Soft Pretzel Rolls
Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed the long weekend as much as I did. 2015 finished on a high note with Michigan State getting bulldozed by Alabama in the Cotton Bowl. Then Michigan got the year off to a great start with a 41-7 rout of Florida in the Citrus Bowl behind great performances from Jake Rudock, De’Veon Smith, Jehu Chesson, and many others.
I still had a full weekend before going back to work today so I took some time to make some bread and stock our freezer with a few meals. These pretzel rolls took just a few hours to make on Saturday and gave us a tasty option for sandwiches or snacks during the week.
Two years ago I made pretzel sticks but I’m not sure they were worth all the effort. On the other hand these pretzel rolls required almost no shaping and were boiled and baked in under 30 minutes. While short, that dip in the water is important and helps give pretzels their distinct flavor.
To be more specific it is being poached in a basic (alkaline) solution that lends the pretzel its taste. In professional operations food-grade lye will be used but for our purposes at home baking soda will do just fine. It isn’t as strong as lye but will get you a great tasting pretzel without the hassle and necessary precautions that lye requires.
So far we’ve used these for Reuben sandwiches and as burger buns. Since the recipe makes 16 rolls and there are just two of us I sliced up and froze the rest. When I wasn’t at the movies seeing Star Wars again and again (I cannot stop listening to ‘Rey’s Theme‘) I also found time during the break to make some chili and lasagna to keep our freezer stocked over the next few weeks.
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2 tablespoons instant yeast
- 2 cups water
- 6 cups (27 ounces) bread flour
- 1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup baking soda
- 4 cups water
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
- Coarse sea salt or pretzel salt
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer combine all dough ingredients.
- Using your hands (or the dough hook) knead for 8-10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and clears the sides of the bowl.
- Cut the dough into 16 even pieces and let rest on a lightly floured surface.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or baking mats. Dust with flour.
- To make rolls form each dough piece into a ball. Stretch and tuck under the sides of the dough to for a neater and tighter shape. Place rolls onto baking sheets.
- Let rise (uncovered is fine) for 1 hour, or until the dough has almost doubled in size. Dough may also be refrigerated overnight for a slower rise.
- Preheat oven to 425 F.
- In a wide pot bring 4 cups of water to a boil on high heat. Once boiling add ¼ cup of the baking soda and turn heat down to medium.
- Place 4 rolls into water for 1 minute. After 1 minute gently flip the rolls and let them go for another minute. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pretzels back to the baking sheet.
- Repeat for 4 more pretzels. Bring water back to a boil, and add ¼ cup more baking soda to the water. Then repeat the poaching process for the remaining 8 pretzels.
- For standard baking soda bath: Bring 1 quart of water to a boil. Add baking soda (and step back, it foams up quickly) and stir to dissolve. Remove from heat and poach pretzels for 1 minute on each side in solution. Use slotted spoon to transfer pretzels to baking sheet. Continue until all pretzels are poached.
- Once poached brush pretzels with egg wash and, if desired, make slashes in the rolls. Sprinkle salt over top.
- Bake in preheated 425 F oven for 14-16 minutes, rotating after 6 minutes to make sure they bake evenly. Transfer to a cooling rack when done.