Pretzel Rolls – Success and Failure All In One

Sometimes I am too clever for my own good and it works against me.

When I decided to give making pretzel rolls a shot this afternoon, I pulled three recipes off the internet, as I usually do and then set to work. Drawing on my experience of making a few yeast breads in the past year (Fried Pita Bread and Homemade Hamburger Buns), I also decided to incorporate a few techniques I’ve enjoyed success with.

Selecting the ingredients from the recipes that I thought would work well together and then using the techniques I was familiar with, I whipped up a batch of pretzel dough in about 15 minutes. I let the dough rise 30 minutes and then prepared a pan of water for boiling the dough.

Unlike most bread doughs, pretzel dough is boiled prior to baking. I didn’t give this much thought until it came time to lift the dough from the parchment lined cookie sheets. The dough didn’t stick, because I’d sprayed it with cooking spray, but as I thought would happen when I lifted the dough, it began to deflate, as did my spirits.

I pushed forward, boiling each roll for 30 seconds to 1 minute per side and then awkwardly transferred them back to a cookie sheet, and watched in horror as the rolls puffed slightly in the water and then again slightly deflated when put on the tray.

Hopeful that the warm oven would remedy the deflation, I finished the boiling process, sprinkled each roll with kosher salt, made some decorative slits in them, and put them in the oven.

Eleven minutes later I pulled my rolls from the oven and this is what they looked like.

DSCF1093

They don’t look TOO bad, but they are certainly not at all like the puffy, round rolls that were pictured in the recipes I saw on the internet. The true test would be how they tasted.

I broke one in half, burning my hands in the process, wrapped it in a paper towel, and blew on it for a moment. Then I bit into it. It was somewhat crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, and the flavor was exactly like the soft pretzels I’ve bought from vendors at county fairs.

The success was that they tasted great. The failure…well they aren’t going to cut it tonight for using as hot dog or hamburger buns.

Grace is on her way to the store to pickup buns for dinner and I am staring at my rolls. So what did I do wrong? Was it the mixing up of ingredients? Was it the technique I used to make the dough? Was it the inability to get the rolls into the boiling water without deflating them?

I have no idea where I went wrong, but the taste alone gives me hope that I can do this, it’s just going to take a few more tries and perhaps a little more diligence in following a recipe as written first and then making adjustments from that point. For now, Grace ate one before she left and told me that although it might not work for hot dogs, she could eat them all herself.

These buns might not make it to the dinner table yet, but for now we’ll enjoy eating them as a soft pretzel roll, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

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