Lazy Sundays featuring the last remaining games of football season require cozy, home baked goods. While the NFC Championship game with hometown 49ers was playing in the background, I decided to spend the afternoon in the kitchen.
Following up on the bagels, I decided to give my next favorite bread a try: soft, buttery pretzels and pretzel rolls. I’ve always loved soft pretzels covered in salt and dunked in spicy, hot liquid cheese. Whether at the fair or a game, whenever I’d see them, I’d eat them. Most of the time though, they are terrible mass-produced, rubbery breads that only pass as pretzels because of their shape.
So, I set out to do better – much better.
After searching the web for the perfect recipe to get me started, I was ready to begin. I took a shell recipe from Tasty Kitchen but decided to do things a little differently. I adapted the resting time by not only letting it rest for an hour after the initial kneading, but then shaping and letting them rest in a warm place loosely covered for another 20 mins. Finally, I had them retard in the refrigerator overnight before starting the boiling steps (this in hindsight was an unnecessary step that messed up my dough. Something in the pretzel dough, whether the sugar or the butter, messes up in the refrigerator and all of my rolls and pretzels deflated. I had to reshape them the next day, so I’ve omitted that from the recipe here). I also decided to make both rolls and traditional pretzels.
- 1-½ cup Warm Water (105-110°F)
- 2 1/4 tsp of Active Dry Yeast
- 2 tsp sugar
- 4-½ cups AP Flour
- 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
- 4 tbsp Unsalted Butter, melted
- ¼ cup Baking Soda
- 1 egg, beaten
- Pretzel or Coarse Salt
In a stand mixer, combine the water, yeast and sugar and let rest 5 minutes until foamy.
Add the flour, salt, and butter; mix with the dough hook until thoroughly combined and kneaded, usually about 4-6 minutes with the dough hook (or you can do this by hand, which is my preferred method – it’s fun to be hands on!). Cover with a towel or put in a covered, lightly oiled container and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Punch down to degas the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface.
Cut the dough into 18 pieces (2 ounces each). To shape rolls, take a piece of dough and start forming a round, smooth ball by pulling the sides to the center and pinching to seal. Place, pinched side down, on a counter and lightly cupping your hand around the dough ball, rotate your hand in small circles lightly rolling the ball around the palm of your hand. To shape pretzels, take a piece of the dough and start rolling it out into a long rod with both of your hands. It should be about 12 inches long. Then fold the two ends up in the middle and flip around into the pretzel shape.
Place the ball or pretzel on the baking sheet pinched seam side down, with at least 1” between each. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes until doubled.
Preheat oven to 425°F and place oven racks on the lowest and middle positions.
In a large saucepan, bring 2 quarts of water to a low boil. Add the baking soda and lower heat to a simmer. Put into the poaching liquid. Poach for 30 seconds then carefully turn the roll over in the liquid. Poach other side for 30 seconds then remove with a slotted spoon to the same prepared sheet pans. Repeat with the remaining.
With a pastry brush, glaze each with the lightly beaten egg, making sure to coat all sides completely. Top each roll with a sprinkle of pretzel salt. With a sharp straight edged knife, cut a slash or “X” in the top of each roll.
Bake the rolls in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. For pretzels, bake for 12-15 minutes.