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Friday, March 19, 2010

Laugenbroetchen (aka German Bretzel rolls)

Last May, my mom and I ate at a fantastic German organic bistro that served sandwiches on bretzel rolls while we were traveling in Chicago.  The cafe, Hannah's Bretzels, pretty much blew me away.  They use fresh, quality, local and nutritious ingredients to prepare a delicious meal.  Their facebook descriptions lists them as:  "Chicago's 1st Earth Conscious quick service sandwich business focusing on Organic Ingredients and Whole Grain nutrition + the Environment."  They even do their deliveries on a bike!  Ah. Maze. Ing.  

The only downfall?  Currently, their only locations are in the Loop.  Thus, they are opened for limited hours to accommodate the business crowds.  Obviously, this is resourceful from the business standpoint, but I couldn't help but crave their sandwiches during non-business hours.  And well, since we don't live in Chicago, there isn't much I can do when I am craving a sandwich at 9pm on a Sunday evening.

So, I've become accustomed to making up my own bretzel rolls and recreating some of the shop's sandwiches.  I will admit that this bretzel recipe is not as good as Hannah's, but it certainly fills the void.  I'm proud to admit that my yeast/bread making skills are improving.  I get some type of sick pleasure kneading my own dough, despite having a machine that could easily do it for me.  These are great for sandwiches.  They also remind me of something you'd see included in the traditional German breakfast spread.  Several years have passed since my trip to Germany, but their breakfasts are unbelievable!  All of the local meats, cheeses, bread, fresh yogurt!  I want to go back...

Every blue moon, I crave a ham and swiss sandwich.  So, I made up a ham and swiss for my bretzel sandwich and paired with... pretzels!  The recipe makes 8 rolls so we have some left over.  I think I'll shoot for an egg sandwich this evening!
Pretzel Rolls
adapted from Fake Ginger
Yield:  8 servings
  • 2 3/4 c bread flour
  • 1 envelope quick-rising yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 c + 2 tbsp (about) hot water (125 degrees F - 130 degrees F)
  • Cornmeal
  • 8 c water
  • 1/4 c baking soda
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 egg white, beaten to blend (for glaze)
  • coarse salt
  1. Combine bread flour, yeast, salt, sugar, and water in large bowl (or stand mixer) and stir until dough comes together in a ball.
  2. Put on floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes or until the dough is elastic and smooth.
  3. Grease medium bowl; add dough to bowl, turn to coat.
  4. Cover bowl w/ plastic wrap, then towel; let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 35 minutes.
  5. Flour baking sheet.  Punch dough down and knead on lightly floured surface until smooth.
  6. Divide into 8 pieces; form each dough piece into a ball.
  7. Place dough balls on prepared sheet, flattening each slightly.
  8. Using serrated knife, cut X in top center of each dough ball.
  9. Cover with towel and let dough balls rise until almost doubled in volume, about 20 minutes.
  10. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  11. Grease another baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal.
  12. Bring 8 cups water to boil in large saucepan.  Add baking soda and 2 tbsp sugar (water will foam up).
  13. Add 4 rolls X side up and cook 30 seconds before flipping over and cooking for another 30 seconds.
  14. Using slotted spoon, transfer rolls to prepared sheet, arranging X side up.
  15. Repeat with remaining rolls.
  16. Brush rolls with egg white glaze.  Sprinkle rolls generously with coarse salt.
  17. Bake rolls until brown, about 25 minutes.
  18. Transfer to racks and cool 10 minutes.  Serve warm or room temperature.

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