretzels warm, if possible.