Pretzel Challah Rolls Recipe

This week has been delicious. Some of you saw the Pretzel Challah rolls I made for a special lunch yesterday. In case you're wondering, yes... they were as delicious as they looked. I ate two for lunch (with BBQ brisket), one for an afternoon snack and then another with grain mustard for dinner. I'm not even sorry. 

In fact, earlier this week I was chatting with Kallie, who interrupted our conversation so she could make a snack run to Bouchon (one of the things about New York I miss the most). She confessed she had had to restrain herself, lest she make a second lunch of their ham sandwich. "Kallie," I said. "Life is short. Eat two lunches as often as possible." This essentially sums up my entire approach to life.

Get the original recipe from Food 52  HERE .

Get the original recipe from Food 52 HERE.

The recipe I used for the Pretzel Challah Rolls came from Food 52, and is going into my weekly rotation as a staple. I love it for a thousand reasons, not the least of which is the flavor punch these little buns pack. I didn't tweak the recipe at all, which is almost unprecedented for me. Get the full recipe HERE. Consider this my love letter to these buns:

  • These rolls are so easy to make. Total hands-on time was maybe 15 minutes, total. I mixed the slurry and, while it was resting, pulled together the egg goop and the additional flour. I gave the slurry and the egg goop a quick mix right in the stand mixer bowl, dumped in the flour, turned on the dough hook and walked away for five minutes to make myself a cup of coffee. I came back and the dough was perfect and gorgeous and ready for the first proof. It was as simple as that. 
  • The dough is super simple to work with. The mixer bowl was easy to clean. The dough didn't stick to my fingers. You don't have to flour any work surfaces to knead it out. I sprayed my first proofing bowl with non-stick spray, thinking that surely the recipe meant to say the bowl should be oiled... It was completely unnecessary. This is the most agreeable dough I've ever worked with. It's like agreeing to babysit a small child and expecting it to be emotional and psychological warfare and instead discovering the kid likes to eat its veggies, has superb manners, brushes its teeth willingly, and goes to bed on time. 
  • The dough is really forgiving if you're lazy about that whole "divide into 12 equal sections" direction. I made myself a 10-inch guide (a measured line on a piece of parchment paper) so that I'd have a rough idea of how long each piece should be, and was committed to weighing each piece to ensure they were exactly perfect, so they'd bake at the same rate exactly. But then when it came time to actually divide the dough, I was watching Harry Potter and couldn't be bothered to think that hard and do math in my head so I eyeballed everything instead. The road to Hell, amiright? They all came out perfectly, anyway. This is the perfect lazy-girl dough. It compensates for all your shortcomings and still makes you look like a rock star.  
  • Proof the rolls (second proofing) on their parchment-lined baking sheet. It makes it so much easier when it comes time to boil them to have this pan already ready to rock and roll. The parchment paper might pucker a little bit, but don't worry about it. Parchment can suffer far worse abuses than a little puckering; the rolls will still bake perfectly. 
Proof that proofing on the parchment paper isn't the end of the world. Confession: I ate a pinch (or seven) of the dough.  It was so delicious. 

Proof that proofing on the parchment paper isn't the end of the world. Confession: I ate a pinch (or seven) of the dough. It was so delicious. 

  • Make an assembly-line when you boil them to keep things efficient. I have counter space on either side of my stove. I put the proofed buns on their parchment-lined pan to the left. My boiling water was in the center, and a cooling rack over a dish towel was on the right. I turned a stopwatch on and dropped three rolls at a time into the water. Instead of setting timers for 30-seconds, I just noted the time when they dropped in, flipped them at 30 seconds, pulled them at 60 seconds and laid them directly onto the drying rack. I egg-washed them on the drying rack, too, so that the excess could drain off (instead of doing it on the parchment-lined baking sheet, where it would have pooled up). In less than four minutes, all 12 rolls were par-boiled, dried, egg-washed, and ready to move back to the sheet pan and into the oven. 
  • Wash your boiling pan while it's still warm. As soon as I put the rolls into the oven I dumped and scrubbed the boiling water. The baking soda in it gets everywhere if you're not careful. I had a thin layer of caked-on baking soda on every surface in my kitchen, including, somehow, my face. This has nothing to do with the recipe and everything to do with the fact that I'm kind of a disaster in the kitchen.
  • Have grain mustard handy. I've had these with brisket and as an egg sandwich and plain and I'm telling you: dipped in a grain mustard is the best way to eat these bad boys. The crumb on them is even and not terribly delicate, and they keep it together if you slice them and use them as slider rolls (which I shall be doing forever and ever). I didn't have pretzel salt on hand so mine aren't topped with it. They'd be divine with it, but honestly... they don't need it. They're delicious either way. Om nom nom. 

Whatcha got cooking in your kitchen today?