My entire body was engulfed with sound as I dipped a dainty slice of pretzel roll into the creamy Dijon mustard sauce. I could feel the vibrations of a catchy jingle coming from the TV through the hardwood floor and up my bare feet. I wondered to myself at that moment, “Should I have added more salt?”
While Brent twiddled and fiddled with his expensive new surround sound system, I was evaluating the flavor balance of my latest pretzel roll creation. I poked, chewed, analyzed, and evaluated each bite to make sure the outcome was exactly what I wanted. Brent said they tasted good and went back to fiddling with yet another remote. Ironically, the owner’s manual was perfectly wrapped in its original packaging. I returned to the comforting hum of my Kitchen Aid mixer and added more salt. It was just another quiet evening at home.
Golden Pretzel Rolls
1 cup warm milk, at least 120 degrees
1 tsp. quick-rising yeast, about half a packet
1 Tbl. brown sugar
2 – 3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbl. warm water
Outfit your mixer with the dough hook attachment. Add the milk, yeast and brown sugar in the mixing bowl. Stir with your clean fingers until the sugar and yeast has dissolved. Let the mixture rest for 1 minute to allow the yeast to activate. With the mixer on low, slowly add two cups of flour to the wet ingredients. Next add the salt. Adding salt after the flour is a critical component of this process. Salt retards the growth of yeast, and the flour creates a buffer. Slowly add the remaining flour until the dough has become smooth, the flour is incorporated and the mound pulls from the sides. You may need to adjust the milk or flour to get the right consistency.
Slowly increase the speed of the mixer until you reach the high setting. Continue to knead the dough in the mixer on this speed for approximately five minutes. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a damp towel and set in a warm place. Allow the dough to rise for at least 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Lightly beat the egg and 1 Tbl. of water in a small bowl. Set aside. Dump the dough on a floured cutting board and lightly pat it into the shape of a square. It should measure about 9” x 9” and be almost ¾” thick. Cut into about 10 – 15 squares and shape them into small balls. Cut a small “X” on the top of each ball.
Slowly drop the balls into the boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Flip and cook for an additional 1 minute. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. Make sure the “X” is facing up.
Brush the top of each ball with the egg mixture and sprinkle kosher salt over the entire batch. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes. The baking time varies based on the size of the dough balls and the length of the boiling time. The tops will be golden brown and the interior will be chewy.
Authors Note: Baking is more of a science than an art. It’s easy to be intimidated by the process. In fact, I rarely bake things that require yeast from scratch because it takes so much time. But there are times when I just want to knead some dough. Don’t be afraid and just dig in. Who knows you might just surprise yourself.