Is it now safe for us to say that I have a bit of a thing for pretzels? I’ve done them savory with avocado (<- link), somewhere ambiguously in-between with a pumpkin version, and now we’re going into dessert territory, with peanut butter banana soft pretzels from scratch.
Originally, this was going to be a top secret recipe that I hoarded away until Valentine’s Day. See how they are haphazardly shaped into little hearts? Kinda cute, right? Well (not pictured) I made some pomegranate juice-infused sea salt that was a gorgeous bright pink color, and that was what these were supposed to be topped with, to really take the cuteness over the top and be super Valentine’s Day-appropriate. Trust me, if you knew my partner J, you would know that not many gifts would be more romantic to him than some kind of homemade baked good. He loves anything involving bread. Or salt.
Unfortunately, when I started brushing the pomegranate salt (which was inspired by these fabulous-looking, but non-vegan cookies by Top with Cinnamon), onto the dough, it experienced some kind of reaction with the baking soda. The surface of the pretzels turned a lovely brownish-purple color. So yeah. The first tray that went into the oven, while delicious, was a little unsightly. Luckily I still had half of them to top with regular salt as well as a maple-almond milk wash for a ridiculous salty-sweet combo.
If you’re like me and don’t have a big sweet tooth, then these banana soft pretzels are a great dessert choice – there’s a bit of natural sweetness, but no added sugar in the dough, so it comes nowhere near the cloyingly sweet cinnamon sugar pretzels of my past.
- ¼ c. plain, unsweetened nondairy milk
- 1 tb. active dry yeast (or 1 package)
- 1 tb. maple syrup (any grade)
- ¾ c. plain, unsweetened nondairy milk
- 2 medium bananas, mashed
- ¼ c. natural peanut butter
- 2 c. whole wheat flour
- 1 c. all-purpose flour (more for kneading if needed)
- 1 tsp. salt (only if peanut butter is unsalted)
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- a pinch of ground nutmeg
- 5 tb. baking soda
- 5 c. water
- 1 tb. maple syrup
- 1 tsp. canola oil (optional, gives a crispier crust)
- 1 tb. plain, unsweetened nondairy milk
- ⅛ tsp. ground cinnamon
- coarse salt
- Warm all of the nondairy milk to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It should feel warm or even hot if you stick your finger in it, but not so hot that you need to take your finger out. Stir the first ¼ c. of milk gently together with the yeast and maple syrup in a small bowl and set aside for at least 10 minutes, or until foamy.
- Add the mashed banana along with the rest of the ¾ cup of warm milk and the peanut butter; mix together well, until the peanut butter is incorporated into the liquid. Add the yeast mixture, flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir together with wooden spoon until a lumpy dough starts to form. Use your hands to press the mixture together, and transfer it onto a surface.
- Knead for 5-10 minutes, adding as little additional flour as possible, until the dough is smooth and has visible gluten strands when you pull on it.
- Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with a damp towel, then let rise in a warm place for 90 minutes or until doubled in size. Alternately, cover tightly with plastic wrap, then a towel, and rise overnight in the refrigerator; bring back to room temperature before continuing with the next step.
- Set the baking soda and water in a saucepan to boil.
- Prepare two baking sheets lined with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Grab golf ball-sized pieces of dough and roll them between your hands to make long ropes; shape into pretzels (there will be about 12 of them).
- Boil each pretzel in the baking soda mixture for about 15 seconds, or until it floats back to the top. Remove using a slotted spoon and place on the baking sheet. Repeat until all pretzels are boiled.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, oil, milk, cinnamon, and coarse salt. Use a pastry brush or gently use your fingers to brush the mixture on the tops of all of the pretzels.
- Bake the pretzels at 450 for about 12 minutes or until the crust is crisp and brown. Let cool for a few minutes before eating.
Use up to ¼ cup of maple syrup for a sweeter and more dessert-like pretzel; add a bit more flour if needed to bring the dough together.
Best eaten within 48 hours of baking, sooner if possible. Try not to store in an airtight container because the salt will make them soggy.
(Shared on Yeastspotting.) Happy Friday!