The following recipe has been adapted from Healthy Foods for Hungry Kids, published by Better Homes and Gardens, 1987. These pretzels are a staple in our household; every few weeks I make a batch and my son has them for a snack along with some apple juice in the afternoon. They are perfect for a child who loves to help cook, and though they are somewhat time-consuming, they are not overly difficult and the taste is well worth the effort!
2 – 2 ½ c unbleached white flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 ½ c milk
¼ c natural cane sugar
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
½ tsp salt
2 c whole wheat flour
¼ c chopped sunflower nuts
1 slightly beaten egg white
1 Tbsp water
¼ c chopped sunflower nuts
In a large bowl, combine 1 ½ cups of the white flour and yeast. Heat the milk, sugar, oil and salt until warm in a saucepan; add to flour and yeast. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, followed by high speed for 3 minutes. Stir in the whole wheat flour, sunflower nuts, and as much of the white flour as needed to form a solid dough. For the sunflower seeds, I buy a pack of roasted sunflower kernels, and pour half into a plastic baggie, which should be about ½ cup total. Then I crush the nuts with a rolling pin, and pour about ¾ into the dough, rather than half. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 6-8 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball and turn once in a lightly greased bowl; cover and let rise until double, about an hour and a half. For my dough, I turn on the oven to warm and turn it off and put a pot of boiling water on the bottom rack; then I cover the bowl with a damp towel. This keeps the air moist and warm and provides a good environment in which the dough can rise.
Punch down the dough and recover it; let it rest for ten minutes. Turn it out onto a floured surface and roll into a rectangle, about 12 x 10 inches. You will need to cut the rectangle into twenty even strips (I only make 18 some weeks); a pizza cutter is an invaluable tool and if you have one, it will make the process a lot easier. Have two greased baking sheets nearby and preheat your oven to 475° F. To form a pretzel, take one strip and lengthen it until you have a rope about 16 inches long- just think making a snake with playdough. You can form your twists whichever way is easiest for you; I hold mine in the air by the middle with the ends hanging down an even amount, take the ends and twist them twice, then fold the twists over the loop. You’ll have to give it a shot a few times before you get the method down, but once you do it is easy as can be. Kids will love helping make the twists! Place each pretzel on the baking sheet as it is formed. Bake in the oven for 3-4 minutes, and then reduce the heat to 350° F.
Prepare a pot of boiling water, about three quarts. Place three pretzels in the water at a time; boil for one minute each side, then remove to a rack to drip dry a bit. Return to the cookie sheets. Mix together the egg white and water; brush onto each pretzel and sprinkle with the remaining sunflower nuts. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until a nice golden brown. These freeze very well and you can reheat them just as you would a boxed variety from the grocery store; enjoy!