Sometimes a craving will come over us and we just must oblige. That was the case here; I was craving pretzels and wanted to make bite size or at least three bite pretzels bite. They’re actually more like a mini pretzel loaf and very rustic looking. Originally, I wanted to make this a gluten free version but unfortunately they did not come out good at all so I decided to try out a version using whole wheat and spelt. To my thankfulness these came out great. They have a somewhat firm crust and a nice soft center and good chew along with a wonderful pretzel flavor. I tried making these two ways, well actually three ways but the gluten free way didn’t work, and I much rather prefer the latter for this beautiful crust and pretzel flavor that my prior batch did not have. The trick was the baking soda bath, that made all the difference. Although if you skip this step and just place the pretzel bites in the broiler for a minute or so you will get a pretty color but nothing like these, even the bottoms were caramel color and I didn’t even flip them.
I’ve included spelt flour in this recipe to break up the whole wheat density a bit. I’ve read up on spelt and have used it in a few of my recipes, pancakes to be exact. Spelt is a great replacement for whole wheat and all-purpose flours whenever possible for the majority of us. For those with wheat allergies, spelt is a good replacement for other wheat flours. Even though it is in the wheat family it has a different molecule makeup. It even contains more protein than wheat and its nutrients are easily digestible. As for using spelt in breads, I have seen some great yeast breads using all spelt that have come out beautifully and it works here too with this yeast bread. Try some spelt pancakes too, it has a slightly nutty and sweet flavor, you may never go back to regular flour again.
We all have different tastes and so I encourage you to try this recipe using the various flours to see which ones you like best. This will work with all whole wheat bread flour, unbleached bread flour, even all spelt flour or any combination. If you like making your own pretzels, try the different flours. I will surely tell you that all of your experiments will be tasty ones…
FRESH FROM THE OVEN: SOFT PRETZEL BITES
- 1 1/4 cup warm water (100°F – 110°F)
- 2 teaspoons + 2 tablespoon pure cane sugar, divided
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 cup whole wheat bread flour
- 1 cup spelt flour
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (I like to grind mine fine by using a mortar stone)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- olive oil, for brushing
- pretzel salt or any salt as topping (I used garlic sea salt)
Start yeast: Pour warm water and 2 teaspoons sugar into bowl of food processor fitted with dough attachment, or an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Alternately, you can mix this entire dough mixture in a medium size bowl without any equipment at all while saving washing. Stir water and sugar to combine, sprinkle with yeast and let sit for 10 minutes; yeast should be foamy.
Make dough: Add 1 cup flour to yeast, mix until combined. Add salt and rest of flour, mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat on medium-low until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 1 1/2 minutes. If dough is too dry add more water 1 tablespoon at a time and if dough is too wet, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time (this may all depend on weather conditions). Blend for another 30 seconds. Transfer to a lightly floured board and knead about ten minutes, or until smooth.
Let dough rise: In a large bowl, pour oil and swirl to coat sides. Bring dough into the bowl, turn completely to cover all sides with oil. Cover with kitchen towel and leave in a warm spot for about 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size.
Heat oven to 450 degrees.
Roll dough: Lightly grease baking sheet with coconut or olive oil (parchment and ungreased works too), set aside. Punch down the dough in the center to remove bubbles. Lightly flour a board and transfer the dough. Knead once or twice, pull off little sections rolling into a 1 1/2 inch ball or oblong shapes. Let the shapes rest until they rise a little, about 15 minutes.
Baking soda bath: Fill a large, shallow pot with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Add baking soda one tablespoon at a time (it will foam up so be gentle when adding). Add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Reduce to a simmer; place half of the bites in the water and poach for 45 seconds on each side. Use slotted spoon to transfer pretzel bites to baking sheet. Continue until all pretzels are poached.
Bake: Using a sharp knife slash a shallow cross or straight line across the top of each pretzel bite. With a silicon brush, coat the pretzel bites with olive oil and sprinkle with salt of choice. Bake until golden brown, 10 – 12 minutes or so. Let cool on wire rack, or eat warm. Coat with olive oil once more before eating if desired and sprinkle a little more salt. Pretzels are best when eaten right away or the same day. You can keep left over pretzels at room temperature, uncovered, for one to two days. Do not store in covered container or they will become soggy.
Serve plain or with your favorite accompaniment. I used dijon and whole grain mustard.
Makes approx. 16