Pretzels are delicious – they are one of my favorite snack foods. I like all kinds of pretzels but I am especially fond of the big, warm, chewy, soft pretzels with a thin line of yellow mustard all the way around it. I don’t much like the ones at the malls because they are too big, don’t have the right texture, and don’t remind me so much of the ones that I used to get outside Grants.
Just nothing like it.
Pretzels have been around about 1400 years. Although they are usually associated with German and Pennsylvania Dutch foods the twisted breads were first created by a monk in an Italian monastery. In Italy they were called pretiola but when they got to Germany they were dubbed bretzels.[pullquote]The phrase “tying the knot” came from the Swiss. The pretzel was considered lucky and newlyweds would make a wish and break the pretzel.[/pullquote] They have been a part of American culture since Pennsylvania was settled and possibly even before. Predictably, hard pretzels came about when a distracted baker’s apprentice let the pretzels stay in the oven too long – a happy accident for sure.
It was only a matter of time before someone tried to make a sandwich out of it, right? Pretzel rolls are awesome slathered with mustard and with pastrami and Swiss piled so high that the top doesn’t want to stay on. They are great with ham and cheese, or just as a roll with butter. Guess what?
They aren’t hard to make, either.
- 1 tablespoon yeast
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2-3/4 cups flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup baking soda
- 1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
- Coarse sea salt crystals
- Put the warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the top.
- Let stand for five minutes, or until it foams.
- Attach the dough hook to the mixer.
- Mix flour and salt, and add to the yeast mixture.
- Mix on low until the dough comes together in a mass.
- Increase the speed to medium, and beat until the dough is smooth. This will take about eight to 10 minutes.
- Form the dough into a ball.
- Oil a large bowl and place the ball of dough into it, turning once to oil the top.
- Cover with a tea towel and let the dough rise for 30 minutes or until it is doubled in size.
- After the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and knead lightly.
- Divide the dough into eight equal parts and shape into football shaped rolls.
- Slash the tops in three places with a floured sharp knife. This helps the rolls open up right.
- Let the rolls rise for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Meanwhile, bring 6 cups of water to a rolling boil in large stockpot.
- When the water reaches a boil, add the baking soda. The mixture will foam up quite a lot.
- Turn down the heat.
- Add four of the rolls to the simmering water.
- Cook two minutes, turn over and cook two minutes more.
- Remove from the pot and drain on a paper towel.
- Place on a rack on a baking sheet. A broiler rack works fine.
- Repeat with the remaining rolls.
- Brush the pretzel rolls with the egg and water mixture.
- Sprinkle them lightly with salt.
- Bake for 15 minutes, or until the outside of the rolls are golden brown.
- Cool and slice in half horizontally.
If you need a baking rack this one is great. You can use it as a cooling rack, baking rack, or glazing baked goods.