Pretzel Buns (Summer of Bread)

I’m launching a new cooking project. Now that classes are over for the next few months, I have free weekends to do  crazy things… liking baking all my own bread. I hope to bake a loaf of bread every week this summer. My bread skills are far from perfect, and I’m too often chained to recipes for guidance instead of being able to rely on intuition.

So I hereby begin a new phase in cooking everything once. I call it…

Summer_of_Bread

A slew of post-semester barbecues left me with a lot of leftover meat and nothing to eat it with. Cue the pretzel rolls.

pretzel-rolls-2.JPG

Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing when I made this recipe. I’ve been trying to read up on what makes each type of bread what it is. Usually, there’s a difference in the ratios of the ingredients or the way you fold the dough. The normal bread ratio is 5 parts flour to 3 parts water, plus yeast plus salt. Pretzel rolls are something more like 7 parts flour to 5 parts milk to 1/2 part fat. That’s unwieldy.

The other thing that makes pretzel rolls unique is that they are boiled in a baking soda-laced water bath for a minute before being baked.

pretzel-rolls-1.JPG

I tried one further twist to train myself to experiment with bread more. I decided to let the dough rest on the countertop at room temperature. I think that we’re told to let dough rise in warm water and in a warm place just as insurance for the yeast. If your yeast is good, it will rise, but it might take more time… though that extra time will produce more flavor. I don’t know everything, but I know enough to try.

Pretzel Rolls

Ingredients

  • 250g milk (~1 cup)
  • 25g butter (~2 Tbsp)
  • 2 1/4 tsp yeast
  • pinch salt
  • 360g flour (~3 cups)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Coarse salt, for topping

Directions

  1. Warm the milk and butter to 100-110°F. This won’t melt the butter, but it will soften it. Stir in the yeast.
  2. Add the salt and flour until the dough comes together.
  3. Transfer to a floured surface and knead until very elastic, about 10 minutes.
  4. Allow to rise at room temperature until doubled. I let it rise about 1.5 hours.
  5. Cut into pieces (I did six), roll into balls and allow to rest on a greased baking sheet for fifteen minutes.
  6. Set a large pot of water to a gentle boil and add baking soda. Boil the rolls, a few at a time, being careful not to overcrowd the pot.
  7. Bake at 400°F for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°F and bake for 15 minutes more until brown.

 

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