Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Pretzel Rolls

While I'm a pretty adventurous cook, baking still scares me a little. I'm not a scientist by any means, and baking is a pretty science-y thing. If one doesn't follow directions exactly, chances are, things might not turn out the way they should.

I bake bread now, but only with the almost fool-proof technique found in Artisan Baking in Five Minutes a Day. My first attempt at bread, 20 years ago, was so bad, I haven't tried any other recipe. Until I decided to put on my big-girl apron and tackle soft pretzels. The dough required very little handling, so maybe I couldn't mess it up too badly. And I thought it might be nice to eat sandwiches on homemade pretzel rolls while we watched the commercials during the Super Bowl.

The recipe, which I found in an old Better Homes and Garden special baking magazine, called for twisting the dough. That part didn't turn out so well. When I lowered the twists into a pot of hot water with baking soda, they untwisted. The end result was a bit uneven-looking, as you can see from the photos. And, they fell apart once we crammed a sausage into them. But...they tasted pretty damn good.

We ate them with smoked kielbasa topped with a honey pickled mustard seed mayo, fennel slaw, caramelized onions, and tomato jam.

I'd make them again, but wouldn't bother with the twist part. I'd just shape the dough into 6 long rolls before the 30 minute rise and leave them that way for the dunk in soda water.

Pretzel Rolls (adapted from Better Homes & Gardens Fall Baking 2013)

3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/3 to 2 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 cups hot water
1/2 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk lightly beaten
1 tablespoon water
Coarse salt

Heat milk, water, and sugar until just warm (110°F). I used a microwave, but you can use a saucepan over low heat. Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with a dough hook. Sprinkle with the yeast and let stand for a few minutes until foamy. Add 2 1/3 cups of flour, the butter, and salt and beat on low speed until combined, 2-3 minutes. Turn speed to medium-low and beat an additional 8-10 minutes, until a soft dough forms. Scrape bowl as necessary. If the dough seems too sticky, add the additional flour. When the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl, turn it out onto a dry surface.

Knead dough a few times, shape into a ball, and place into a bowl that has a bit of olive oil in it. Turn the dough to coat with oil, cover bowl, and set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in size.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment.

Punch risen dough down and divide into six portions. Roll and stretch each portion into a 12" rope. (OR, just make fat 6" - 8" long rolls.) Place each on prepared baking sheet. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Fold each piece of dough in half, then twist twice. (OR, just skip the twist if you made the fat rolls.)

In a deep dish or pot, add the water and the baking soda, stirring to dissolve soda. Using a slotted spoon, lower dough twists into water for 10 seconds, then drain on paper towels. Arrange drained twists on prepared baking sheet.

Beat egg and water together in a small bowl. Brush over dough twists and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake for 12-15 minutes until deeply browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 6 rolls.

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