I’m in love with soft pretzels that resemble the texture of dinner rolls versus pretzels that are hard and dense. In their defense however, I must say that the latter type, when dipped in a grainy mustard, are hard to pass up. But today I am looking for more of a comfort food in this soft dough, plus they are much easier to make. I’ve upped the nutritional value by using a mix of whole wheat and whole wheat pastry flours. A great piece of news about this recipe is that when you use quick-rise yeast (like Red Star or Fleischmanns), you can make these in less than an hour because it doesn’t require a full doubling rise of the dough. Making pretzels is a lot like making pizza dough in that the dough doesn’t necessarily need to rise much to fulfill it’s purpose, if that makes sense.
I tested out a couple of varieties and enjoyed both of them for different reasons. I’m a sucker for cinnamon-sugar topped anything so had to try that one. The other one is topped with grated Parmesan cheese for a more savory/salty taste.
A lot of folks are cutting out bread products these days with the popular trends and emphasis on eating more protein and choosing gluten-free foods. I’ll remind you of how I feel about cutting gluten out of the diet in this post HERE. Remember, your body needs lots of fiber for digestion, blood sugar control, cholesterol management and more. When you avoid bread products you eliminate one of the best fiber sources around. Furthermore, active fit individuals need adequate carbohydrates to meet their energy needs as they are the most efficient source of energy the body has. The KEY is to avoid “useless” carbohydrates, which I define as products made with enriched, low nutritional value processed flours found primarily in snack foods like crackers, cookies, chips, cereal and bread. If you want to eat these products look for whole grain or 100% whole wheat in the first one or two ingredients. If they’re not there, then the product is probably “useless”. “Useless” carbs are absorbed quickly, convert to sugar quickly requiring more insulin production and subsequent storage of fat. So even though we talk about cutting carbs, it’s so much more important to qualify your carbohydrates rather than quantify them. End of soap box!
These would be fabulous served along side any of my soups, stews or chilis which I gathered together in yesterday’s Souper Bowl Round-Up 2015.
- Soft Whole Wheat Pretzels
- 2 cups stone ground whole wheat flour
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 package quick-rise yeast (like Red Star or Fleischmann's)
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup low-fat milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 Tbsp canola or grapeseed oil
- Cooking Spray
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Cinnamon-sugar or grated Parmesan cheese
- Combine stone ground whole wheat flour, sugar, undissolved yeast, and salt In a large bowl of a standing mixer fitted with mixing paddle.
- Heat milk, water and oil in a small saucepan placed over medium-high heat until very warm (120 - 130 degrees F). Add to dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
- Switch to dough hook and add enough whole wheat pastry flour to make a soft dough. Knead on low until smooth and elastic, about 4 to 6 minutes. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Divide dough into 14 pieces. Roll each piece into a 20-inch rope. Cover and let rest 10 minutes until risen slightly.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat two baking sheets with cooking spray.
- To shape into pretzels: Curve ends of each rope to make a circle; cross ends at the top. Twist ends once and lay over bottom of circle. Place on two prepared baking sheets.
- Brush with half of the beaten egg. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven; brush again with remaining beaten egg and top with cinnamon-sugar and/or grated Parmesan cheese.
- Return to oven and bake an additional 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove pretzels from baking sheets and allow to cool on wire racks.
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