Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Pretzel Rolls

Pretzel rolls are all the rage in restaurants now.  Even the cafeteria at work has been bringing them in from a local bakery for sandwiches.  I first made these a little over a year or so ago and adored them.  Dave and I love soft pretzels (remember these?) and these big rolls are awesome for sandwiches.  Dave made a ham and cheese slathered with mustard (after all, it is a pretzel), but I topped mine with fresh basil, mozzarella, beautiful ripe tomato slices and lettuce.  Not only delicious, but hearty and fresh.  The pretzels have a beautifully browned crusty outside and a soft, chewy interior, just as the perfect pretzel should.  Don't be intimidated by a yeast dough--these are so easy.

I've tried a few different recipes, but I really like this one from Jen at Our Studio Kitchen.  It's based on Alton Brown's regular soft pretzel recipe, just with a different shape and adjusted bake time.  Since I have a scale, I weighed my flour for consistency, but if you are spooning and leveling your flour, you should be fine.  The baking soda parboil and a slathering of egg wash give these pretzels the distinctive crust and exterior flavor, so don't skimp on that.  Since I use bulk instant yeast, I didn't need to proof my yeast, so follow the package instructions if you need to do that.  I baked my rolls up on a pizza stone, but if you're using a regular baking sheet, you might want to put some parchment paper down, as well as let your rolls drain slightly on a cooling rack after they come out of the water bath.  This will help keep the rolls from sticking to the pan (and parchment) once they are baked.  Pretzels really aren't that complicated and they are perfect for the upcoming football season and related food festivities, so get in the kitchen and make these rolls!

Pretzel Rolls


22 ounces or 4 /12 cups flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
10 cups plus 1 1/2 cups plus 1 Tablespoon water, divided
1/4 cup butter, melted
cooking spray or oil
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk
sea salt for sprinkling

Measure flour into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add sugar, yeast and salt, then whisk together to combine.  Note: This can be done by hand with a large bowl and a hand held mixer or a sturdy spatula/wooden spoon, but you'll need your muscles.

Heat 1 1/2 cups of water to between 110 and 115 degrees.  With the dough hook attachment on low speed, gradually drizzle in water until flour is moistened, then add butter.

Increase the speed to medium low once the dough starts to pull away from the sides.  If the dough is too dry, add more water, about 1 Tablespoon at a time.  If too wet, add flour, about 1 Tablespoon at a time.  Continue mixing to knead dough about 5-10 more minutes, until a soft, elastic dough forms. 

Remove dough and shape into a ball.  Lightly coat the bowl with cooking spray or oil.  Return dough to bowl and toss to coat with the oil on all side.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 60 minutes or until doubled in size.

As the dough finishes rising, bring 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a boil in a large pot.  Once the dough has risen, punch down to release the gasses.  Cut dough into 8 pieces as evenly as possible.

Separate the pieces, then shape each into a ball by folding the edges under and pressing the heel of your hand on the top, smoothing it out.  To finish, roll the ball on your work surface under the palm of your hand.  Press down gently on the top to give it a squatty bun shape.

Once all the rolls are formed, drop them into the boiling water bath in batches (I did two at at time), for 30 seconds, spooning water over the top to coat.  Remove from water bath and either drain on wire rack to remove excess water or place directly on a baking stone or parchment lined baking sheet.

After all the rolls are parboiled, whisk together egg yolk and 1 Tablespoon water, then brush all over the tops and sides of each roll.  Using a sharp knife, gently score the tops of the rolls, either in an X shape or with a few parallel lines, then sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes or until dark golden brown.

Remove from oven and transfer to wire racks to cool completely before serving or storing in an airtight container.  The rolls can also be frozen.

Makes 8 rolls.

Happy Baking,
The Cookie Princess

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