Traditionally we think of pretzels in their classic knotted shape but there's a way you can transform this classic snack to create a recipe that's a really lunchtime winner — we're talking about pretzel rolls.
Let the salty, sweet flavor of these rolls take your sandwiches to new heights!
What makes something a pretzel is a dip in a baking soda bath before it’s baked; the baking soda gives the pretzel that recognizable dark crust and tangy bite. Traditionally pretzels are bathed in a lye solution but lye isn't as readily available and is actually hazardous before you boil it so you have to take great care when working with it. So baking soda for me thanks.
Master Bread Making Basics
Now knowing how a pretzel becomes a pretzel think of all the possibilities: crackers , bagels, hamburger buns, etc. For delicate items such as crackers, you can use a spray bottle or pastry brush to apply the baking soda solution.
What this also means is that you can use your favorite roll dough and turn then into pretzel rolls by simply boiling them in a baking soda and sugar mixture after they rise and right before baking.
Below is one of my favorite recipes for a simple bun. It's sturdy, dense and handles the boiling well. It also improves with a bit of age, so go ahead and mix up the dough then let it slowly rise in the fridge for a day or two. That will impart even more flavor to your pretzel rolls.
Part 1: A simple olive oil dough
Adapted from Date Night In
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1⁄2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3⁄4 cup lukewarm water
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 11⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt
Start this dough the day before or up to 2 days before you plan to use it.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the yeast, sugar, olive oil, and water. Dump in the flour and salt.
Start by mixing the dough on low until everything is well combined. Increase the speed of the mixer to medium low and knead for 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can knead for 7 to 10 minutes by hand, on a lightly floured surface.
The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl and be smooth and elastic.
Transfer to a container with a lid and refrigerate 24 to 48 hours. Make sure the container allows room for the dough to double in size. After this first slow rise, dough balls can be frozen until ready to use. Defrost in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours.
Loving this tutorial? Download the directions and ingredients in easy, printable PDF form, and enjoy the recipe anytime, anywhere, forever!
Part 2: The pretzel rolls
Makes 4 pretzel rolls
- 1 recipe olive oil pizza dough (page 14)
- Unsalted butter, for the pan
- 3 quarts water
- 3⁄4 cup baking soda
- 1⁄3 cup dark brown sugar
When ready to make the rolls, remove the dough from the fridge and divide into four equal portions (it’s easiest to work with when it’s cold).
Roll each piece of dough into a 3-inch ball. If the dough feels tight and no longer wants to stretch, set it aside to rest while you work on another portion. This allows the gluten to relax, and it will be easier to work with after a few minutes.
Place the formed rolls on a well-greased or Silpat-lined baking sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
Let rise until doubled, about 2 hours in a warm spot.
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Set a wire cooling rack over a dish towel on your counter.
For the pretzel solution, bring the water, baking soda, and brown sugar to a boil in a large, wide pot. Reduce to a simmer.
Carefully drop the rolls into the pretzel solution and cook for 1 minute on each side; use a large slotted spoon to turn. Remove them from the liquid and place on the wire cooling rack set over the dish towel to drain.
Use a very sharp knife to cut a 1⁄2-inch-deep slit in the top along the length of each roll.
Return the rolls to the greased (or Silpat- lined) baking sheet and bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until dark brown and cooked through.
Carefully remove the rolls from the baking sheet and allow them to cool on a wire rack. If the rolls stick, use a metal spatula to release.
These rolls are best eaten the day they are baked.
If you’d like to add salt or seeds (poppy, sesame, or caraway), brush the rolls with an egg wash (1 egg mixed with 1 teaspoon water) after they’ve been boiled and cut and then top with the seeds.