Every once in a while we all meet someone we identify with. That person who seems to think like you, eat like you, enjoy the same things you do, and well, seems like someone you'd wish they were your next door neighbor. Substitute the name, "Erin", for the word "someone", and you have the person I'm talking about.
Today, I have the humble pleasure of introducing you to Erin, The Law Student's Wife. With a fabulous Guest Post, Erin brings one of her wonderful treats to Liv Life, one which Liv is asking me to bake as I type.
Reminding me of a much "cooler" version of myself at her age (I used to be Kim, the Jr. Pilot's Wife), Erin describes her soul as being comprised of 78% dark chocolate ganache. While I know not everyone will swoon over that description, that alone makes her near perfect in my book. Add to that the fact that she wore red shoes at her wedding, bakes a mean Cinnamon Roll, and strives to produce budget friendly as well as healthy meals, and I'm wishing she lived next door.
With personality plus showing in her writing, Erin's blog takes us on her travels as well as brings a delightful dose of humor to her posts. The extraordinary food she produces is simply a bonus. Given her beautiful verve for living Erin reminds me of my Liv, and she definitely exemplifies our mantra to "Liv Life". Please give Erin a warm welcome as we take a moment to enjoy her mouthwatering Pretzels!
This is Erin from The Law Student’s Wife, and I am thrilled to be guest posting for Kim today. I discovered Liv Life a few months ago and immediately related to Kim’s holistic recipes, love of travel, and liberal use of peanut butter. Also, as a new wife on a mission to sneak vegetables into her husband’s food (it’s not just kids who fight the greens!) I appreciate Kim’s creative uses of healthy ingredients. Plus, isn’t she just a wonderful person?
Although you and I have only just “met,” I suspect this is the beginning of a beautiful (invisible) friendship. Let’s make a day of it and head to mall for some bonding time. Forget Macy’s, Old Navy, and Forever 21—we have a more important destination: the food court!
Before my parents turned me loose with a set of keys and my dad’s rusty old GMC Yukon, my friends and I spent our adolescent afternoons roaming the local mall. Each trip featured three mandatory stops: Claire’s (cheap jewelry reigned supreme), Bath and Body Works (my then-scent of choice: Sun-Ripened Raspberry), and Auntie Anne’s Pretzels (heaven!). Our mothers would pick us up three hours later, no doubt wondering why we smelled of mixed fruit basket and butter.
Now, when I enter the mall food court, the majestic scent of an Auntie Anne’s pretzel transports me to a simpler time when my most pressing decision was which shoes to wear to with my homecoming dress and no one talked about carbs. Since proper shoe selection still eludes me, and I will never, ever break up with carbs (true love lasts a lifetime), I hope you will join me in my Auntie Anne’s nostalgia with a chewy, tender Soft Whole Wheat Raisin Pretzel.
Though this Soft Whole Wheat Raisin Pretzel recipe is inspired by the classic Auntie Anne’s offering, I have updated it to fit the busy life of an at-home cook. Total rise time is a quick 10 minutes (just long enough to add a second coat of nail polish, text your sister, and pour yourself a glass of wine); a golden egg wash replaces the fuss of soaking the pretzel in a baking soda solution (typical of many soft pretzel recipes); and the recipe uses 100% whole wheat flour (powerful fiber to fuel our day.)
Originally I had planned to add a sweet cream-cheese glaze to mimic the Glazin’ Raisin—my Auntie Anne’s long-standing pretzel of choice—but these Soft Whole Wheat Raisin Pretzels are so phenomenal without it, I decided to omit. We found them to be tastiest with a smidge of softened butter or a smear of peanut butter, but if you would like to add a sweet glaze, this is a lovely one.
After baking Soft Whole Wheat Raisin Pretzels, I wandered around my apartment, trying to complete daily chores (clean the bathroom mirror, fold the laundry, watch another episode of Downton Abbey), yet continually gravitated back to the zip-top bag where I had the soft pretzels stored to snitch one last bite. Save yourself time: Whether your are looking for a healthy breakfast, satisfying snack, or midnight treat, take the entire pretzel immediately, settle in with a big glass of milk or a cup of coffee, and enjoy your Soft Whole Wheat Raisin Pretzel in style.
It’s a pleasure to share this Soft Whole Wheat Raisin Pretzel with all of you! Hope to connect with you again soon.
Erin, The Law Student’s Wife
Soft Whole Wheat Raisin Pretzels
Recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
1 and 1/2 cups warm water (100-110 degrees F)
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons vital gluten*
3/4 cup raisins
1 and 1/2 to 2 cups whole wheat flour
1 large egg
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Set aside two baking sheets covered in parchment paper or a silpat mat.
Plump the Raisins: Place raisins in a small bowl, then cover with boiling water. Let stand 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Make the Dough: In a large bowl (or the bowl of stand mixer), combine the warm water, yeast, and sugar. Stir and let sit for 1 minute. The yeast should be foamy. (If it is not, the yeast did not activate properly and this step must be repeated). Stir in the kosher salt and orange zest.
With a wooden spoon (or the mixer’s paddle attachment), slowly stir in 1 cup of the white whole wheat flour, then the vital wheat gluten, then the remaining 1 cup of the white whole wheat flour. Stir in plumped raisins.
Stir in 1 cup regular whole wheat flour. From here, continue to stir in whole wheat flour, a few tablespoons at a time, until the dough is no longer sticky and bounces back when poked. (I used 8 tablespoons—1/2 cup—additional whole wheat flour total).
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface (or switch to your mixer’s dough hook). Knead for 5 minutes and form into a ball. Lightly coat a large bowl with cooking spray. Place the dough into the bowl, turn to coat, and let dough rise for 10 minutes.
Once dough has puffed, lightly flour a knife and cut the dough into 4 equal parts. Then, cut those 4 parts into 2 parts each. No need to be exact about this: use any amount of dough to create whatever size of pretzel you wish.
Roll each piece into a rope of even diameter (the longer the rope, the larger your pretzel will be. I rolled mine to be 16 inches.)
To form the pretzel, lay the rope horizontally, then pick up each end and draw them upwards as if you were forming a circle, cross the ends, then draw them down to form a pretzel shape. Lightly press the dough ends to hold the shape.
In a shallow bowl or pie dish, beat the egg and with 1 teaspoon of water to create an egg wash. Dip each entire pretzel into the egg wash and coat both sides. Place each pretzel on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven to broil for 3 minutes to brown pretzel tops. Watch closely to prevent burning. Let cool slightly.
*Ingredient Note: Gluten is the component of flour responsible for the stretchiness of dough and for the shapes that baked goods hold. Since whole-wheat flour is heavier than its white counterparts, adding vital gluten gives the dough an extra boost to create a light and fluffy pretzel. Look for vital gluten in the baking aisle of larger grocery stores or any specialty food store. You may also omit the vital gluten from the recipe entirely, but replace 1 cup of the whole-wheat white flour with all-purpose (or bread) flour to ensure your pretzels have a nice texture.
Storage Tips: Place pretzels in an airtight container or zipped-top bag for up to 4 days (though they will lose some softness) or wrap tightly in plastic and freeze for up to one month.