This Is How I Roll, Roll, Roll…

Ok, so I obviously don’t listen to rap, but it sounded like a rap chorus to me.  Do they even call them choruses?

Anyway,  I’ve been cooking a lot with yeast lately, and I recently made one of my favorite treats, soft pretzels.

I’ve always been too scared to try my hand at soft pretzeling.  It’s involved, and uses scary chemicals like lye, the same substance that Brad Pitt burned whatshisface in the movie Fight Club.  Whupps. I talked about it.  Oh well.  Turns out, I was wrong about the pretzels.  Observe…

I started with a recipe I found on this website.  No where did it mention lye, or anything else caustic.  No, it just used baking soda.  Well, that’s easy enough, I figured.

I followed the recipe, mixing the yeast with warm milk, and then adding it to my flour.

I mixed the dough together, just until I couldn’t stir it easily, and then I dumped it onto my counter, and began to knead it, adding flour when it got too sticky.  After about 10 minutes, the dough was soft, and smooth, but unlike most bread doughs, this was almost squishy-soft like a pillow.  Seriously, you really might want to snuggle with it.

I put the dough back into the bowl, without washing in between, and let it rise for one hour.

After that hour was up, the dough looked like this…

after I poked my fingers into it to show just how squishy-soft it was.  Then I cut the dough into 16 pieces, pulled them into balls, and let those rest for 15 minutes under a damp tea towel.

While it was resting, I turned to boiling my water/baking soda mixture.  Once it was rolling, I began to add my dough balls to the pot.

I cooked each roll for one minute on each side, and then removed them to a lined baking sheet.  I decided to only boil up 10 of the dough balls, and froze the rest.  Afterwards, I realized that I should’ve frozen a few more.  When the dough hits the water, it grows, a lot.  What I thought were going to be dinner roll size pretzel rolls, turned into hamburger buns.

When they came out of the water, I sliced the tops of the dough, and salted them with sea salt.

You have to use a serrated knife, and my electric knife blade seemed the best option.  Here’s a close up so you can really see what a good job it did.

I put the rolls into a 400 degree oven, and let them bake for 20 minutes or so.  They came out beautifully.

 

They were soft, chewy, and just as a soft pretzel should be.  They were the perfect accompaniment to our little picnic supper.  And although the original website said they weren’t so good the following day, I found that slicing them in half, and then toasting them in the toaster oven kept them soft and delicious for up to four days!

So why did I choose a roll shape, instead of the traditional twist?  It’s simply more versatile.  The rolls can be eaten like a pretzel, but even better, they can be turned into other things.  These made the best sandwiches.  Gosh, even typing this I want to make another batch.  Yum…

 

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