Pretzel Rolls

I know this is going to sound totally crazy, but lately I can pretty much take or leave bread. I’m baking it much less often, and when I do, I just slice the loaves and freeze them in individual packages to pull out on the rare occasion we make a sandwich or want toast under a fried egg. A single loaf of bread will often last months in our freezer! It’s not a conscious decision I made to eat less bread, I just stopped craving it the way I used to. Even the bread baskets they bring to the table in restaurants don’t hold the same appeal to me that they once did, I barely know who I am πŸ™‚

Pretzel Rolls

My carb addiction is still alive and well when it comes to pretzels though, I am utterly obsessed with them! Well, I should clarify – the obsession is limited to soft pretzels. The crunchy bagged ones from the store don’t really do it for me. I pretty much cannot walk by any sort of food cart or stand selling soft pretzels and not buy one.

Pretzel rolls have been making the rounds on several blogs lately, and I didn’t wait long to join in on the fun. I baked these rolls to serve with cheddar ale soup last week, and it was seriously the most comforting meal ever. The leftovers fed us for a few days, and I wasn’t even remotely tired of the combination by the end. The rolls have a crisp, salty exterior and the classic soft pretzel chewiness too. They reheat well too, so you can even make them in advance. Some of my friends have turned pretzel rolls into bread bowls, which is also a great idea, and it probably won’t be long before that’s happening here too.

Pretzel Rolls

Soft Pretzel Rolls
barely adapted from Bon Appetit, January 1994 (via Epicurious, originally seen on Ezra Pound Cake)

{Note: the original recipe called for celery seeds, which I omitted. Lots of the reviews mentioned loving the flavor they added so I figured I’d mention it in case you want to add them back.}

2 3/4 cups bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons hot water (about 125-130 F)
cornmeal
8 cups water
1/4 cup baking soda
2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg white, beaten until foamy (for glaze)
coarse salt

Add the bread flour, yeast, salt, and sugar to the bowl of your food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. With the machine running, slowly add the hot water through the feed tube (you might not need all of the water – add enough to form a smooth cohesive dough). Knead the dough by allowing the food processor to run for 1 minute – the dough should be smooth and elastic.

Spray a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Form the dough into a rough ball then add to the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for about 35 minutes, or until doubled in volume.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Press down and knead lightly into a ball. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Shape each piece of dough into a ball and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten the ball just slightly, then use a pair of scissors (a knife would probably work too) to cut an “x” shape into the top. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough. Cover the baking sheet with a towel and let the dough balls rise for 20 minutes, or until nearly doubled in volume.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle generously with cornmeal. Add the water to a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Carefully add the baking soda and soda (the mixture will bubble up). Place half of the rolls in the water and cook them for 30 seconds per side. Use a spider (or slotted spoon) to transfer them to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat withe the remaining 4 rolls.

Brush the rolls with the egg white glaze then sprinkle them generously with coarse salt. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the rolls cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

{Note: you can make these a few hours ahead of time – when you’re ready to serve, just reheat for about 10 minutes in a 375 F oven.}

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