Mini Pretzel Rolls
We recently hosted a party for my dear friend Lisa in celebration of her graduation from culinary school. As you might expect, it was all about the food. Chef Lisa, who will be opening her restaurant Bread & Wine in Chicago this fall, planned the party menu and shared her vision with me. With forty of her closest family and friends planning to attend, including her business partner and friend Jenny, it was a perfect opportunity to test prospective menu items for their restaurant. I was in charge of executing her plan. Yikes.
At the top of Lisa’s party wish list was the “Bread & Wine” Burger served on a pretzel roll. “Are you sure you want a pretzel roll?” I asked. It’s time for a confession: I don’t care for pretzels–not soft ones, not hard ones, not minis or sticks, not sourdough, not Bavarian. You get the picture. It’s nothing deeply rooted like my absolute disdain for Jello; there are simply far more edibles I prefer over pretzels.
“Yes, I’m sure,” Lisa said. I reminded myself that it was her party after all. Besides, I’m always game to try something new, including pretzel rolls.
We wanted small bites and nothing that would require—heaven forbid—putting your cocktail down. So we scaled the burger down into a slider. Then came the challenge of finding pretzel rolls small enough for sliders. After too many phone calls and bakery visits, I came up empty handed. “I’ll just make them,” I said to my husband after another dead end call. He tried to talk me out of it. He’s watched my good intentions in the kitchen crash and burn—literally—one time too many. To put his mind at ease, I vowed to do a test batch before the big day. And guess what? They were easy—24 piping hot, deeply golden rolls in just under an hour. An hour! But the biggest surprise came when I tasted one; they were amazing. The crust was thin with a delicate crunch that gave way to a light and slightly sweet interior. Chef Lisa knew best—they were the perfect partner for the “house” burger.
The party was a success thanks to Lisa’s delicious vision and the wonderful friends who helped pull it all together. And I’ve added pretzel rolls to my list of favorites. This is why I love to experiment; the more things I try, the more I realize what I’ve been missing.
Mini Pretzel Rolls
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons instant dry yeast (or one 0.25oz packet)
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 1/3 cups warm water
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 quarts water
1/2 cup baking soda
coarse sea salt
- Combine the flour, yeast, and brown sugar in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. In a small bowl stir together the warm water, milk, and melted butter.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Mix on low speed for 3 minutes once the ingredients have come together in a ball. The dough should be soft and pliable and not sticky. Add more flour or water as needed. (You can make the dough without a mixer. Once the dough comes together, transfer it to a floured board and knead for 5-7 minutes, until smooth and elastic.)
- Using a scale, portion the dough into even pieces and set them on a floured board. A 2.5 ounce portion works for a traditional burger bun. For sliders you’ll want 1.25-1.5 ounce dough ball. Cover dough with oiled plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Shape the dough balls into rolls. Arrange them on a lightly floured surface 1-inch apart and cover with oiled plastic wrap. Let the rolls rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats.
- In a large stockpot, bring the cold water and baking soda to a rolling boil.
- Drop the rolls into the boiling water 2 at a time. Boil for 20 seconds total, turning once. Carefully remove with a slotted spoon and place on the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle lightly with the coarse salt. Repeat with the remaining rolls.
- Make a ½-inch deep slash across the top of each roll with a small, sharp knife. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the tops are the color of dark caramel (or, uhm, until they look like pretzels). Shift pans from top to bottom and back to front halfway through for even baking.
- Let rolls cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack.
Makes 24 rolls.