Hot. Tempting. Perfectly tanned. I’m talking about pretzels, ladies and gents.
You’ve had them in tiny twists, soft braids, and buttery mall-bought goodness, but you can never get sick of pretzels (in all of their different forms, of course). Or at least I know I can’t. And trust me when I say that I’ve given it my best effort– I worked at Auntie Anne’s from the age of 15 to 22 and I still am obsessed with the beautifully browned snacks. Especially when they’re in Pretzel Roll form.
Yes, even to this day, almost 5 years since I originally wrote this pretzel recipe.
My first ever recipe.
James always talks about these Pretzel Rolls because he’s a fellow pretzel aficionado. (I pick ’em well.) He gives the recipe link out to his friends and coworkers, urging them to make the rolls, talking me up. But to be honest, it’s been a bit embarrassing. Though the Pretzel Rolls were incredibly tasty and wonderfully chewy, I really hadn’t nailed the whole food blogging thing yet when I first made this post so my pictures and writing were… well, sub-par to say the least. So I finally figured it was time I changed that.
Traditional Pretzel Rolls (called Laugenbrötchen in Germany, where they originate) are made using lye, but regardless of whether I’m a novice or expert baker, I’ll never feel comfortable using it. Every time I imagine myself fuddling around in the kitchen with lye, I flash back to that scene from Fight Club– you know, the one where Tyler Durden sadistically explains, “It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything” as Edward Norton’s character’s hand is melting off? Yes, that one.
Since I’d like to avoid chemical burns at all costs, I’ve always nixed the lye when I’ve made pretzels and used a baking soda bath instead. And you know what? They turn out absolutely perfectly without the lye, if I do say so myself.
Now, this time around I decided to make my Pretzel Rolls into more of a pretzel slider bun configuration, since that’s how I’d wind up using them (spoiler alert!) but you can still bake them separately to make them more rounded as I did with the originals. Simply space them out on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet instead of allowing them to rise together in a baking dish. Either way, they’re amazing.
Eat them with mustard, spread on some nutella, or just enjoy these Pretzel Rolls as they are and wash them down with some Bavarian lager. They’re great vessels for any kind of dip, spread, meat, or cheese, making them a creative and tasty way to upgrade from plain bread or crackers at a party. But no matter how you serve them, don’t forget to take a picture and tag #hostthetoast on Instagram to show them off! This is one of those recipes you’ve gotta document, after all.
- 1 ½ cup water at 110°F
- 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 4 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ cups baking soda
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
- Pretzel Salt, for sprinkling
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water, active dry yeast, and brown sugar. Allow to sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.
- Sift in the flour, then add in the salt and melted butter. Mix until no large clumps of flour remain (the dough will be slightly sticky). If mixing by hand, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 additional minutes.
- Spray your mixing bowl with nonstick spray, place the dough back in, and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm, draft-free spot for about an hour, or until doubled in size. (See notes.)
- Turn the dough out onto a floured counter. Using a pizza cutter or a long knife, divide the dough into 12 even-sized wedges.
- Spray a 3 quart baking dish with nonstick spray. Form each dough wedge into a sphere by pulling the edges toward the center and pinching them together. Place the dough in the prepared baking dish, seam-side down, and space evenly apart. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise for an additional hour. Then prepare the baking soda bath.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large saucepan, bring 2 quarts of water to a low boil. Remove from heat and slowly add the baking soda, a bit at a time, whisking to combine. Place back on heat and lower to a simmer.
- One at a time, transfer a risen dough ball into the baking soda bath, seam side down, and poach for 30 seconds. Then turn over and continue to poach for 30 more seconds. Using a large slotted spoon, transfer the poached dough back to the prepared baking dish, making sure not to transfer too much of the baking solution with it (or you’ll wind up with soggy-bottomed pretzels). Continue until all of the dough balls have been poached and they fit snugly together.
- Brush the dough balls lightly with the egg wash, making sure to get in the nooks between the dough balls. Sprinkle with pretzel salt.
- Using a sharp paring knife, make two slashes in the tops of the dough balls. Transfer to the oven and bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until cooked through and well-browned. Let cool slightly in the pan and then gently lift out to serve.
When it’s cold out, it may take longer for your dough to rise. To prevent this, I usually preheat my oven to the lowest setting, turn the oven off, let it cool for 5 minutes, and then place my bowl of dough in there to rise. The slight additional heat will help, and keeping the oven door closed prevents drafts.
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