I guess I’ve been in a sandwich mood lately, because all the bread I’ve been making has ended up in one. Apparently all of my seemingly innocent baking projects have had a secret vendetta of wrapping the results around something hearty and delicious and non-bread in nature. Pretzel rolls are the latest in the trend, but by no means the last (brace yourselves for english muffin sandwiches in the near future).
Pretzel rolls are (spoiler alert) rolls shaped like a pretzel, or perhaps pretzels shaped like a roll. The dough for pretzels is pretty similar to lots of other doughs, and what sets them apart is mainly the baking method. Pretzels are a lot like twisty, skinny bagels; they’re dense and chewy with a smooth dark crust. Pretzels’ real personality comes from boiling in an alkaline solution after rising and prior to baking, which helps solidify their shape and encourages a much darker crust.
At the moment my pretzel technique is still a little shaky, so my pretzels tend to end up looking like rolls anyway. Rather than beating myself up in the meantime over my sub-par pretzels, I decided it’s time to make a sandwich.
Pretzel Rolls – the recipe:
1 batch soft sandwich roll dough (or your favorite roll/pretzel dough), risen according to recipe
2 quarts water
1/4 cup baking soda
1 egg, beaten, mixed with 1 tb water
pretzel salt (or another salt with large crystals)
Divide the dough into 6-8 pieces, depending on how big you want the final rolls.
With lightly floured hands, take each piece and form it into a long rope. You can do this by rolling it on the counter with your hands in the center of the rope and gradually moving your hands apart as you roll; alternatively you can squeeze and stretch the rope gently to the desired shape. Try to not to just pull on it, because it will tear or become uneven and then be more difficult to work with.
Once you have each rope fairly long (12-18 inches), twist them into pretzel shapes. Since we’re making rolls, these shouldn’t be really big, sprawling, street-style pretzels (since that’s fairly impractical for a sandwich). It’s okay though to leave some gaps between the loops, since we’ll be letting these rise much longer than a regular pretzel would need and they’ll fill in a lot.
Place your formed pretzels on a floured or greased pan, then cover with oiled plastic and allow to rise for 45 min-1 hour until puffed up and increased in volume.
Once the pretzels are risen, bring the water to a boil. Don’t add the baking soda yet. My brother, who I was baking these with, found a tip about waiting to add the baking soda until the water was already hot, and I can attest that this is better. Previously I had mixed them before heating, and it’s a mess. Once the water is boiling, add the baking soda and turn it down to a energetic simmer.
Take each pretzel and gently ease them into the water. Boil them for 30 seconds to a minute, then flip and do the same on the other side. They will puff up and become more structured, but still fairly doughy and pale.
Remove the pretzels, drain or pat them dry, then arrange on a baking sheet. Brush with the egg wash, and sprinkle with the salt.
Bake at 375° for 20-30 minutes or until the rolls are a dark golden brown and super delicious. Cool, split, and sandwich away.
What do you think? Any ideas for a sandwich that pretzels would make perfect?