Making homemade pretzels is a fun winter’s day project that is simpler than it appears. These pretzels, recently featured in an issue of Eating Well magazine are made with extra-virgin olive oil and light rye flour for a healthier pretzel. The light rye flour adds a subtle malt, or pleasant but slight sour flavor and creates a denser pretzel then just using only all-purpose flour. These pretzels call for instant dry yeast instead of using active dry yeast. The smaller instant dry yeast particles don’t require the yeast to be “bloomed” in warm water, activate faster and can be added directly to the dry ingredients. Serve these delicious pretzels with a big pot of soup, chili or with your favorite mustard for a great snack!
In a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine all-purpose flour, rye flour, yeast and salt. Add the honey, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 1 1/2 cups water. Mix on a low speed until well combined, for about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium and knead for 5 minutes. The dough will start to come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and shape into a ball. Coat a large bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, add the dough and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and set aside in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 1 hour or so.
Position racks in middle and upper thirds of the oven. Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Coat 2 large baking sheets with cooking spray. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and divide into 12 pieces. To make each pretzel, roll a piece of dough into a 22-inch-long rope and make a U-shape (You might need a little flour on your hands). Lift the ends, twist them completely around each other once and place the ends over the bottom part of the pretzel.
Combine the baking soda with the 3 cups water in a medium bowl. Submerge each pretzel for 10 seconds, then transfer to a clean kitchen towel and pat dry. Arrange the pretzels on the prepared pans. Brush with egg and sprinkle with the course salt or pretzel salt. Bake the pretzels, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes.