Pretzel Bread (and Rolls!)

>> Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Pretzel Bread (and Rolls!)
My brother-in-law, Jim Calder, is a very methodical man. For years he has been working on making soft pretzels, mall-style. He was having trouble with the twisting part, so he decided to go on a fact-finding mission to the local pretzel shop and see how they did it. Once he saw these indifferent teens flipping the twist into the pretzels, he realized that anything he did would look fine.

Jim came up with a recipe for bread that can also be used to make rolls or buns for burgers, sandwiches, or whatever. In my opinion, this tastes best the day you bake it. By the way, if you'd like some great soup ideas to go along with this bread, just click on the "Soup" link to the right.


2 1/4 tsp dry yeast (1 .25-oz package)
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees F)
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1/3 cup for kneading
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees F)
2 tbsp baking soda
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp coarse sea salt or kosher salt


Pour warm water into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the brown sugar and salt, then stir in the yeast until dissolved. Allow the mixture to work for 15 minutes. Stir together the flour and baking powder, then stir it into the yeast mixture until well combined.

Sprinkle a kneading surface (a counter, a large cutting board, a table) with flour, and put the dough on the surface. Coat your hands with flour and knead the dough by folding it in half and pressing towards the center, until it is smooth and elastic and has lost some of its stickiness. This should take 5-10 minutes.

Place the dough in a large greased bowl, and turn it over to coat the surface. Cover with a damp towel and let it rise in a warm place for one hour.

Stir the baking soda into the warm water and pour it into a shallow pan. Grease a cookie sheet. Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto the floured kneading surface. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

If you are planning to make pretzel rolls, cut the dough into 6 pieces. Form each piece into a bun shape, then quickly dip it into the baking soda solution and place it on the baking sheet. Do the same with the rest of the pieces.

If you are making pretzel bread, cut the dough into 3 pieces. Roll each segment between your hands until you have made a rope of even thickness about 12-14 inches long. Dip the three pieces into the baking soda solution and lay them side-by-side in the cookie sheet. Pinch one of the ends together, then braid the ropes across to the the other side. Pinch that end together, too.

Bake the buns for 20-30 minutes, the bread for about 40 minutes. They are done when the crust is browned and has a slightly hollow sound when you knock on it. Brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with the coarse salt before serving.

Makes 1 loaf or 6 large pretzel buns.


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