These rolls are soft and chewy. They can be made into any shape you want to suit your needs. From burger buns, hot dog buns to the traditional knot. This basic recipe is very simple and easy to follow, you just need a little patients...
For a more authentic recipe, you would have to use Lye! Yes, you heard me, "Lye"! The same stuff used to make soap. Lye is a caustic alkaline solution, also known as sodium hydroxide. Let me assure you though when handled and prepared carefully, is entirely edible. In fact, Lye is used in many different food preparations or preservation from Ramen noodles to Lutefisk, corn tortillas, bagels and even olives.
For a little more on this and an interesting read - NPR "For A Proper Pretzel Crust, Count On Chemistry And Memories" www.npr.org
Obviously, unless you are a serial killer with a sack full of Lye, some rope and a tarp, Lye isn't something that you just have "Lye-ing" around?... Ahem'. Which is why, as home bakers, we can substitute for a less risky and more commonly found ingredient in the average home kitchen: Baking Soda. Baking Soda works similarly to the Lye, it browns the bread when baking and gives it that "alkaline" taste.
**Disclosure: The links below, are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Makes : 5-6 Loaves
Prep time :1-2 hours
Bake time: 25 min
Total Time : 3 hours 25
1 and 1/2 Cups of Tepid Water
2 and 1/4 tsp Dry Instant Yeast
2 tsp Granulated sugar
4 and 1/4 cups of Strong Bread Flour
2 tsp Salt
4 tbsp Melted Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup of Baking Soda
1 Beaten Egg
Rock salt - optional for sprinkling
To a stand mixer add the yeast, tepid water and sugar to the bowl. Allow the yeast to do its work and bloom; it will start to foam and bubble, this should take roughly 15-20 minutes.
Once the yeast has bloomed add the melted butter, salt, and flour.
With a dough hook attachment, begin kneading the mixture on low speed until it starts to come together, then ramp up the speed to medium and knead the dough for about 5 minutes to develop the gluten.
The dough should now look soft and smooth and have a little stretch and bounce to it. Remove the dough from the stand mixer bowl and place into a lightly greased clean bowl. You can use any neutral tasting cooking oil - its to stop the dough from sticking.
Cover the bowl with either a tea towel or plastic wrap and let this baby grow. The yeast will continue its work, and the fermentation process will start, this is what gives the bread those little pockets of air and "rise." You need to leave the dough to prove/rise in a warm place or proving drawer for at least an hour and doubled in size.
Uncover the dough and admire its magnificence! Turn out the dough on to a floured surface and "knock it back," in other words, push some of the air out and give it another little knead before shaping into a ball.
Divide the ball into equal portions, however many buns, rolls or knots you what to make. In this case, I made buns/loaves and what you want to do is roll into a ball at the same time folding and tucking the bottom of the ball under itself. At this point, you should end up with a smooth exterior with no creases.
Place the dough balls on a lined baking sheet with either parchment paper or a silicone mat. Once again, cover and leave to prove for a second time for roughly 30 minutes.
While the dough is proving, put roughly 9 cups of water on to boil. Once the water has boiled, turn down the heat a little and slowly add the baking soda - if you add it all at once you will end up recreating what resembles a preschool science experiment.
Pre-heat your oven to 200°C/400°F. Your dough balls will have risen a second time - place as many as you can fit into the simmering baking soda water (with space to spare) for 20 seconds a side. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain off the water. This process is what gives the pretzels its "chewy" texture as the outer layer is cooked in the baking soda water and then cooked again when you bake it.
Place the rolls on the lined baking sheet and with a serrated knife cut the top of the bun in whatever fashion you like, I like to do a cross cut about 1/2 cm deep. Brush lightly with beaten egg and place into the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until deep golden brown.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before consuming.
These rolls (baked) can be kept in a ziplock bag or airtight container for up to 3-4 days before going stale.
You can also freeze the baked rolls and refresh them in the oven from frozen for 5-10 minutes.
You can freeze the dough for up to 3 months - but be sure to sufficiently wrap or store in an airtight container to avoid freezer burn.
You need to thaw frozen dough in the refrigerator overnight. Bring to room temperature, then allow to rise before following from step 9.
In the UK, soft pretzel bread isn't that prevalent. Although you can find it if you look hard enough or find a really good artisan bakery, market or continental food shop. This is why I make my own.
I hope you have a go at making these, I would love to see your Pretzels if you have tried this recipe.