Sourdough Pretzle-buns with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Mustard-Onion Glaze

This recipe was inspired by a sourdough recipe found @ . It is made entirely with wild yeast, sourced from sourdough starter and will make a dozen 3 oz rolls.

Soft pretzels have a long history, originating in Germany and France during the middle ages. German settlers brought them to Philadelphia in the 18th century. By the early 20th century they were available in a number of large American cities including New York and Chicago. In New York, where I grew up, they are available from street vendors, who sell them warmed on the same coals as the roasted chestnuts. When I was a child they were all salted and served with or without mustard, today you can find them with alternate toppings and flavoring.  These sourdough rolls are glazed with a honey mustard mixture, creating a taste that is reminiscent of mustard slathered pretzels. My "taste testers" at home made the point that these sourdough rolls are best with savory fillings or spreads - split and baked with cheddar cheese or served as a hamburger roll as examples, They are also delicious with a bit of mustard-butter.  The dough is a bit under-salted which will keep them in balance with savory fillings.

The more often I bake using sourdough, the less intimidating I find it to be. Yes, I have to be a bit more organized, I'm not going to wake up on Sunday morning and have a sourdough bread baked and cooling by Sunday evening if I haven't given thought to feeding the starter the previous day; however, I'm finding the experience fulfilling enough to push myself to occasionally be more plan-ful about my baking than usual.  I have had a starter bubbling (and surviving!) in the fridge for about a year, my personal baking challenge will be to see it survive through Passover this year.

If you have a mature starter then this recipe will be very straight forward. Second best choice would be to find a friend who will give you some of her/his starter, feed it and 8-12 hours later you'll be good to go. Least easy will be to start a starter after you read through this recipe. In that case, give yourself a week or 10 days of planning.  I have starter instructions on BreadandBabka , but you can also check King Arthur Flour , or Rose Levy Beranbaum  on . 

Having a complicated busy day does not preclude sour dough baking (or any yeast baking for that matter).  Although the dough will need crucial proofing (rising) periods, you can alter those periods of time a bit by chilling the dough (in the refrigerator) or speeding up proofing a bit by using a proofing box or warm oven. If the dough is left too long, don't fret, feed it a bit, stretch and fold and let it rise again. Although timing is important, you can manage to keep time on your side.

This project will take the better part of a day and a half- in increments. It will not take up your entire day,  you'll just need to attend to it now and then. Feed your mature starter and let it rest at room temperature for 8-12 hours. Then mix the dough and proof in a warm location for 4-6 hours. At this point you can slow it down, cover and place in the refrigerator and let proof overnight. After the dough has just about doubled it will still be puffy and perhaps a bit bubbly, but still sticky and disorganized.  4-6 "stretch and folds" will help the gluten further organize. Proofing for an hour or two after this will give the dough it's final push toward a highly stretchable , organized bread dough. Pretzels are boiled in a baking soda water bath prior to baking. The short boiling helps form a crust on the outside of the roll, similar to the process used in making bagels. After boiling the rolls are slashed (I use a scissors), glazed and baked in a very hot (425 degree) oven.

Note: This dough contains high-gluten flour . You can use "bread flour," which has 13-14% protein. Pillsbury, Gold Medal and King Arthur hover around 13%, Higher gluten dough (King Arthur High Gluten or King Arthur Sir Lancelot)  has about 14% protein. The final product benefits from the use of as high a gluten flour if you can obtain it.

Electric mixer/stand mixer and large mixing bowl
measuring spoons, cups
mixing spoon
2 baking sheets and parchment paper
optional, but great for drafty cooler kitchens like mine; a proofing box

8.2 oz  (1cup) fed sourdough starter
10 oz  (1 1/4 cup) warm water
6 oz (scant 1 1/2 cup) high gluten flour
10 oz (2 1/2 cup) all purpose flour OR a combination of all purpose and white whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp non diastatic malt powder or honey
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp kosher salt
2 oz (1/4c packed) diced sun dried tomatoes

Water bath:
4 quarts water
1 Tbsp salt
1/4cup baking soda

1 Tbsp honey mustard
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp dried onion flakes
1/2 tsp kosher salt

1. Pre-measure all of the ingredients. Line the pans with parchment paper.  Mix the flours. Pour the diastatic malt powder into the water and mix into the flours. Beat at a slow speed until the flours are hydrated.

3. Add the fed sourdough into the flour mixture and mix at slow speed. Add the salt to the oil and add to the mixture. Continue mixing, increase speed to medium. Continue mixing until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. This may take 5-7 minutes. The dough should be smooth and stretchy.

4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in a draft free place.  I have a proofing box with adjustable warmth.  The dough most efficiently proofs at 78-80 degrees; however, I wanted to slow down the proof and give it a slower rise (over about 7 hours) and set the temperature at 71. You can also place the dough in an oven that has been pre-warmed to 80 degrees (and then shut off!). If you'd like to take a longer break, say 10-12 hours, place the dough in the refrigerator.  The rested dough should be very puffy and at least double in bulk.

5. Scrape the dough out of the bowl and onto a lightly floured surface. It will be sticky and unformed.

6. Stretch and fold for 4-5 repetitions, this will help build up the gluten strands and strengthen the dough. There are four steps to stretch and fold.  Pat the dough into a rectangle, with the longer side perpendicular to the work surface. Pull and fold the top portion of the dough over the dough and toward the middle. Stretch and fold the bottom portion up toward the center. 

6. Rotate the rectangle 90 degrees and repeat (pulling and folding the top toward the center and then pulling and folding the bottom up toward the center).  After 3-4 cycles the dough will become supple and feel puffy and begin to hold its shape. 

After you've repeated the pattern 4 times, scatter 1/3 sun dried tomatoes onto the rectangle, stretch and fold, rotate the dough. Repeat 3 times. It's OK if pieces of tomato are visible.
See the short video below. 

7. The dough should feel springy to the touch. Gather it into a ball, cover and let rest until approximately 1/3 greater in volume. This will take between 1-3 hours depending on the ambient temperature of the room. You can hasten the process by placing in a warm draft-free place.

8. Divide the proofed dough into 12 equal pieces (they will be about 3 oz each). Shape into small balls and place on the two prepared baking sheets. Let rest until they begin to puff a bit (20 minutes- 1 hour). Preheat the oven to 435 degrees.

9. While the small balls of dough are resting, prepare the water bath and bring to a boil. Mix the ingredients for the glaze.

10.  Carefully lifting one piece of dough at a time, slip into the water bath. Boil for 30 seconds, turn over and continue to boil for another 30 seconds. Slip back onto the baking sheet. Repeat for the six rolls on the first baking sheet.

11. Cut an "x" with a scissors on the top of each roll. The slit should be 1/4-1/2 inch deep. Wash each roll with the mustard glaze.

12. Slip into the hot oven, lower the heat to 425 and bake 20- 25 minutes until browned.
13. Repeat with the second baking sheet.

14. Store in a plastic bag, at room temperature for up to 2-3 days. If you will not be using them in that time, double wrap and freeze. The rolls will be very firm, with irregular holes in the crumb. The sour dough in my kitchen does not yield a very sour tasting bread, you can increase the "tartness" of your dough by adding 1/4 - 1/2 tsp citric acid (sour salts) when you mix the dough. 

Sourdough Pretzel rolls used as a hamburger bun 
Baking with sourdough or any dough starter creates a final product with a different character than bread baked with commercial yeast. Coaxing dough using wild yeast is interesting and surprising.

Comments and observations are welcome!

If you like baking with sourdough , perhaps you'd like to try Bread and Babka's Sourdough Honey Challah


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