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Project Breadway: Pretzel Rolls, or, The Price of Hubris

Well, I deserved it. I was coasting. A few days ago, Violetgatesy had alerted me to the existence of something called "Pretzel Rolls," and I thought, hey, that sounds interesting and simple and something I could bang out in a few hours as a nice lull from the complications of my multi-day, multi-stage Peter Reinhart recipes. Not much kneading, no overnight ferments or steam blasts, piece o' cake!

You can see what's coming, right?

So here's the basic recipe:

1 packet active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2-3/4 cups bread, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
Vegetable oil
1/3 cup baking soda

-Mix the water, sugar and yeast in a large bowl until the yeast activates. Add the flour and salt and mix well, until dough is smooth and just a bit sticky. Form into a ball, mist with oil, cover, let rise until doubled in size, about one hour.

La, la, la, this is so easy…

-Punch dough down, knead for five minutes or so until smooth. Divide dough into 4-6 pieces (I went with five), shape into 3" x 5" oblong rolls, place on lightly oiled parchment-lined baking sheet and score with 3 or 4 diagonal slices on top. Allow to rest another 20-30 minutes.


What could be simpler?

Preheat oven to 425, and set a large pan of water to boiling. Add the baking soda to the water, stir, then add two or three rolls at a time, poach for two minutes per side.

Wait a minute, why are they getting so swollen and so flat…?

Once out of the water, sprinkle generously with Kosher salt, bake for 12-15 minutes.

And DON'T get distracted by the bratwursts and apple-onion relish you're making to go with and forget and leave them in for twenty minutes.

Yes, they are not quite burnt, but close. And flat, and rather sad-looking.


HOWEVER, once sliced open and decorated with a mustardy brat and some kraut and apple-onion relish, I gotta say: ugly doesn't taste half bad.


So the lesson today, baking friends: keep your head in the game, especially when you think the game is easy enough to phone in.

Happy baking, Groupthink!

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