The Back to the Future, Buddies traveled way back this month to make soft pretzels. I missed these pretzels when the Bread Baking Babes (BBBs) made them in 2011 so I was glad Carola chose them this month.
Pretzels have a unique history. Also known as Pretiola (little reward) in Latin, they are said to have been invented by monks around 610 AD to reward their students for memorizing bible verses.
Pretiola’s were made out of bread dough scraps and shaped to represent a child’s folded arms in prayer. Supposedly, the three holes represented the Christian Trinity. Some sources claim that pretzels originated in a monastery near Northern Italy or Southern France, but other sources say they were invented by a German Monk.
Whether it’s Pretiola (Latin), Brachiola (Italian), or Bretzel (German), a pretzel by any other name still smells as sweet (or doughy, rather) and tastes as good.
I’m not certain what type of flour would’ve been used in 610 AD to make pretzels, but I’m guessing it wouldn’t have been the commercial white flour we have today.
These days, pretzels can be made with many different types of flour so I decided to use a mixture of all-purpose and whole grain spelt flours. I also tried Carola’s suggestion and added ground flax seed meal. To top things off, I sprinkled the tops with black sesame seeds and a little bit of kosher salt.
Soft Spelt Pretzels
Original recipe from MyRecipes: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/soft-pretzels
My version is adapted from: http://sweetandthatsit.blogspot.ch/2013/12/soft-pretzels-laugen-bretzel.html
YIELD: 12 servings (serving size: 1 pretzel)
- 300 g all-purpose spelt flour (I used VitaSpelt)
- 120 g whole grain spelt flour (VitaSpelt)
- 40 g ground flaxseed meal
- 1 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
- 1 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 1 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
- 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 6 cups water
- 1 1/2 to 2 T baking soda
Glaze and Toppings:
- Cooking spray
- 1 tsp. water
- 1 large egg
- 2 tsp. kosher salt, optional for sprinkling
- Black sesame or poppy seeds for sprinkling
1) Add the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir with a wire whisk to incorporate. Gradually add in the water until it forms a soft dough.
2) Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently knead until it is smooth and elastic. The dough will feel slightly sticky. Don’t over knead it if you are using spelt.
3) Place dough in a clean bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top.
4) Cover and let the dough rise in a warm place (85° F.), free from drafts, 40 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes.
5) Divide dough into 12 equal portions. Cover the dough prevent drying. Working with one portion at a time, roll each portion into an 18-inch-long rope with tapered ends. Cross one end of rope over the other to form a circle, leaving about 4 inches at end of each rope. Twist the rope at the base of the circle. Fold the ends over the circle and into a traditional pretzel shape, pinching gently to seal.
6) Place pretzels on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or sprayed lightly with cooking spray). Cover and let rise 10 minutes (pretzels will rise slightly).
7) Preheat oven to 425° F.
8) Combine 6 cups water and baking soda in a non-aluminum Dutch oven or pot. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer.
9) Gently lower 1 pretzel (or more if the pot is larger) into simmering water mixture; cook 15 seconds. Turn pretzel with a slotted spatula; cook an additional 15 seconds. Transfer pretzel to a wire rack coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining pretzels.
10) Place pretzels back on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Combine 1 teaspoon water and egg in a small bowl, stirring with a fork until smooth. Brush a thin layer of egg mixture over pretzels; sprinkle with kosher salt and/or seeds. I sprinkled mine with kosher salt and black sesame seeds.
11) Bake at 425° for 10 to 12 minutes or until pretzels are deep golden brown.
12) Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
These pretzels have a slightly earthy flavor due to the ground flaxseed and spelt. They tasted good warm with butter. They would probably taste really good with spicy brown mustard but I didn’t have any. They could also use more kosher salt. I sprinkled it lightly, but if I make these again, I will add more.