One of my all-time favorite sandwich shops is Village Cheese Shanty in beautiful Leland, MI (aka Fishtown). This gem is about a three-hour drive for us and is located in one of our favorite Northern Michigan towns. We try to vacation in the area as much as possible and this place is always one of our first stops. Much to our dismay, they are only open seasonly, as the town gets very sleepy in the winter months. So, while we dream of warmer months and sandwiches on their salty pretzel buns, I had to come up with something to hold us over. These are not necessarily a contender, but they will have to do. They are quite tasty, especially the day you make them. They are still enjoyable after the first day, but they do lose some of their good texture.
The best thing about these homemade pretzel rolls is they come together with little effort and with ingredients you likely have in your pantry. In this tutorial, I will guide you with details instructions and photos so you can't go wrong : )
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 packet active dry or instant yeast (2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
3 3/4 all-purpose flour, and a little more for work surface
coarse sea salt or Everything but the Bagel Seasoning for the top
Baking Soda Bath
1/2 cup baking soda
9 cups water
1. The first step is to make the dough. Start by checking the instructions on the yeast packet. Some will require whisking yeast and warm water together and having it sit for a minute, while the yeast we had didn't require that. Melt 1 tbsp of butter (save the rest for later). Measure 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour and add to bowl. Mix in 1 tsp salt, 1 tbsp brown sugar, and melted butter.
Mix with a wooden spoon or stand mixer with a dough hook until the dough is thick. If the dough is still sticky, add up to a 1/4 cup more slowly until it isn't sticky. One trick is to poke the dough with your finger, and if it bounces back, it is ready to for you to knead.
2. Now it's time to knead the dough. Lay the dough onto a floured surface and knead the dough for 3 minutes and shape it into a ball. At this point, if desired, you could freeze the dough for later use.
3. Then, you need to allow the dough to rise. Place the dough in a large bowl you've greased with butter and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Then preheat your oven to 200°F and turn it off before you put the dough in it. Allow the dough to rise in the warmed oven for 1 hour. The dough will nearly double in size, see the before and after pics below.
4. Once the dough has risen, bring a 1/2 cup of baking soda and 9 cups of water to a boil in a large pot to prepare for the baking soda bath.
5. Then, punch dough down to release any air bubbles. Lay out onto a lightly floured surface and with a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut dough into 1/3 cup sections. You should have about 12. Shape into balls.
6. Prepare for baking. Preheat oven to 400°F while you move onto the baking soda bath. You'll also want to line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper so it's ready for the dough.
7. Baking soda bath time! Drop 1-2 pretzel rolls at a time into the boiling water for 20-30 seconds each. If you put more than that in at a time, you risk your pretzels having a metallic taste. As you remove the rolls out of the water, allow as much of the excess water to drip off. Place pretzel rolls onto a baking sheet. They will look a little slimy and wrinkly, but trust me, it will be worth it! IMPORTANT! While each step is important, the baking soda bath is imperative!! It’s what gives pretzels their flavor, texture, and soft inside.
8. Time to butter them up! Melt the remaining butter, 3 tbsp, and lightly brush each roll with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse sea salt or our favorite, Everything but the Bagel Seasoning. Finally, use a sharp knife to score a few slits into the top of each roll.
9. Bake! for 22-25 minutes, or until deep golden brown on all sides.
10. Remove from the oven and serve warm. Pretzel rolls may be stored for a couple days, but they lose some of their texture and flavor.
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