The Bavarian pretzel is über good. You get a nice crunch as you bite into the crust and a delicious taste with the soft inside, and it's hard to resist another bite. It varies from those "ballpark pretzels" because they are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. Bavarian pretzels have their own taste, and they work great with any meal and make a perfect snack.
During family visits to Germany (every European trip somehow involved a Germany visit), Laugenbrötchen were always a well-liked snack during our trips. (Pssst, Dad, you like that I threw in the German name? It's easier to type the name than to pronounce it!) Finding good Bavarian pretzels in the US is not easy, so as I became better in baking, tackling Bavarian pretzels was a must. Since they get 2 thumbs up from my family, I incorporated them into my sister's graduation party luncheon menu as sandwich rolls for roast beef sandwiches.
Truly authentic Bavarian pretzels are soaked in lye. Rubber gloves, caustic fluids, and eye goggles make me a little nervous, so I've substituted a baking soda bath.
These rolls are wonderful stuffed with your favorite sandwich ingredients. For a summer grilling twist, instead of grilling your bratwursts, turn your bratwursts into "brat-patties" and use these pretzel rolls for buns!
Bavarian-Style Pretzel Rolls (Laugenbrötchen)
Yields 15 pretzel rolls
1 tbsp. dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. softened unsalted better
2 tbsp. instant yeast
30 oz. bread flour
1 tbsp. plus 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
8 cups water
1/4 cup baking soda, for dipping
1 egg white, beaten to blend (glaze)
Coarse sea salt or pretzel salt, for sprinkling
In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment (or in a mixing bowl), stir together dark brown sugar, butter, yeast, 2 cups warm water, and half of the flour. Add the kosher salt and remaining flour, and stir until the mixture becomes a "shaggy mass."
Swap the paddle attachment for the dough hook (or turn dough onto counter), and knead for 8 to 10 minutes until smooth and supple.
Roll each dough into a small ball, and transfer onto an ungreased baking sheet. Allow dough to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Using a dough slasher (I know, it sounds brutal) or serrated knife, cut "X" in the top center of each dough ball, and then refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 425ºF. Grease another baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal. Bring 8 cups water to boil in large saucepan. Add baking soda, and water will foam up. Add 4 rolls and cook 30 seconds per side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer rolls to prepared sheet, arranging "X side up." Repeat with remaining rolls.
Brush rolls with egg white glaze. Sprinkle pretzel rolls with salt. Bake about 15 minutes or until deep brown. Remove to a rack and allow to cool.
Note: Pretzels and pretzel rolls are best when eaten the same day, but will keep at room temperature, uncovered, for two days. Do not store in a covered container, or they will become soggy.