Delicious pumpkin is a healthy addition to any dish. Whether it’s Cinnamon-Sugar Pumpkin Donuts or Cheesy Pumpkin Mac and Cheese, it tastes terrific and has significant nutritional benefits. In Cooking with Pumpkin (The Countryman Press, 2014), by Averie Sunshine, contains more than 75 recipes to inspire and nourish home cooks. This Recipe for Pumpkin Pretzels is from the Chapter, “Savory: Sides, Soups, and Starters.”
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If you struggle with willpower, one of the most dangerous places to be is the food court at the mall. Everywhere you turn, there’s something tempting—fresh chocolate chip cookies, big cinnamon rolls, and soft, buttery pretzels. Now you don’t have to go to the mall tobe tempted. You can make your own mall-style soft pretzels at home.
This is an easy yeast dough that’s a dream to work with—smooth, supple, and not at all sticky.
I eliminated the step of boiling the pretzels before baking to streamline things for newer bread makers, and built in a make-ahead option in case you want to start the dough one day and bake pretzels the next.
The pumpkin serves to keep the pretzels soft, moist, and tender. It lends a vibrant shade of orange to the dough rather than imparting much flavor. Think of it as a way to work in some vegetables—or fruit, technically—along with the carbs. You’ll thank me later that I capped the batch size at six, because these pretzels are irresistible. Serve them as is or with your favorite dips or condiments. Or get creative and take them in a different direction, sweet or savory (see Variations).
• 1/2 cup milk for dissolving yeast
• 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
• 1/4-ounce packet instant dry yeast (2-1/4 teaspoons)
• 1 egg
• 1/2 cup pumpkin purée
• 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil, or melted butter
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (see note), plus more for flouring work surface
• 1/4 cup + melted salted or unsalted butter for brushing, divided
• Kosher or sea salt for sprinkling, to taste
Note: Bread flour may be substituted; it will produce a higher-rising dough and chewier pretzels. If using bread flour, you may need slightly less than if using all-purpose. All-purpose creates softer, more tender pretzels, and that’s what I prefer.
1. Heat the milk according to temperature indicated on package for yeast you’re using (temps will likely range from 100 degrees F to 130 degrees F, depending on brand; about 30 to 45 seconds in the microwave). In the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a large mixing bowl and wooden spoon), combine the warm milk and sugar, and sprinkle the yeast over it. Allow it to proof, getting bubbly and foamy, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the egg, pumpkin, oil, and salt, and mix briefly with the paddle attachment on low speed to combine, about 1 minute.
3. Add 2-1/2 cups flour and switch to the dough hook when dough comes together and can be kneaded (or knead by hand). Knead for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until smooth and elastic; this is not a sticky dough and should be smooth.
4. Turn dough out into a large mixing bowl coated with cooking spray, turning dough over once to grease the top.
5. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 2½ to 3 hours.
6. Prepare two baking sheets by lining them with nonstick baking mats or spraying with cooking spray; set aside.
7. Punch dough down; turn out onto a lightly floured surface (I use a nonstick baking mat and don’t need any flour).
8. Divide into 6 equally sized portions.
9. With your hands, roll each portion of dough into a long, thin rope, 24 to 28 inches long, and twist each rope into a pretzel. When forming the pretzels, I envision making a heart, with a twist in the middle, and drape the ends loosely over the opposite side.
10. Place three pretzels on each of the two prepared baking sheets. Cover with plastic wrap and allow pretzels to rise in a warm, draft-free place until nearly doubled, about 1 hour.
11. In the final minutes of rising, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (If using the oven as a rising place, make sure to remove pretzels from oven before you preheat.)
12. Before baking, liberally brush pretzels with melted butter; reserve remainder.
13. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they’re golden, puffed, and done. I prefer softer pretzels and bake for 10 minutes; for firmer pretzels, bake longer.
14. After baking, immediately brush pretzels with reserved melted butter. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
15. Serve immediately, either as is or with mustard (Dijon, hot, honey, spicy), horseradish, cream cheese, or hummus (see Pumpkin Hummus Recipe with Chipotle Seasoning). Pretzels are best warm and fresh, but will keep airtight for up to 48 hours. I quickly zap them in the microwave before eating leftovers.
Tip: For a make-ahead option, after the first rise and punch-down, form a ball with the dough, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 48 hours. When ready to bake, pick up the recipe starting with rolling the dough into long ropes, and continue from there.
Boost the pumpkin flavor by sprinkling with pumpkin pie spice after baking.
For cinnamon-sugar pretzels, omit the kosher salt finishing sprinkle and dredge freshly baked and buttered pretzels in a cinnamon-sugar mixture.
Play up the savory element by brushing with garlic butter or herbed butter.
More from Cooking with Pumpkin:
This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from Cooking with Pumpkin by Averie Sunshine and published by The Countryman Press, 2014.