Get into Pretzel Heaven! Garlicy & Seedy Whole Wheat Pretzel Bites

One of my fondest memories was traveling via train throughout Europe. Even though the bakeries that were in the train station were chains, they still were ten times better than the bakeries I could find in Vancouver. I'd always pick up a croissant and something flakey and sweet. But on the last leg of my journey from Berlin to Frankfurt, I was caught unprepared - there wasn't time to stop off at a bakery before boarding our train. Luckily, European trains are very civilized and we were able to pick up a beer and a pretzel from a vendor that wandered down the train cars. The pretzel was perfect - dense and chewy and salty and a perfect accompaniment to the beer. I was in pretzel heaven!

I've always been curious to bake up a batch of pretzels myself and I've had this Alton Brown recipe bookmarked for years. Finally I worked up the nerve to give it a go. I used half whole wheat flour in addition to regular all-purpose and I think it worked really well. I liked the buttery taste in the dough, but if you're vegan, this should work equally well with olive oil. But when it came down to shaping the pretzels, I lost my nerve. So instead of dividing the dough into 8 sections and making long snakes and twisting them up the traditional way, I took the easy way out and made pretzel bites. Don't worry, you still get to make dough snakes! I guess I'm not the only one queasy with knots since one look over at Tastespotting reveals a bunch of pretzel balls (snicker!). I admit to being quite happy with the "bites" route since I made these for a party and it made for the perfect bite-sized snack. And so easy for dipping into dijon mustard too!

I should mention that these pretzels are not the traditional dense pretzels that I longed for - the ones found on German trains or like the ones available at the Swiss Bakery here in Vancouver. Though they are shiny and brown and chewy on the outside, the insides are definitely soft and bready. Not that it's a bad thing at all, but if you are looking for tradition, look elsewhere. These were easily gobbled up and delicious still warm from the oven. Also, note that this recipe makes a ton of pretzels. If you are having a guests, make the recipe as is, otherwise, cut the recipe in half.

Garlicy & Seedy Whole Wheat Pretzel Bites

(recipe adapted from Alton Brown)
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 pkg active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
4 tablespoons melted butter (or olive oil)

10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda

1 large yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Combine water, honey and kosher salt in a large bowl of your stand mixer. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let sit 5 minutes until it foams up. Add in the flour and the butter and use the dough hook attachment to mix on low speed until combined. Up the speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes. Remove the dough, clean the bowl and oil it up with a bit of vegetable oil. Place the dough back inside the bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Let it sit in a warm place for about an hour until it has doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 450F and line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper. Brush lightly with vegetable oil and set aside.

In a large pot, bring the 10 cups of water along with the baking soda and bring to a rolling boil.

In a small bowl, combine the salt, sesame seeds and garlic powder.

Meanwhile, divide the dough into 4 sections (like cutting a pie) and roll out the dough using your hands into a long snake. Cut the dough into 1 inch sections. Repeat with the remaining dough. Lightly roll each section into balls.

Drop the pretzel bites one at a time into the boiling water for about 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and place onto the prepared sheet pans. Brush each ball with the yolk & water mixture and then sprinkle with the salty seed mixture. Bake for 12 - 14 minutes or until the pretzel bites take on a dark brown colour. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before serving. Makes about 60 bites.

Vancouverite, foodie, crafty, freelance designer, Jeannette Ordas from the popular food blog, Everybody Likes Sandwiches joins us every Wednesday enticing us with her hearty and simple recipes!

Jan Halvarson


Peggy said...

OH I love the Alton Brown pretzel recipe and never thought to incorporate whole wheat (even though I do it with EVERY thing else! ha ha) I normally end up rolling ours in cinnamon and sugar as it is the favorite topping of our boys. They also like them with a traditional topping of pretzel salt then use Nutella as the dipping sauce. I am going to have to try this savory topping for our next gathering! Thanks for the reminder to make these up for Christmas break!!

rcboisjoli said...

That lovely shiny brown finish is from a Sodium Hydroxide bath (lye, like that in soap) My german friend swears it's the only way to make pretzels.

Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse said...

These sound phenomenally tasty!

P.S. Today is my first blogiversary (yay!) and I'm hosting my first-ever giveaway (and it is handmade!):

Anonymous said...

Try Black forest deli for pretzels in i've found in comparison to ones in Europe.

Shutterbug said...

yum! i will have to make this someday.

kickpleat said...

rcboisjoli, I heard that! Sounds a little scary to me - the baking soda seemed to work fine, but these aren't traditional that's for sure.

Andrea, thanks for the pretzel tip - I'll totally check them out!

Annika said...

These look divine. I will have to try and make them!

Mo said...

Seriously?!? Oh my goodness this looks delicious. I'm going to have to try these.

Coco Cake Land said...

oh man, jeannette. lookin' good.

Anonymous said...

Yum! I'm making these. I need an excuse to eat more of my Maille mustard :)