Friday, January 21, 2011


Someone brought a three-pound bag of pretzels to church Sunday as part of the fellowship snack, and that got Samantha and I talking about making some. None of us can have pretzels. Sam and Dona are supposed to stay away from refined grains, and I can't have wheat, so pretzels are complete no-nos. Sam told me she really liked the soft pretzels with cheese sauce. I told her that we would find a recipe and make some soft pretzels that afternoon or evening. Well, I looked and found some good recipes, or at least some that looked promising. I decided to compare them to Alton Brown's recipe on Food Network, since I like him and he seems to know what he's doing. I found a recipe and, with some minor changes, we made it work.

Soft Pretzels
  •  Four teaspoons yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • Drop of Agave Nectar
  • Dash of Salt
Mix these together and let rest while you work on mixing the dry ingredients.
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 cup garbanzo bean flour
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • 4 teaspoons xanthan gum
Mix dry ingredients together with a whisk. Garbanzo bean, tapioca flour, and potato starch all are lumpy, and I use a whisk to get the lumps out. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix with a spoon or by hand until the dough is well-combined. This dough, like the French Bread Rolls wasn't too sticky to handle. I was able to roll them out on the table into ropes about a foot long.* If you are feeling fancy you can make them into the classic pretzel shape. I was able to get them to stick together fairly well, but from the picture at the top you can tell not all of them stayed. Use a bit of water to get the ends to stay.

This dough gets dry fairly quickly, though, so have a bowl of water handy and VERY LIGHTLY moisten opposite sides of your rope. I dipped my finger in the water and ran it down the length of the rope. Tapioca flour and potato starch are very gooey if you get them too wet. Xanthan gum is just plain slimy when wet. If you get too much water, you could try drying your hands or roll it on the table a bit, and the water will work into the dough. You might have to mash your rope down and try again, though, if it's too sticky.

Lay them out on a cookie sheet covered with a layer of parchment paper. Put your pretzels in a warm place and let them rise for a half hour to an hour.
  • 8 cups water
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
Pour the baking soda into the water and bring to a rolling boil. Boil each pretzel for 30 seconds to a minute, and try to turn them over so both sides get boiled. Put them back on the parchment-covered cookie sheet and brush with an egg wash (1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of water). Sprinkle with salt or garlic salt and bake at 450 degrees for 14 minutes. They turned out quite good.

*The original recipe calls for you to allow the dough to rise before beating it down and making the pretzels. I'm sure there might be a good reason for it, but I rarely let my non-wheat flour baking rise more than once. I have a hard enough time getting it to rise the one time, let alone trying to get it to rise a second time. I read a recipe from someone somewhere that I trusted but now can't remember, who talked about only having gluten-free bread raise once. It works for me.

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