October 5, 2009

What Does a Pretzel Look Like?

H.C. loves pretzels. We go through at least a 1 lb bag a week and I don’t eat them. Pretzels are brown so they look “natural” and “healthy” but they are 100% white flour and a lot of sodium. Contrary to what this might sound like, I am really not the food police…ask anyone how many jelly beans I can put down. But, I sometimes feel guilty about buying that many pretzels for H.C. to consume.

So, I decided to play with the Alton Brown's recipe and come up with a whole wheat version. I chickened out trying 100% whole wheat but 2 cups of WW flour and the rest bread dough made for wonderful dough that held together well. They baked up well, were chewy in the center, had a nice crust, and were a robust color. I heartily recommend this adaptation.

I confess, there was a touch of smugness as I worked the dough by hand (no dough hook for this yeasty person!) And then I rolled out the first rope and it dawned on me, “What does a pretzel look like?” I think I shaped the first one 4-5 times before it came close. It took 2 more “trials” to master sealing the ends of the rope to the bottom of the arc so it didn’t unravel in the boiling water. Then 3 more trials to figure out that the dough needed to be shaped on a cookie sheet and then turned upside down on a wide spatula that had to be submerged in the boiling water before the pretzel dough would release from the utensil. I started to sweat. I only had two more blobs of dough. I needed one good one for a picture. I had already reneged on my commitment to the group by not making the chocolate cake. Would eCoven vote me out with strike two? Would I bring shame to the Lovely Lady Baker and to the Townsend family as a whole? (Overdramatic perhaps,but similar thoughts filtered through the flour dust in my head.)

In the end, I posed my best effort, camouflaged the rejects in a mound and attempted angle shots in an effort to replicate some of the artistic pictures some of you have produced. The woman who lives with us sat and watched me for over a half hour and finally commented, “I have never seen you act like this.” Then she wrote down, “Dana taking pictures of pretzels on the deck” and dated it. The heading of her list: “Dana having fun.”


  1. They look great! So glad you got a chance to post. We would never kick you out either. I'm going to have to try Alton's recipe next time with some wheat flour. Sounds tasty.

    ~Lady Baker

  2. Kudos on a fantastic post, Dana!