Have you ever had a gluten free soft pretzel? This is the first time I’ve ever had one (and the first time I’ve ever made soft pretzels from scratch) and I must say – this recipe is a winner!
The process, although not very difficult, does take time so make sure that your schedule is clear before diving in. Having never made soft pretzels before, I did some research before building my own recipe, and I took tips from Alton Brown on the Food Network for proofing, boiling (alkali bath) and baking the dough, which worked wonders! I was at first a bit wary about making the dough gluten free, as this type of flour tends to have a different texture in flour-heavy dough. Before being set in the bowl to rise, the dough looked absolutely perfect – and even had the texture of regular glutenous dough! But after the rising process, it was almost a crumbly texture. This will most likely happen to you if you follow my recipe, but don’t fret! With some added oil and gentle care, the dough can be worked into pretzel form, proofed and baked to perfection. Your first few tries may look a little rough around the edges (mine sure did!) but don’t be discouraged because the outcome of your perseverance is delicious!
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp pure agave
1 package (or 2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups Gluten Free Flour (Red Mill)
4 Tbsp Earth Balance butter (Soy Free)
Vegetable or Canola Oil
1 cage-free egg (for basting, coloring)
2/3 cup baking soda
10 cups (approx.) water
In a large bowl, combine the warm water and agave in a bowl. Sprinkle the active dry yeast on top of the water, and let sit for roughly 5 minutes. The warm water activates the yeast, making it foam up (before & after images below, respectively) —
Place the Earth Balance butter in a small bowl and warm until melted (approximately 10 seconds in microwave). Add the Earth Balance and Gluten Free flour into the water and yeast mixture. Using a wooden spoon, mix dough thoroughly, until it becomes soft in texture and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl.
When it looks like this (above) pull the dough out of the bowl and use your hands to kneed the dough well for roughly 4 minutes. Using a paper towel, grease the bowl with oil and place the dough back into the bowl. Use plastic wrap or a dish towel to cover, and set the bowl in a warm place for roughly 50-55 minutes. This will allow the dough time to rise.
The dough will rise significantly in this time, filling the bowl’s width. This is a good sign!
Before we move on, pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees F, and ready a greased baking sheet.
Here is where things get sticky. Remove the plastic wrap or dish towel, and turn the dough out onto a heavily greased surface. I cut the dough into 8 sections (making 8 pretzels), but you could make them smaller or larger depending on preference). Once divided, make sure the surface is still greased well, and use your hands to roll out each piece of dough into a long strip. The dough seemed to be extra crumbly and difficult to handle, so make sure that you are gentle and using plenty of oil/spray to ensure the dough rolls out smoothly without breaking apart. Take the strip, form a U shape, and then cross and twist the two ends over one another to form a pretzel shape. Note – You don’t have to make the strip of dough very long, but do make sure that the width of the dough is even along the entire length of the strip.
Once all the pretzels are formed, fill a pot or deep saucepan with the 10 cups of water AND the 2/3 cup of baking soda and bring this to a boil. Keeping the boiling temperature of the water, gently lower the pretzels (one by one) into the water with a flat slotted spatula. The water will foam up at first, and the pretzels will float – this is a good sign! Leave each pretzel in the water for roughly 30 seconds, and then remove with the spatula and place onto your greased baking sheet.
In a separate small bowl, whisk an egg with a tablespoon of water.Then using a rubber spatula or silicon brush, baste each pretzel with the egg mixture (this will ensure a golden brown finish to your pretzels). Next, sprinkle salt to your liking onto each of the pretzels, then place in the oven. They should take roughly 20 minutes to bake, but keep an eye on them as they will cook faster / longer depending on the size.
Once fully cooked, remove your pretzels from the oven and place on a cooling rack for a few minutes before serving.
**I always serve my soft pretzels with spicy brown mustard!