New food trends sometimes pop up in clusters like mushrooms after a heavy rain.

Fortunately, they’re safer to eat, and the good ones last a little longer.

Pretzel rolls are one of those items — totally obscure a year ago, they’re suddenly everywhere from the drive-through to one of the area’s top destination restaurants.

“They’ve been very popular,” Kris Harrup, assistant manager at Number 13, the recently opened steakhouse on Galveston’s Offatts Bayou.

The upscale restaurant brings pretzel rolls to each table as part of its breadbasket selection.

“They come in fresh every day from a bakery that makes them for us from the recipe we developed,” Harrup said.

The rolls arrive par-baked so the restaurant can bake them 

quickly as needed and serve them hot.

Number 13 also has found pretzel bread to be a popular sandwich item.

“We serve our steakhouse club on a pretzel bun, too,” Harrup said. “They’re going over really well.”

The pretzel bandwagon has rolled into the supermarket, too. Hot Pockets hand pies now have several varieties encased in pretzel bread, and the doyenne of dough, Sister Schubert, has added pretzel rolls to the lineup anchored by the billowy, buttery original Sister Schubert creation.

Making pretzel rolls or buns at home isn’t difficult. It does involve one extra step beyond regular bread-making in order to achieve the smooth, shiny brown crust that is the visual marker of the pretzel/bread hybrid.

After the rolls rise, they spend a few minutes in a hot bath to create their crust. Hot water spiked with an alkaline substance, often lye in commercial bakeries but usually baking soda for home cooking, pulls the dough together tightly.

Once the rolls emerge from the water, they are baked for a short time, just long enough to puff slightly but not so long that the crust becomes tough. They should be chewy but still tender.

While some recipes call for simply rolling round balls of dough, going the extra step of shaping pieces of dough in a long rope and twisting into a tight pretzel knot results in a roll that asserts its pretzel origins.

It’s actually easier than twisting a pretzel, because precise symmetry isn’t the goal; creating a tight ball without gaps is more critical.

Before shaping the rolls, however, it’s important to decide how they will be used. Dinner rolls, like those at Number 13, should be smaller than sandwich buns, which should be flattened slightly before baking to make a thinner, wider bun.

Pretzel rolls also can be shaped, without the twist, into logs for hot dog buns.

Many pretzel aficionados say the best part of a fresh-baked pretzel is the contrast in textures between the soft dough and the crunchy salt topping.

While that is an option for homemade pretzel rolls, there are other possibilities as well. Rolling the dough pieces in a cinnamon-sugar mixture yields more of a dessert or breakfast bun. Topping with grated cheese or red pepper flakes will make an even better sandwich bread.

Pretzel Rolls



34 cups warm water

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

34 teaspoon salt

412 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

14 cup nonfat dry milk

2 teaspoons instant yeast

Water bath

2 quarts water

1 tablespoon salt

14 cup baking soda


Coarse sea salt


Mix and knead the dough ingredients by hand, mixer or bread machine to make a smooth, slightly sticky dough.

Allow the dough to rise in a lightly greased bowl, covered, for about 1 hour, until doubled.

Gently deflate the dough and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface.

Divide the dough into 10 pieces and shape each piece into a smooth ball.

Place the balls on a lightly greased baking sheet, cover, and let rest for 15 minutes.

Water bath

While the rolls are resting, preheat the oven to 400. Bring the water, salt and baking soda to a boil in a large pot. Drop five dough balls at a time into the water bath.

Cook for 30 seconds, flip over and cook for 30 seconds longer. Using a slotted spoon, return the buns to the baking sheet. Repeat for the other five dough balls.

Using scissors or a sharp knife, cut 12-inch deep crosses into the center of each bun. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

Bake the buns for 20 to 24 minutes, or until they’re a deep-dark brown. Remove them from the oven and transfer them to a rack to cool.

(SOURCE: Recipe courtesy King Arthur Flour)

Crispy Pretzel Apple-salted Caramel Dessert


Pretzel Crisps

4 Sister Schubert’s Soft Pretzel Rolls, thawed

14 cup sugar

14 teaspoon ground cinnamon

5 tablespoons butter


2 tablespoons butter

2 Golden Delicious apples, diced

Pinch cinnamon

6 scoops vanilla ice cream

34 cup caramel dip

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut each roll into 4 or 5 thin slices and place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.

In a small bowl, combine cinnamon and sugar. Brush the top of each slice with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake the pretzel slices 5 to 7 minutes or until the edges are lightly golden.

In a skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter, add the apple pieces and cinnamon and sauté apples 3 to 5 minutes or until tender.

Microwave the caramel dip at 15-second intervals until warm.

To assemble, layer the pretzel crisps with warm apples, ice cream and warm caramel dip and serve.

(SOURCE: Recipe courtesy Sister Schubert’s Homemade Rolls)

Pretzel Sandwich buns


34 cups lukewarm water

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon salt

12 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

14 cup nonfat dry milk

2 teaspoons instant yeast

Water bath

12 to 2 quarts water

1 tablespoon salt

14 cup baking soda


Coarse sea salt, kosher salt or pretzel salt


Combine all of the dough ingredients and mix and knead to make a smooth, fairly soft dough. It’ll probably stick to the bottom of the bowl just slightly, if you’re kneading in a stand mixer.

Place the dough in a lightly greased 8-cup bowl and let it rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until it’s very puffy.

Gently deflate the dough and divide it into eight pieces. Pat each piece into a rough log, cover and let rest for 10 minutes to relax the dough’s gluten and make it easier to shape the rolls.

Roll each piece of dough into a 16-inch rope. Shape ropes into tight pretzels, tucking the two ends through the center and squeezing them together underneath. Press the rolls down gently, to flatten.

Lightly grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment. Place the rolls on the baking sheet, cover them and let them rest for 15 minutes.

Water bath

While the rolls are resting, preheat the oven to 400. Combine the water, salt and baking soda in a 10-inch to 12-inch shallow saucepan or deep skillet. The water should fill the skillet at least 114 inches deep; adjust the water amount accordingly. Bring the mixture to a boil.

Drop the rolls, three or four at a time, into the water bath. Cook for 30 seconds; turn over and cook for an additional 30 seconds.

Place the rolls back on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

Bake the rolls for 20 to 24 minutes, until they’re a deep golden brown. Cool the rolls on a rack.

Store the rolls at room temperature, tightly wrapped, for several days. Freeze the rolls for longer storage.

(SOURCE: Recipe courtesy King Arthur Flour)

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