Wednesday, February 13, 2013

How to bake healthier soft pretzels

Welcome to the Festival of Food Carnival. In celebration of Valentine's Day, we're sharing recipe ideas for "love foods" or foods to share with loved ones. Hosted by Diary of a First Child and Hybrid Rasta Mama, you're welcome to join us next time, or if you have a previously published recipe you'd like to share, add it to the linky below.

plated - cooking homemade soft pretzels

This is one of Sam's recipes that makes Mikko very happy. He has no idea that these pretzels are made with half whole wheat flour, and, even though he usually makes us cut the crusts off bread, he doesn't seem to notice that pretzels are pretty much all crust.

Sam and I aren't eating grains anymore, but Mikko hasn't gotten the memo. I like that these have a healthy dose of whole wheat flour and not a lot of other questionable ingredients.

If you're following along with Anktangle's and my Six Ingredient Challenge, you'll be happy to know these pretzels weigh in at exactly six! (Remember you count out water and salt.) There's a tiny bit of sugar, but these make for a more whole-foods version of the type of pretzels you'd get at the mall for quadruple the price. Plus, you can choose how salty the final product is.

If you don't usually bake bread, this can be a fun challenge. The dough stretches out quite easily, and figuring out the knot is simple once you've done it twice. A beautiful handmade pretzel makes a lovely presentation for a special day or a special kid.

Guest post by Crackerdog Sam

Ingredients (for six pretzels):


  • 1 Cup plus 1 Tbsp room-temperature water
 (neither hot nor cold to the touch)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp granulated yeast
  • 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 Cup unbleached white flour, pushed slightly against side of bag when measuring (5.4 oz)
  • 1 Cup white whole wheat flour, pushed slightly against side of bag when measuring (5.4 oz)


  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 Cup warm water
  • large-grain salt (kosher salt or rock salt)


Dietary/allergy notes:

Vegan, vegetarian. Contains gluten.


1) Add the ingredients to a large bowl in the order given, and stir until just combined. Cover bowl loosely and let rise 50 minutes.

dough - cooking homemade soft pretzels

2) Heat the oven to 450˚, having placed a pizza stone on the bottom rack and a large pan half-full of water on the upper rack.

pan of water in stove - cooking homemade soft pretzels

3) Deflate the dough by stirring slightly, then cut the dough in half. Place half the loaf onto a floured surface, and, eyeballing your best guess, divide it into thirds.

dough divided on baking sheet - cooking homemade soft pretzels

4) Flour your hands and the top of each lump, adding more flour as necessary to keep your hands from sticking. Stretch out each lump into a long, skinny rope; I use a combination of squeezing the dough in one of my fists and pulling the dough slowly outward with the fingers of my other hand, working my way from center to end. I try to get the rope to about the thickness of my thumb. If it pulls too thin you can usually bunch up the thin area and it will re-stick to itself.

long skinny dough rope - cooking homemade soft pretzels

5) Twist the rope into a pretzel shape, as seen in the pictures below. Pinch together the places where the dough needs to connect to keep its shape.

forming dough - cooking homemade soft pretzels

forming dough - cooking homemade soft pretzels

forming dough - cooking homemade soft pretzels

forming dough - cooking homemade soft pretzels

6) Place each pretzel as completed on a sheet of parchment paper, in a circular pattern to fit the size of the pizza stone.

parchment paper circle - cooking homemade soft pretzels

7) Mix together the warm water and baking soda and, using a pastry brush, moisten the top of each pretzel. Sprinkle as much coarse salt on top as you desire. (Trim off the edges of the parchment paper as they will brown in the oven at this temperature.)

brushing on wash - cooking homemade soft pretzels

brushing on wash - cooking homemade soft pretzels

8) Use a pizza peel to place the parchment and pretzels onto the pizza stone. Bake in the preheated oven, which should be steamy by now, for 12-14 minutes, until golden brown.

golden brown baked - cooking homemade soft pretzels

9) While those are baking, make the other three pretzels with the other half of the dough, and switch them out when the first batch is done. Let cool for a few minutes and they'll be ready to eat. (If you have any leftovers the next day, reheat in the toaster oven to get the outside crispy again.)

done and plated - cooking homemade soft pretzels

10) Optional: If you like those flavored mall pretzels, you can brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle on parmesan cheese, garlic salt, your own spice mix, or something like a Kernel Season's popcorn seasoning (sour cream and onion, ranch, white cheddar, nacho cheese, parmesan and garlic, jalapeno, chili lime, etc.). Those do not fit the Six Ingredient plan, sorry! But they are natural and gluten-free and make a yummy occasional treat. Mikko prefers his plain!

seasoning on top - cooking homemade soft pretzels

Surprise your Valentine with a beautiful homemade soft pretzel!

Please take a moment to visit the blogs of our other Festival of Food participants. The links in this list will be live by the end of the day, as participants are all in different time zones.

Stay connected! Be sure to "Like" the Festival of Food Carnival Facebook page.


Luschka said...

Oh, this is soooo bad. One of my favourite memories of Germany is Octoberfest in Munich, and warm soft pretzels the morning after the night before. hmmmm... comfort food at it's salty best. And I'm trying so hard to go grain free! Love the recipe. Thanks for joining us!

Luschka said...

(In case it got lost in the continental divide, by soooo bad I mean sooooo yes please! ;) )

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said...

LOVE homemade pretzels! I might have to make some pretzel hearts for V-day!!

Unknown said...

I'm literally salivating...I'd much rather a salty treat than a sweet one and I can practically smell these baking...thanks for the recipe :)

Unknown said...

This looks so yummy!

Sara said...

These look delicious AND safe for my allergy kid! Thanks for the great recipe, I can't wait to try them out!

Unknown said...

I MISS soft pretzels and these look incredible! Mmmmm...dipping them in some spicy mustard. I could make that a meal! Thanks for sharing Mr. CrackerDog!

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