By now, you guys know how much I love soft pretzels. Is it not obvious? So last winter, I set out to make a less dense version into some pretzel rolls; rolls that would be the perfect soup dipper or even better as the vessel for a great sandwich or burger. They turned out pretty good but too pretzel-y. Does that make sense?
These pretzels rolls though…oh.mah.gah. After my two not-so-successful attempts of tweaking other recipes last year, I came across this one last week and jumped all over it this past weekend. There was nothing about this recipe I would have changed. Seriously, these cheddar-filled soft pretzel rolls are everything they should be – soft and chewy, with a crumb that resembles an outstanding dinner roll and that distinctive slightly crusty pretzel shell when you bite into it.
The process to make these rolls is the same as for regular soft pretzels with a quick boil and bake but I filled the dough balls with some cheddar before boiling them. It was a simple addition that sort of took the rolls over the top – how could bubbly cheese oozing from freshly baked pretzel rolls ever be considered a bad thing? Nope. Never.
Feel free to use whatever type of cheese you want here or leave it out altogether and make regular pretzel rolls. To take these rolls completely over the top, add a few pieces of crumbled crisp bacon along with the cheese inside the rolls.
- 1 tbsp instant yeast
- 2 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
- 2 cups warm milk (about 100-110° F)
- 1 ½ cups warm water (about 100-110° F)
- 2 tsp salt
- 6 ½ - 8 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, cut into sixteen ½-ounce pieces
- 3 quarts water
- 1 tbsp sugar
- ¼ cup baking soda
- Coarse salt for sprinkling
- Mix the yeast, oil, milk, and water together in a very large bowl. Stir in the salt and 2 cups of the flour with a wooden spoon until incorporated. Mix in another 4 ½ cups until a soft dough forms. If the dough seems more like a thick batter, gradually stir in more flour by the half-cup up to a total of 8 ½ cups, until a soft dough forms. You may not need this much flour so use the range offered here as loose estimate.
- Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead the dough with your hands for 3-4 minutes, until it is smooth and just slightly tacky. Transfer the dough ball to a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm spot for 1 ½ to 2 hours until doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 425° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Light grease the paper or lightly spray it with cooking spray.
- Divide the dough on a work surface into 16 equal-sized pieces, lightly flatten each piece with your fingers, place a piece of cheese in the center, and wrap the dough up around the cheese. On the work surface, gently roll each piece into a ball. I find it easiest to roll the dough into balls on an un-floured surface but try to keep the dough you aren't rolling on a very lightly floured surface (to keep it from sticking) and under a lightly damp towel (to keep it from drying out).
- Transfer the dough balls to the baking sheets - eight dough balls per sheet. Loosely cover the dough with lightly greased plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest in a warm, draft-free spot for 15-20 minutes.
- At this point, you can freeze the dough on the parchment-lined baking sheets. Once completely frozen, transfer them to a large zipper bag and continue to freeze until you need them. Use within 2 months.
- While the dough rests and the oven preheats, bring the water, sugar, and baking soda to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Before gently lowering two or three pieces of dough into the boiling water, gently reshape them if needed into a smooth balls. Boil only 2-3 pieces at a time for about 1 ½ minutes, flipping halfway through. If boiling the frozen pretzels, add them to the water directly from the freezer - do not thaw them - and boil for a total of 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon, drain the water off each piece before transfer the pieces back to the parchment paper. The dough will probably look fairly misshapen and bubbly but don't worry - this will work itself out in the oven.
- With a sharp knife or razor, score two or three shallow slices in the tops of the rolls - try not to cut too deeply or the cheese will ooze out in the oven. Sprinkle the tops of the rolls with some salt. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until the tops are a deep golden brown. If the rolls were frozen, bake for an extra 1-2 minutes. The pretzel rolls are best served fresh and warm from the oven but they can also be reheated in the oven at 350° F until warmed through. Store leftover rolls in a zipper bag in the refrigerator.
adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe