Monday, August 22, 2011

Queen of Knots - Gluten Free Chewy Soft Pretzels

I have a confession...

More recipes are flops than successes.  A lot of them are edible, but don't make it to the blog because I'm also neurotic a bit of a perfectionist.  And, as the cliche says, we are our worst critics.  So, when my almond pound cake didn't work out quite as beautifully as I hoped, it ended up in bellies instead of blogs.

But, I have another confession.  When things work out... really, really work out?  I am downright giddy.

Today - it worked out. 

It really worked.

We've been planning a massive road trip.  For those of us who have to be conscious of allergens, that often means two things.  1: research.  research.  research.  2: planning, and packing, a ton of food.

Fortunately, we've found several restaurants that will meet our family's needs.  But, we will also be planning, and packing, many of our meals.  While brainstorming recently, my 7 year old asked if we could bring pretzels.  "Not the crunchy kind, mom.  You know, the smooooooshy soft kind with the salt on the outside?"

I told her I'd try.

Recipe development can be an expensive thing.  Gluten Free flours are not cheap.  But, through Amazon subscribe and save, I can get my favorite for about $10 a bag.  That's not bad.  

We received a shipment last week and I've gone through a bag and a half already.  (See aforementioned pound cake)  Today made it all worthwhile.

Queen of Knots Gluten Free Smoooooshy Soft Pretzels
for Piper

1 tsp kosher salt
2 packets of yeast
2 TBSP sugar
2/3 cup water
2 eggs
2 packets unflavored gelatin, softened in 1/2 cup of cold water

2 TBSP olive oil

2/3 c baking soda
10 cups of water

Mix 2/3 C water, both packages of yeast, and 2 TBSP sugar and set aside to proof.

Place the dough hook on your stand mixer (or a dough blade on a cuisinart).  

In the bowl, mix together flour, salt, gelatin, yeast, and eggs. 

"Knead" with the mixer until the dough is combined and smooth.

Take dough by the handful and smooth into a uniform ball.  Lightly dust the surface with flour and roll out into about a 10" length, half an inch around.  (Think play-doh snakes).

Twist the ends and press them back down in a pretzel shape or leave them as sticks.  (You can "glue" the ends down with a little beaten egg or water).  

 Lay the finished pretzels on a silpat (or parchment) lined sheet pan.  Once all the pretzels are formed, brush the surfaces with olive oil.  Cover with damp towel and let rise (approximately 30 minutes).

Preheat oven to 325°

Mix 10 cups of water with 2/3 cup baking soda and bring to a simmer.

Carefully drop each pretzel into the soda bath for a minute, turning halfway.

Remove to the lined baking sheet.  Complete until all are par-boiled.

Sprinkle with salt, sesame, or poppy seeds (I used kosher salt).

Bake for 12 minutes.  

Try not to burn your mouth!

**gluten adaptation for Brooke:
Substitute 3 cups all-purpose flour and omit gelatin/water mixture.  :)


We re-made the recipe today and I decided to do a little troubleshooting, to see what could have gone wrong with Charlotte's batch.  Here is what I learned:

It is essential to add enough flour so that the dough is no longer sticky.  It's raining today, and it wasn't the first time, so humidity plays a role.  Additionally, you may need to add up to a cup to your dough to get it to a point where you can "snake" the dough.  A heavy dusting on the board/counter is important.

Also, when you first grab a handful of dough to form it into shape, press out any extra air.  The longer the dough sat, the more yeast reacted, the more airy it was.  This will make the pretzels fall apart as well.

In the soda bath stage, using a big spatula with holes or a spider (for frying foods) helps to flip them more gently without pulling.  They are very delicate, so be careful.  Something that keeps them flat is great.  That said, I did it today without flipping at all.  The soda bath bubbles up and over the pretzels and seems to work just fine.  30 seconds seems to work as well as one minute, so you can also cut the boil time.

After placing on the cookie sheet for baking, brush with an egg yolk, beaten with about a teaspoon of water.  Then add the salt.  This makes it brown beautifully.

I hope this helps!


  1. Yay! I tried the gluten free girl soft pretzels, and I was really disappointed. These look better, and I am excited to try them!

  2. Let me know, if you do! They're a tad on the sweet side, because Pamela's flour has a little sweetness to it. But, we loved them. Even with mustard! Next time, I'll try brushing melted earth balance and some cinnamon sugar.

  3. These sounds so great! My hubby misses soft pretzels more than anything.

    I've tried to subscribe but it won't let me...any ideas? :)


  4. Tried these, and they were a disaster. During the par-boiling stage, the dough essentially dissolved -- and this was in barely simmering water.

    I tried par-boiling four, and spared the rest that fate and baked them as-is. They were edible, but I won't make them again.

    1. I had pretty much the same problem:(

  5. I made these and they were considered a huge success. If you want the salt to stay on (and to get a really nice color) I suggest brushing some egg whites on the pretzels before baking.

  6. Nice! I have a Gluten Free Pretzel of my own (Philly Chick Here) but most definitely gong to have to try yours. I am intrigued by the gelation addition.
    Extraordinary Life

  7. Charlotte - I'm sorry you had trouble. Pretzels do have a bit of a learning curve. So many things can go wrong. I'm going to test the recipe again today (by request from the kidlets) and I'll let you know if I can't get it to work again.

  8. Added a new troubleshooting message to the bottom of this post. :)