One of the questions I get most often is “What do you guys eat for snacks?”
Unfortunately, my answer is quite plain and not very exciting: fruit.
Yes, when the family snacks, 8 times out of 10, it’s fruit. The ninth and tenth times might be carrot sticks, homemade pickles, a homemade granola bar or even dried fruit, but I admit – those aren’t very exciting either.
That’s because since embarking on our real food journey a few years ago, snacking has pretty much lost its luster.
While in the grocery store, I totally bypass the snack aisle. Previous trips have shown me that there are very few items that aren’t laden with preservatives or additives, and it doesn’t seem worth the effort to turn over 10 or 20 boxes (again) just to possibly find the one gem that’s doesn’t go too far beyond the real food boundaries.
And the chance of that one item being affordable is slim to none… so for the most part, I don’t waste my time and just keep on walking.
I’ve mentioned this before, but I have a serious problem with tortilla chips. It’s kinda like my relationship with peanut butter, except there’s no unwritten rule that I can’t eat them. Tortilla chips are definitely a snack though, and shopping for them isn’t as much fun when you read the ingredients.
And I can’t NOT read the ingredients.
There are better tortilla chip options, like the organic blue corn chips that Grocery Outlet had last week… but those came with a not-so-nice price tag despite the fact the store is a discount grocer.
Unfortunately, I can’t ignore the price tag either.
Like me and tortilla chips, Mr. Crumbs has a secret crush on pretzels. Every now and then he craves those hard, sourdough pretzels. Just a couple months ago, he said to me,
“Babe, do you think you can make me pretzels some time?”
I’ve been around the block enough times with this man to know this phrase is really code for,
“Honey, I know you don’t like buying these pretzels, but they’re my one fun snack item. I respect the hard work you put into feeding us good food while staying with the budget, but I would really like to enjoy pretzels now and then… so don’t get upset if you find a box in the pantry.”
He has a point. I feed him some pretty weird things sometimes, like the purple barley at dinner last week and the beets I keep “sneaking” in his smoothies… despite him repeatedly telling me he doesn’t like them.
What, the insanely bright red color is from the blueberries and strawberries, honey… there aren’t any beets in there, promise! 😉
I can’t tell the man “no” when he makes a simple request for a box of pretzels. Instead, my counter-attack is simple: learn to make them myself.
Soft Pretzel Recipe
When it comes to pretzels, there’s a different style for everyone:
- hard or soft
- sourdough or yeast
- plain or salted
- flavored dough or rolled in a topping
- Philadelphia-style, bites or rods
No doubt, my homemade pretzels days have just begun. This particular homemade pretzel is soft and chewy, moderately salty (which can easily be modified to your own liking) and smells deliciously like the pretzels from gourmet shops.
I’m seriously not exaggerating on the smell or the delicious part either. This entire batch of pretzels was devoured in mere minutes. I consider myself lucky to have snagged one for myself and taken a few photos before they disappeared.
Gluten-free folks will be pleasantly surprised to see Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free 1-to-1 baking flour in the recipe. It’s perfect for substituting in recipes that traditionally call for wheat flour and you won’t notice the difference. The five taste testers of this pretzel sure didn’t (and they’re all under the age of 13 – prime time for speaking their minds on what they really think).
Regardless if you’re plagued by food allergies or you can eat whatever you want, this recipe makes it official – snack time is back on, and it’s fun!
- ¾ cup warm water (105-110F)
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1 tsp salt
- 1⅛ tsp active dry yeast
- ¾ cup oat flour (make your own here)
- 1½ cups Bob's Red Mill gluten-free 1-to-1 baking flour*
- 2 Tbsp butter, room temperature
- 5 cups water
- ⅓ cup baking soda
- 1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp water, whisked together for an egg wash
- coarse Kosher salt, for sprinkling
- olive oil, for brushing
- Combine water, honey, salt and yeast in either a medium mixing bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Allow this to sit for at least 5 minutes, or until the yeast has bloomed and looks like beer foam.
- Add the oat flour, gluten-free all-purpose flour blend and butter. Mix by hand using a wooden spoon, or use the dough hook attachment on low to mix until the ingredients are well combined. Begin kneading by hand, or increase the speed of a mixer to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and the bowl is clean, about 5 minutes.
- Cover the dough with a towel and place in a warm spot. Allow to rise for 1 hour. (Note: You will not see a noticeable rise.)
- Preheat oven to 450F. Line a large baking sheet, or two smaller baking sheets, with parchment paper. Brush lightly with olive oil. Set aside.
- Combine the 5 cups of water and baking soda in a large, wide pot. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil.
- Meanwhile, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 16 equal pieces. Knead each piece of dough in your hands for at least 30 seconds, until the dough has a texture similar to play-doh. Add a drop or two of additional oil if needed and continue to knead until the dough is soft and pliable.
- Gently roll each piece of dough into a rope 10"-12" in length. (Note: Because the dough has no gluten, there is no natural elasticity. If the dough breaks while you're shaping, simply squish back into a ball, knead for 5-10 seconds and try again.)
- Make a U-shape with the dough and cross the ends over each other twice. Fold the ends downward and press gently into the bottom of the U-shape. Place onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. (Note: Using just the last 1-2" of each end of rope yields the best shaped pretzel.)
- Working with 1-2 pretzels at a time (however many will comfortably fit in your pot without crowding them), boil the pretzels in the baking soda for 30 seconds. Turn the pretzel over after 20 seconds if it is not fully submerged.
- Return the boiled pretzels back to the baking sheet and brush the tops with the egg wash. Sprinkle liberally (or to taste) with coarse Kosher salt.
- Bake until medium dark brown, 13-16 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe inspired by Brown Eyed Baker.
Additional Recipe Notes
- Do not substitute granulated sugar for the honey. This dough needs the extra moisture from the honey, otherwise they will crumble as you roll your ropes.
- Do not skip the parchment paper brushed with oil. After three batches of pretzels that stuck like mad to a very well seasoned cookie sheet, this was the only method that worked for no-stick pretzels.
- Recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.
- These recipes are best right out of the oven, but for future enjoyment, consider freezing individually and reheating in an oven or toaster oven.
- For a cinnamon sugar topping, mix 1/2 tsp of cinnamon with 1/4 cup granulated sugar and melt 1 Tbsp of butter in a small bowl. Brush the freshly baked pretzels with melted butter, then roll in cinnamon sugar. Try not to eat them at all, unless no one is looking.
- For an almond topping, use Honey Roasted Almonds. Chop roasted almonds into small bits, brush freshly baked pretzels with melted butter, then roll or sprinkle in almonds.
Personally, I like a soft pretzel with extra salt. What’s your favorite?
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill. I love Bob’s Red Mill and use them often in my kitchen, long before this blog was born. As always, I would never recommend anything on Crumbs that I wouldn’t recommend to a close friend or neighbor, and all opinions here are my own.