There are very few items on my gluten-free wish list- products I used to love as a gluten-eating kid that I long for now. However, topping that list is the ever elusive soft pretzel. Thick, chewy, and dotted with course salt, nothing quite satisfies like one of these doughy treats, especially when dipped in mustard- a la ballpark style.
I found bakery-made soft pretzels in Philadelphia on my visit a couple years back, which filled the gap, but also were a rare treat I couldn't enjoy all the time. I've tried frozen offerings here and there to no avail and am terrified by gluten-free soft pretzel recipes I see online that call for dozens upon dozens of ingredients in multiple, complex steps.
However, when I stumbled across Dutch Country gluten-free soft pretzel mix at Jungle Jim's Market in Cincinnati, my hopes were suddenly renewed. Could this simple-to-make mix be the answer to my years long search for gluten-free soft pretzels? As one of my most anticipated product reviews during baking month, I couldn't wait to roll up my sleeves and put the mix to the test.
What's really cool about these soft pretzels is that they have minimal ingredients, and require only water and oil to transform into dough. The mix is dairy-free, and also allergen-free, but does contain corn.
Once combining all the ingredients, I let the dough rise for an hour to let the yeast work its magic, which it did in an impressive fashion. Once risen, I took handful-sized globs of dough and rolled them out and wrestled them into pretzel-like shape. It was a labor intensive, oily affair, but I was able to make nine thick, full-sized pretzels. The trick is to spray the surface you are working on with oil and roll the pretzels really carefully because they break easily. I started dipping the pretzels in a baking soda-water bath, but soon skipped the full dunking opting instead to brush the pretzel with the solution to skip the step and minimize the mess I was making. I sprinkled on some salt for taste, and popped them in the oven.
I really should have dunked the pretzels into the baking soda bath because they browned really unevenly, which made it hard to judge when to pull them out- definitely a lesson learned for my next baking attempt. I pulled them out after fifteen minutes or so- longer than the recommended eight minutes because my oven temperature is always off.
Despite the aesthetic unevenness, I was really proud of the finished pretzels. They were oh, so adorable and I couldn't help but break off a piece right out of the oven to try. The interior is soft and chewy, with a touch of buttery flavor- exactly what a soft pretzel should be. The crust is crispy in the browner parts, lesser so in the less-brown parts, but is thin and not too hard. I was sparing with the salt, but probably should have been less so, because I found the pretzels to be less salty than I would have liked.
Overall, the pretzels exceeded my expectations spectacularly. They were warm, soft, and doughy and needed only some mustard (which I unfortunately did not have on hand). As I munched on them, I dreamed of the possibilities of future baking attempts- cinnamon sugar pretzels, garlic pretzels, and even a pizza crust. I definitely will be purchasing this product again, and definitely know that it has earned a spot on my new favorite products of the year without a doubt. While they may be labor intensive, they are a labor of love and worth the time and effort invested into making them.
To read more about Dutch Country and their gluten-free pretzel mixes and pre-baked options, click here.
Disclaimer: This review is current to the original publication date. Updates will be noted. Ingredients and manufacturing processes can change without notice. Each product should be reviewed for individual nutritional needs. Feel free to to contact me with any questions or comments. I purchased this product independently and the review is a reflection of my personal opinion.