Monday, December 10, 2007

Pretzel Rolls

Common in Chicago, Pretzel Rolls are buns for sandwiches, hot dogs or hamburgers, borrowing their name for that famous Bavarian Creation.  The chewy, slightly salted surface and soft interior is something unique.

They're a little bit of time to make, but once you've had them, plain bread for ham and cheese sandwiches, bratwurst or burgers is going to seem rather boring. They're wonderful freshly made, heated on a griddle or cold with lunch meats, but do freeze well, thawing quickly.

Pretzel Rolls

1 3/4 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 and a generous 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups King Arthur's bread flour
3/4 teaspoon plus one pinch salt (just slightly less than 1 full teaspoon)
Coarse salt for sprinkling

Water Bath
7-8 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
4 tablespoons baking soda

Warm the milk to 110 degrees. F.  (bathwater warm). Do NOT scald. Stir in the yeast.  Remove from heat and let the mixture stand until it starts to foam (means the yeast is working) 5-8 minutes. Add in the olive oil, stir, and add three cups of the flour and the salt.

Kneed the dough in a big clean bowl with a dough hook for 5 minutes, adding the additional 1/2 cup flour as needed.  It should remain a bit tacky, but clean the sides of the bowl.  Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface and kneed lightly by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic (another minute).

Place the dough in a well oiled bowl and turn it over so that both sides are oiled. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rise where it's neither cold or drafty (an oven is idea) until it's double in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how cold it is in the work area. 

If the bread is in the oven, remove and preheat it to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Punch the dough down and  drop it on down to a clean floured surface, dividing into 8 pieces. Form each piece of dough into a ball, slightly flattened. Place the dough balls on the lined baking pan, cover and allow to rise for an additional 20 minutes.

While the buns rise, prepare a water bath.  Not for you, for the buns.  It's not hard. and if you've made bagels you've already done this before.  In a large, deep cooking pot, bring water, salt and baking soda to a rolling boil.  The dough at this point is a little sticky, so put a little flour on clean hands to help in handling them. Gently drop the buns (I use a large slotted spoon so not to splash) into the boiling water, a couple at a time, and let them boil for about half a minute on each side.  Remove with a slotted spoon and place on the lined baking pan.  Using a serrated bread knife, cut a couple lines across each bun and sprinkle with course salt.  When all the buns are "poached" and on the pan, bake for 25-30 minutes until the buns are a deep brown color.  Cool on a wire rack.

You may never eat a regular hamburger bun again.

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