Tired of doing the same old things with sourdough? Why not make pretzels?
Like many people, I’ve been caught up in the sourdough craze. The weird thing about it is that I was on my way to making my own sourdough at home before we all hit lockdown. I was diagnosed with SIBO at the end of last year and was presented with a few different diets to try. After a really restrictive SIBO diet (which I’m planning on talking about in a future blog), I switched to Low FODMAP eating in February, and haven’t looked back since.
Low FODMAP eating gives the green light to sourdough, and I base almost all of my baking around it these days. I’ve found that wheat and gluten in general do not bother me, so if you’re eating Low FODMAP or for gut health and feel the same way, these pretzels should be no problem for you! I wanted to make something that worked with the sourdough starter I’ve kept alive successfully for about 5 months now. I polled my friends – bagels or pretzels – and pretzels won in an absolute landslide!
Now, fair warning: This is a two-day process, so make sure you make these when you feel like you have enough time to do so.
Recipe: Low FODMAP (and Vegan!) Sourdough Soft Pretzels
- 1 cup sourdough starter
- 1 1/4 cups warm water
- 3 1/2 cups bread flour (I used King Arthur) – plus extra flour for day 2
- 1 tbsp cane sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp salt
- 2 quarts water
- 1/3 cup baking soda
- Bob’s Red Mill egg replacer OR melted Earth Balance
- Toppings – Salt, everything seasoning (if garlic and onion are OK for you), cinnamon/sugar mix, etc.
- Stand mixer with dough hook and paddle attachments
- Parchment paper
- Sheet pans (I used 2)
- Olive oil or other cooking oil – spray and oil are good
- Brush for applying oil and wash
Day 1 – Estimated time: 3-5 hours
- Put 1 cup of starter in the bowl of the stand mixer, followed by the warm water. Mix together on low using the paddle attachment until combined.
- Slowly add 2 cups of flour to this mix. You can pour in as the stand mixer is going on low, or stop it and add it in 3 portions. Don’t overmix this part – wait until it’s just combined.
- Remove the bowl and cover for 30-60 minutes.
- Now that your mix has been sitting for a while, it’s time to add the rest of the flour (1 1/2 cups), sugar, and salt. Use the dough hook attachment to mix this all together on a medium speed for about 5 minutes. The dough should be cohesive and will be mostly on the hook by the end. Lightly grease another bowl (I poured a small amount of olive oil in one and brushed it around). Set the dough in and then flip to coat with some oil. Let it all sit for 30 minutes.
- The next step involves folding in and flipping the dough a few times. The process will work the same every time – Lift the dough out of the bowl, fold the four corners inward, and flip the whole thing over. You’re going to do this a total of 4 times. So, after that first 30 minutes of sitting, pick it up, fold it in, and flip it. Let it sit for 30 more minutes and repeat the process. Next, repeat the process after 60 minutes. Finally, do it one more time after 60 more minutes. If the dough is looking springy and lively by this point, you’re done for the day. If not, you can leave out for another hour or two before refrigerating. You’re going to put this in the fridge overnight.
Day 2 – Estimated time: 2 – 2.5 hours
- Take the dough out of the refrigerator. I have 2 smaller sheet pans, so I put parchment paper on both of those, poured a small amount of oil in the middle, and brushed it around to prep.
- Take the dough out of the bowl and put on a floured surface. This recipe makes 12 smaller soft pretzels, so cut the dough into 12 pieces. What I found to be easy was to use a dough scraper to cut the pieces – I started by splitting the dough in half lengthwise, then cut those pieces in half and then thirds. The segments came out fairly evenly.
- Now comes the fun part. Roll these pieces of dough out – You could use the Play-Doh snake method if you want, or roll with your hands on the floured surface. I used a little of both. You want these to come out to be about 2 feet long. Then you twist – form into a U shape, twist the ends together twice, and then lay over the U shape. (Full disclosure, I only twisted once and not twice this first time, and they did turn out fine, but you SHOULD twist them twice as per official pretzel protocol).
- Let the pretzels sit for an hour, covered with plastic wrap sprayed with cooking oil.
- Preheat the oven to 475 degrees and get the water boiling – about 2 quarts of water in a large pot with 1/3 cup of baking soda. Once the water’s boiling, you can start dropping in the pretzels. This is what I found to be successful – Place 2 pretzels in the boiling water at a time. Once they float, flip and let them boil on the other side for a few extra seconds. Then take a spatula and remove them, placing them back on the oiled parchment paper. I saw somewhere to do 10 seconds on each side, and for some of them, I may have done a bit longer. Just make sure not to over-boil, because they’ll start to puff up and lose form.
- Once all of your pretzels are boiled, it’s time to prep them for the oven. To make the recipe vegan, I used Bob’s Red Mill egg replacer. I prepped enough for 2 eggs, but really, would have been fine with just one. You could also melt some Earth Balance or butter of your choice, or use egg for a more traditional wash if you aren’t vegan. Brush on all of the pretzels. Then add your toppings. We did sea salt on some (which keeps them Low FODMAP) and Everything But the Bagel seasoning on others (which does contain garlic & onion, so if you are sensitive, use something else). You could top with coarse salt, sesame seeds, cinnamon & sugar mix – let your imagination run wild!
- Put in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes. We have a pretty uneven oven, so the bottom was taking a lot longer to bake. I put some in for longer and let them get a bit darker brown on the bottom – they ended up being crunchier in the end. I would opt for a lighter brown with a chewier texture, but do what feels right to you! These pretzels were perfect fresh out of the oven with some mustard.