I have a bit of an obsession with pretzel rolls. As in, it’s borderline embarrassing. One summer when I lived with my parents, we used to frequent a restaurant that had a different type of bread basket every day of the week. Each time I set foot in those doors I wished and hoped and dreamed that it would be pretzel roll day. In fact, as soon as we sat down my dad would immediately say to the server, “Well, we know what Katie’s thinking…do you have pretzel rolls today?”
This conversation would be fine if I was referring to me at the age of 10 or younger, but nope, I was 18 when this started happening. Yes, I was a college student, home for the summer, so obsessed with pretzel rolls that her dad asked if they were available as soon as we were seated.
My fascination with the salty, airy rolls has only grown since then. I see pretzel rolls on a menu, I do an internal victory dance. I see pretzel rolls at the grocery store, and they’re immediately in my cart, without any memory of me even placing them there. Sadly, the grocery-store variety has failed to meet my high pretzel roll standards. After two recent disappointing purchases of spongey white bread with a misleadingly darker crust yet NO actual pretzel flavor, I decided to make my own pretzel roll dreams come true. Sure, I saw the danger in this choice, since I lack self control where pretzel rolls are concerned. For this reason, I chose to make them with whole wheat flour. Balance, baby. Salty, yeasty, chewy balance.
Whole Wheat Pretzel Rolls
Adapted from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.
- 5 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, unbleached
- 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
- 4 cups lukewarm water
- 2 tablespoons sugar (for boiling water)
- 1/4 cup baking soda (for boiling water)
- 1 egg white (for glaze)
- Kosher salt (for sprinkling on top)
In a large (5 quart) bowl, whisk together the flours, yeast, salt, and wheat gluten. Pour in the lukewarm water, and stir with a wooden spoon to form a loose dough. You may need to get in there with wet hands to make everything come together. Do not knead. Cover loosely (not airtight), and allow to rise for two hours. It should nearly double in size. Once it’s done rising, store it in the fridge for up to 14 days.
When you’re ready for some pretzel rolls, sprinkle flour on top of the dough, and use floured hands to grab a small handful of dough. Curve the sides of the dough underneath each other to form a small ball.
Use a serrated knife to cut an “x” in the top of the roll, then cover with plastic wrap and let rise for another 20 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough (depending on how many you want to make).
While they’re rising, set a pizza stone in the oven and preheat it to 450. You want the pizza stone to preheat with the oven because it will help your rolls bake evenly.
Once your oven’s heating up, bring a large pot of water to a boil, and then reduce it to a simmer. Add the sugar and baking soda, and then drop the rolls in the water, no more than three at a time, and let them boil for 30 seconds on each side. Remove each roll with a slotted spoon, and set on a pizza peel covered in cornmeal (or a sheet of parchment paper).
Use a fork to lightly beat an egg white in a small bowl. Brush each roll with the egg white, and then give each roll a hefty sprinkling of kosher salt.
If you’re baking your rolls directly on the pizza stone, throw some additional cornmeal on the stone right before putting the rolls in the oven. After all, wouldn’t it be heartbreaking if after all this work the rolls got stuck? You’ll want to cry…trust me, I know. If you’re using parchment paper, just transfer the rolls and the parchment onto the pizza stone.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, then place the rolls on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.
These are everything I hoped for and more. The salt sinks into a slightly crisp exterior, which then leads into a perfectly airy center with just the right amount of chewiness.
One of the best parts about these pretzel rolls? They’re easy to put together. Sure, they take some time, but you don’t need to learn how to knead, you don’t need a fancy stand-mixer with a hook attachment, you just need some time, some patience, and a large bowl. I don’t have much patience, but the fact that I plan on making these again (/pretty much all the time) is a testament to my pretzel roll love.
What should you do with all these pretzel rolls? Eat them on the side of lunch or dinner, dip them into soup, or use them as the ultimate burger bun (more on that later this week).