Friday, December 17, 2010

Let's Do The Twist! (Spinach Feta Stuffed Soft Pretzels)

I'm proud to make good on my promise to share something yummy by week's end...despite falling prey to a nasty cold the day before my last exams and remaining in its clutches all week. We also just got our first real snow of the year (yay!), and I'm wishing for a white Christmas. Hope you all are as excited for the holidays as we are and keeping yourselves nice n' warm =D.

A bit of a surprise even for me, but today's recipe is inspired by Starbucks! While they've somehow managed to ruin every type of baked sweet I've sampled (even the classic CC cookie), their stuffed pretzels were actually quite good. I use the past tense because I'm not sure they still make these as I can't find any mention on their website.

Stuffed and Twisted
But whether or not they still sold them, I knew I could make my own at home, where they'd be fresher and much cheaper. A quick Google search revealed no shortage of soft pretzel fans out there, and I quickly found a recipe for a slightly sweet pretzel with pillowy soft insides. The dough couldn't be easier to mix up but with the rising and assembly time required, I decided to keep the filling fast and easy. Ready-made creamed spinach with a spicy kick, gooey mozzarella, and flavorful crumbled feta. Before we knew it, P and I had an irresistible snack on our hands. And you might say, half the batch and 2 hours later, that we made no attempt to resist 8p.

I'm sending this over to Susan at Wild Yeast for her weekly Yeastspotting event, where I've noticed the round-ups growing larger recently. Have you guys been baking any yummy yeasted treats? Please do tell me all about them!

Spinach Feta Stuffed Soft Pretzels [Printable Recipe]
Adapted from Owl Moon Studio and FoodMayhem
Makes 12 pretzels

XIAOLU'S NOTES: The amounts of filling ingredients given below are approximate. You may use a little more or less depending on personal judgment, how wide you press the dough, etc. Also, I already reduced the sugar greatly from the original dough recipe, but feel free to change the amount to as high as 1/2 cup. If you don't have a stand mixer, just mix the dough ingredients in the same order as below but with a wooden spoon, then knead by hand for 5 to 8 minutes until dough is smooth.

1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F)
1 Tbsp PLUS 1 tsp sugar, divided
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour, divided
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp table salt
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup baking soda
4 cups hot water

1 cup creamed spinach [prepared according to directions if frozen]
Red pepper flakes (optional)
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
3/4 to 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese [or string cheese torn into strips]
2 Tbsp butter, melted
Kosher or other large salt, to garnish

In a small bowl combine warm water, 1 teaspoon sugar, and yeast. Let stand for 10 minutes or until foamy.

Put 3 1/2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon table salt in the bowl of your stand mixer. Mix with the paddle attachment for a few seconds. Add vegetable oil and yeast mixture and just mix until moistened.

Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium speed until the dough is smooth and clears the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes. Add in the remaining cup of flour while dough is kneading. When dough is done kneading, place in a large oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise till doubled in size, about 1 hour.

30 minutes before you plan to bake, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F . Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray or line with parchment paper. Dissolve baking soda in hot water.

When dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope, roughly 1/2-inch diameter. Press the ropes flat, until about 2-inch across.

Mix red pepper flakes, if using and to taste, into the creamed spinach. Spoon a 1/2-inch wide row of spinach mixture down the center. Sprinkle a small amount of mozzarella and feta cheese over the spinach. Roll up dough about the filling and pinch the edges shut. Shape into pretzels, gently pressing ends down to attach. Carefully dip pretzels, one at a time, into the baking soda/water, then place pretzels on baking sheet. Be gentle to avoid the filling breaking through. In fact, these are delicate enough that you might want to lower the pretzels into the water while in your hands instead of dipping. Bake for 8 minutes, or until golden brown.

As soon as the pretzels come out of the oven, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with a little salt. Let cool 5 minutes. Then enjoy right away or reheat leftovers later in a toaster oven, sandwich press, or even waffle iron.


  1. I think I was born with a bretzle in my hand... this post makes me homesick.. I miss that I could go out on the street and pick up a soft pretzle... or auntie annes.. and now I'm off to scour starbucks here.. cos I'm too lazy to bake anything this weekend...

    these look super, super, super.... tres delicious...

  2. A wonderful treat! They look perfect and must taste heavenly. I love that savory filling.



  3. They look so great, and the picture is fantastic,

  4. I have been an avid Starbucks consumer in my time (not anymore...but in a past life) and i have NEVER seen these! Oh man do they sound awesome. A stuffed pretzel. That's just genius.

  5. Thanks, you guys! I'm actually about to go to the neighborhood where I used to buy them from Starbucks, so maybe I'll check if they still have them. Must have been at very select ones.

  6. These sound amazing! I love the combination of feta and spinach. Plus, it's great that you can recreate something from Starbucks - that's not only talent but smart baking!

  7. Love pretzels too and we have a store selling them here in all sorts of flavor! Maybe I should start making some to save some dollars hmmm...

  8. These would be such a yummy movie snack!!

  9. Mmm, feta and spinach stuffed pretzels are so good. I've never seen them at Starbucks, but I have bought a frozen version at Whole Foods before. I think they were called Kim & Scott's Pretzels, anyhow I'm sure a homemade version would be way better.

  10. I found your blog through foodgawker and I'm so glad I did. This lookes yummy. Can you believe I've never eaten a pretzel in my life??!!

  11. ooo...i just found you and i am making pretzels today! yours look perfectly, perfect!

  12. Great idea, using Starbucks as inspiration. Their stuff sounds good in theory but once you take a bite, well, that's another story. Stuffing them this way is almost like having a meal tucked inside a pretzel, so I wouldn't feel too bad about indulging. Looks phenomenal.

  13. The pretzels are nicely done!! I've been wanting to make them since xx months ago lol..

  14. I hope the cold weather will reside... I had to give up my plan of walking around Manhattan early this week because of the cold! Your Pretzels look so golden and and fluffy! Filled with gooey cheese to boot! Great treat and I am stashing this away for keeps!

  15. I love the idea of stuffed pretzels. I've been baking too much sweet things recently, so your pretzels could be a nice change:) and of course the picture is amazing! So crisp and stylish!

  16. A pillowy inside pretzel is relatively new to me cos I usually encounter "hard" pretzels! :p

  17. Wonderful! Starbucks does indeed sell some awful baked treats but I recently noticed their Christmas granola scones is nicely moist and tasty. PHEW! These are great. :) And so pretty x

  18. The pretzels look just beautiful...!!

  19. Rustic beauty in every have me SO TEMPTED! I think these are just brilliant. Bookmarking them...

  20. mmm these look delish! I have never had a soft pretzel - would be interesting to try I think, I must have one one day.

    Oh and I am loving your photography - just keeps on getting better and better!

  21. Brittany - I'm glad you like 'em!

    Jeannie - Oh that store sounds wonderful for when you need a quick fix ;p. Please do try making them at home, though, and let me know how you like them if you do.

    Chanel11 - You're right! Wish they had survived that long hehe.

    Sylvie - Thanks for telling me about the frozen version. I was honestly perplexed that I hadn't seen this type of treat around more since it's so cute and tasty.

    Lick My Spoon - wow it is hard to believe -- I hope you try one soon and enjoy it immensely :). This is a pretty one to start with, if I do say so myself haha.

    The Urban Baker - aw welcome to my little abode 8). I'm not sure if you're making this recipe but good luck either way!

    mycookinghut - thanks, sweetie!

    Irina - I definitely used the vegetables inside excuse to eat more with less guilt. I wish I could stuff even more goodness inside but the oozing would turn into exploding if I did hah.

    Swee San - thx girl! you really should try them. not as intimidating as I thought they'd be at all. And so fresh and yummy.\

    Shirley - aw I'm so sorry the weather messed with your plans! I do hope it subsides especially for your sake.

    Alina - thank you for your sweet comment. I definitely baked this in part because I have several sweet treats in a row coming up and wanted to balance things out.

    tigerfish - yes, I definitely had my first exposure to hard pretzels much earlier than soft. But I must say it's the second that really won me over. Hope you give it a chance ;).

    diva - I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks so. Those granola scones sound intriguing though. I'll keep an eye out for them.

    Cooking Gallery - many thanks for stopping by!

    Deeba - aw thanks, dear. you are too kind!

    Alicia - It's great to see you active again XD. Welcome back and thanks for your nice words about the food and photography here.

  22. I am positively terrible at baking with yeast but I'm working on it! These look great. I can't remember the last time I had a stuffed pretzel!

  23. ah, stuffed pretzels are the way to go! interesting filling--i'm not sure what i'd pick to use as a dip for these beauts. tzatziki, perhaps? :)

  24. ooooh homemade pretzels!! amazing. so fresh and delicious!
    Heidi xo

  25. Thanks for visiting my blog. Pretzels with spinach and feta filling looks amazing. I would love to make these.

  26. I've never baked soft pretzels with much success before. Your post has just motivated me to give it another go!

  27. I usually don't get excited about soft pretzels, as they usually just taste like salted dough, but these truly sound like something special! Way to dress it up, and make it uniquely flavorful.

  28. They look so yummmy, I'm on a doctors diet now and i cant eat anything but rice and rice crackers and thisl looks soooo yummy :(((

  29. That's a wonderful twist of soft pretzel.

  30. Nicely done! Savory pretzels sounds so good right about now.

  31. smalltownoven - I've had some bad luck in the past with yeast as well, but this recipe gave me no trouble. I set the bowl right by the heating vent to rise to keep it warm...I think that helps.

    Michelle - thanks, girl!

    grace - ooh, that's a good idea. I honestly didn't need a dip but I think some mustard would be yummy too.

    Heidi - yep! fresh is best, in my opinion :).

    Vegetarian Zest - I hope you get a chance to make these. Of course, you could really substitute with any sweet or savory filling you want.

    crustabakes - sorry your previous efforts didn't work out. I'm not always successful with yeast either, but these turned out tasty.

    Hannah - thanks! I definitely got way more excited about these than plain salted pretzels. There's just something nice about that element of "surprise" inside.

    Just Cake Girl - aw sorry to hear that hun. Hope you get to expand your diet soon and that everything's ok.

    Angie - =D.

    Lisa - I'm glad you think so! Thank ya.

  32. Doesn't it always seem like 'you' (anyone and everyone) gets sick during finals? I suppose its the stress. I hope you are feeling better, and get better especially before the holiday.
    And your pretzels look so good!

  33. omg these are amazing! I fell in love with pretzels in NYC! Bookmarked! :)

  34. I'm so immature...."yeastspotting" made me laugh out loud. Yes I'm 20....

    These pretzels looks so great- I absolutely love soft pretzels, but it's a treat I only eat about once or twice a year. I've never stuffed with anything, but I know that next time I make them, I will use this recipe! Delish.

  35. Count me in as a soft pretzel lover! These look fantastic and I can only imagine how good they would be fresh from the oven! :D

  36. I always wanted to bake this too, you know? You just gave me a push, I really need that :-)

    Btw, the photo is very well-taken, just love the layout and the casual feel of it, really nice shot :-)

  37. Thanks for the recipe! I work at B&N, and our cafe still carries these from Starbucks! They are DELISH, but I need to stop giving my entire paycheck back to the store, so I'm excited to try making these myself!

    I don't have a standing mixer, though, just a hand-held one that has only regular blender attachments and a whisk attachment. Would you recommend mixing by hand, or with the regular blender attachments, or would neither work?

  38. When I first tasted a pretzels, I fell in love!..and your pictures are so tempting..Thanks for dropping by our space..:)

    btw OMG your cupcakes are so so awesome!..I am not able to decide which one is more pretty!..will be surely back to check out more in detail..thanks for leading me here..

  39. Indie.Tea - thanks I am feeling much better! and yea it's usually that I get sick right during or after the stressful period.

    Anh - I'm glad you love them too!

    Koko - haha it's okay to have a young mind once in a while ;p. you're ahead of me then with the pretzel experience since this is my first homemade soft pretzel batch. Hope you enjoy trying something new with the filling though!

    Lorraine - Yep, they were definitely best straight from the oven. Especially with that generous brushing of butter XD.

    Kris - I'm glad I reminded you of something you wanted to make. And of course thank for the comment about the photograph. You know how much your opinion means to me :).

    book-huntress - thanks for letting me know they're still available! I actually included a time estimate for hand kneading in the recipe but it's a bit hidden so I understand you not seeing it. I'll drop by your blog to let you know as well :).

    Srivalli - thanks for stopping by! I'm glad you're enjoying the pretzels and cupcakes. They are all great fun to make.

  40. MMM, spinach and feta pretzels sound awesome!! Great overhead shot too!

  41. those u made look better than store bought! the first time i made pretzels, they looked like baby poop. =S

  42. Delicious prestzels!! Perfect Golden brown!

  43. Wow! Leave it to starbucks to remove the one thing that's good from their menu! It's a good thing you've resurected this version... I'm personally more a savoury pretzel kind of girl - this is definitely my type. Happy Holidays Xiaolu to you, Mr P, and your family.

  44. This looks so good - love the pic!

  45. Yes! Finally, I can see the recipe after drooling over the flickr :))


  46. Spinach + feta = AMAZING combination. Good job, this looks so great!

  47. Oh, these look just so so good! I love stuffed pretzels and creamed spinach can only make cheesey pretzels even better.

  48. Thanks, everyone! Hope you all had a really awesome Christmas/holidays.

    Trissa - it turns out they still do sell it at certain bookstores, but I think it's more fun and delicious to make them at home, don't you agree? :)

  49. This was such a good recipe!! Thanks for sharing

  50. Thanks! I hope that means you made them and they turned out well. Happy New Year!

  51. What a great idea for pretzels!

  52. I loooove soft pretzels and have never seen stuffed ones like this! They look seriously amazing.

  53. Wow! These look sooo freaking good! I love spinach, feta and eggs in the morning and these bagels look sooo dank!

    I JUST made sausage and cheese bagels and I will definitely try these next.


  54. Most Starbucks that have them still are inside of Barnes & Nobles, but as these are typically privately owned (not corporately), it varies depending on the owner. HOWEVER....I just had 1 tonight from the Barnes & Noble in Fort Wayne, IN, and other than being a little cold (I was on my way to the movies, so didn't have time for them to re-heat it :'( ) it was still VERY delicious. I used to get them all the time at the Barnes & Noble Starbucks on campus and really miss them, so I'll DEFINITELY be making these sometime in the near future - I'll probably add some jalapeño though to give it a spicy kick.

    Thanks for the recipe! :D



I love hearing from you all! Please leave me a message if you have questions, advice, or just to let me know you stopped by. Your feedback is always very much appreciated. Thanks! <3 Xiaolu