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These are soft pretzels, similar to the kind you buy in New York City at the street vendors. High in carbohydrates, low in fat, chewy and filling, they are the quintessential snack food.
These pretzels are really fun to make and would be a good project to do with older kids. They feature our white whole wheat. White wheat is sweeter than whole wheat, but has all the same nutritional attributes. For kids who "hate" whole wheat, this is the answer.
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups room-temperature water
1 tablespoon (1 packet) active dry yeast OR 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) instant yeast
2 1/2 to 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons barley malt extract or powder
1 tablespoon salt
3 cups King Arthur Flour 100% White Whole Wheat Flour or Traditional Whole Wheat Flour
The Water Bath
6 cups water
2 tablespoons baking soda
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water and a pinch of salt
Kosher salt, herb salt substitute, or seeds to sprinkle on top of the pretzels
Dissolve the sugar in the water and add the yeast. Add 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and let sit for about 10 minutes to get your yeast going. Add the barley malt powder, the salt, and the white whole wheat flour. Stir well, then add the balance of the all-purpose flour, a cup at a time, until the dough has formed a shaggy mass.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead it, adding more flour as necessary, until the dough has formed a smooth dough. It should be a little tacky and slack, but not sticky. Put the dough in a bowl and drizzle a little oil on it to prevent the formation of a skin due to air exposure. Cover the bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk.
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Grease two baking sheets or line them with parchment paper. Start heating the water up to boil.
Punch the dough down and knead it briefly to expel any air bubbles. Divide the dough in half and keep dividing the halves into halves until you have 16 more-or-less equal-sized pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 1/2-inch in diameter. The best way to do this is to roll each piece halfway out, and then let it sit to relax. Go back to the first piece and finish rolling it out. The important thing here is to avoid tearing the dough.
Take each rope and make a loop with fairly short ends. Fold the loop over the ends to form the traditional pretzel shape.
By the time that all of the pretzels are formed, the water should be boiling. Turn it down to a simmer and add the baking soda. Carefully pick up the pretzels and add them to the water. Cook about four at a time, making sure that there is plenty of room. The pretzels will expand quickly and dramatically. Cook for about 1 minute. Use a spatula or a slotted spoon to transfer the pretzels to the prepared baking sheets.
When all of the pretzels are done, brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with seeds or kosher salt. Bake the pretzels for 12 to 15 minutes until well browned. Yield: 16 pretzels.
Nutrition information per serving (1 pretzel, 78 g): 146 cal, 1 g fat, 5 g protein, 29 g complex carbohydrate, 1 g sugar, 3 g dietary fiber, 808 mg salt, 122 mg potassium, 2 mg iron, 49 mg calcium, 109 mg phosphorus.
This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. III, No. 8, September-October 1992 issue.