Homemade Pretzel Rolls over July Fourth Weekend


How was your Fourth of July weekend? 

We kept ours extraordinarily low key mostly sticking close to home to avoid crowds since July 4th weekend is a big draw for tourism in our town. Even Iris knows that negotiating traffic in our neck of the woods isn't for the faint of heart. I caught her practicing her road rage expressions in the mirror while I was tidying the front room. 



I mentioned last week that lately we've been trying harder to be intentional with our family time and with the weekends overall, especially honoring Sunday as The Lord's Day. God calls us to rest as He did and spend the day in His word, recharging ourselves for the coming week. That's SO difficult to do as a busy mama that I have basically fought this Sabbath day every weekend for the last year and a half. Because if I am to rest on Sunday that means my Saturday is no longer going to be fun but will be packed with work, right? UGH... Cue my repressed angsty teenage self! 

Still, I reminded myself, as I often need to hear, that God designed the Sabbath for our good, not as a punishment so I dedicated my Saturday to preparation for a total day of rest by cooking and cleaning. I did a few loads of laundry, washed the dishes, made chicken and rice and chopped veggies, not just for Sunday but for the coming week and was feeling my spirits lift at the idea of not having to cook until Wednesday! I was also feeling the music coming from my iTunes and was clicked into such an industrious groove that I impulsively decided to make my homemade pretzel rolls (HPRs as they will lovingly be referred to going forth), especially since Josh doesn't exactly get excited about chicken. Who really does? (No offense if you do, and if you love chicken, could you message me your favorite chicken recipes please? I must know your secrets!)  

Usually I make HPR's for one of the Big Four meals: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's or Easter because they require a little bit of effort and sometimes a little bit of effort can feel like a whole LOT of effort when you have a little one running around and when like me, you combat fatigue from psoriatic arthritis. A lot of days I don't have quite enough energy to make it 18 hours so lots of things remain undone once that bone-aching fatigue sets in. But Saturday I was feeling good and Josh was entertaining Iris so I quickly assembled my ingredients and got to work on the beloved HPR's.  

HPR's are really delicious served as rolls or used for making sandwiches. Think turkey and melted swiss (or cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving) or leftover Christmas or Easter ham with a smear of mustard. They can be a nice vehicle for BEC (bacon, egg & cheese) too. I also conducted a little recipe experimentation this time around which I'll reveal below... 

Sold yet? 

Here's what you'll need to make 12-18 rolls: 

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon yeast (I use this)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 3/4-5 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • Water for boiling (and a pot to boil water in!)
  • Baking sheets lined with parchment paper
  • A little bit of patience and some stretchy pants 

1) In a bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of warm water with the sugar and yeast. I let it hang out for about 10 minutes until it gets really frothy.

2) In a large bowl mix the salt and flour. Add the melted butter, egg yolk, and the yeast mixture, which by now is very bubbly, and mix until combined. You can add a little more flour if you need to, just a little at a time, until the result is dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl and place it in a warm area away from any air vents. The dough will need about an hour to rise. Pretty much let it double in size.

3) When the dough has risen, divide it into 12 pieces. You can roll them into balls or make traditional pretzel shapes by rolling the dough into ropes and knotting them. Whether they look blobbish or anatomical doesn't matter. They are loved for their great taste and not their shape! Whatever you end up with, place them on a baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper. Cover them up (I used saran wrap loosely draped over the dough) and let them rise for 30 more minutes. Part of the experience of HPR is the anticipation of them! 

4) With this half hour of time, preheat your oven to 425 and wash the dishes you dirtied up so you will have less work to do later (the entire concept of honoring the Sabbath. Work now, rest later). :)

5) Bring about 6-8 cups of water to a boil. When the water begins to boil, add the baking soda just a little at a time. It's going to make a nice cirrus-like cloud and it will leave some spatter on your cook top but it wipes right up.  Later of course, because a clean surface is not worth the loss of fingerprints as I've learned. After you've added all of the baking soda, let the water come to a full boil again.

6) Working with one roll at a time, carefully place each roll into the bubbling cauldron. I use a slotted spoon to both gently drop in and scoop out the rolls. Boil for 30 seconds each side. Repeat with remaining dough balls.

7) Whisk together the reserved egg white and 2 tablespoons of water. Brush the egg white over the boiled dough and then sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 12-18 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheets. 

Go ahead and eat one while it's warm! You've earned it!! You'll find it to beautifully browned like it just got back from a week in the Caribbean. And the inside is warm, soft, and slightly flaky. Keep an oven mitt nearby for shooing your family members away if you hope to have any left for the meal. 


So I mentioned that I did a little recipe experiment with this batch. I decided to tinker with just one roll to give a sweet personality since I have a major sweet tooth! I sprinkled one HPR with cinnamon sugar and otherwise followed the same directions. Here's what happened. 


The finished result was a little blackened from the sugar burning and the cinnamon darkening but really it wasn't as bad as it might look. It was still incredibly edible! Next time I would use just cinnamon and sprinkle on sugar after baking to avoid the burn. Also, there's a good bit of salt in the dough of these pretzels and that wasn't unpleasant if you love sweet mixed with savory, but in the future, I would probably make a separate batch of just cinnamon sugar pretzels and would reduce the salt content by about half or 3/4s. I'd leave just a hint of salt so they still feel pretzely. 

Using powdered sugar and a scant amount of milk, I made icing to pour over my cinnamon sugar pretzel. Nothing scientific here, I simply kept adding sugar or milk until I got the right consistency. That will surely frustrate anyone who likes exact measurements, so here's a link to an  icing recipe

Mine was SO delicious that I really wanted to share it with Josh but he was out doing yard work since Iris was napping and I just couldn't make myself save him a bite! But it's ok, right? I mean he did waltz by and snitch a fresh hot roll off the pan.


Having spent a little time prepping meals and doing chores on Saturday, my Sunday was a beautiful day of rest that included listening to our preacher's last sermon before he retires, napping and cuddling on the couch with Iris, splashing in the pool, playing in the pillow fort, and enjoying family worship. Monday morning I really did feel refreshed! God always knows better than silly ole me!  



Plus here's some sweet shots from our bonus day of play on the actual Fourth! Iris enjoyed her first parade and we ate the traditional meal of our forefathers: hot dogs, chips, watermelon, and beer. Happy birthday America!


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