This past weekend, my boyfriend took on a relay bicycle race with a team of our friends. It was long and hard work, and his challenge has really inspired me to find some challenges of my own. It also made me want to make them some food for all those calories they were burning. I figured carbo loading made sense so I whipped up a batch of vegan soft pretzels.
Minus the rise time the pretzels are pretty quick to make and easier than they look. It’s a perfect Saturday morning activity and would also be great to make with kids – have them make up pretzel twists and shapes of their own!
- 2 ¼ tsp yeast
- 1 cup almond milk or other dairy-free milk
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 5 tbsp Earth Balance buttery sticks
- 1 tsp salt
- ⅓ cup baking soda
- 3 cups water
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ cup sugar
Warm the milk on the stove until it’s around 110 degrees (or nuke it if you’d prefer). Pour in the yeast and stir. Let it sit for a couple of minutes and then add in the brown sugar, 1 cup of flour, and 2 tablespoons of melted Earth Balance, and stir again until well incorporated. Then put in the rest of the flour along with the salt and mix until you get a tacky dough. Flour your hands a bit if the dough is too tacky to handle and shape the dough into a ball. Knead the dough on a slightly floured surface until smooth but not too dry, make sure there’s still some tackiness to it. This should take 4-5 minutes.
Grease a large bowl with some cooking spray and place in the kneaded dough. Cover with a towel and let rise for 1 hour. If it’s cold outside and the dough is slow to rise, you can put your oven on “Warm” for a couple minutes, turn it off, and let the dough rise in there. Obviously not something that comes in handy during the summer months, but who doesn’t love warm pretzels in the winter?
About 40 minutes into the dough rising, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Once the dough is ready, give it a punch and place it on your lightly-floured counter or other surface. Now you need to divide the dough, and it really depends on how big you want your pretzels. I cut mine into 8 pieces and made pretzels slightly smaller than Auntie Anne’s but bigger than those hard sourdough pretzels. If you want longer ones, cut the dough into 6 pieces using a serrated knife.
This part was my most favorite. Pretend you’re in preschool again and roll out the dough on the counter or roll in between your hands like you’re stretching out Play-Doh into a snake shape. Form into a pretzel (think upside down horseshoe and then cross the ends) and set on a piece of wax or parchment paper. Once all the pretzels are twisted, you need to dip them in a baking soda solution.
Take ⅓ cup of baking soda and mix with 3 cups warm water. Make sure to stir it really well and stir after every pretzel or two because the baking soda tends to settle on the bottom. Dip the pretzel in and place on a cookie sheet lined with sprayed parchment paper. Put the finished pretzels into the oven for about 10-11 minutes or until they’re light brown.
Melt the rest of the Earth Balance and brush onto the freshly-baked pretzels. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture and inhale.
If you want to have a traditional salted pretzel, still brush the pretzels with Earth Balance but replace the cinnamon sugar with coarse salt. Easy peasy.