The Fresh Loaf

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Sourdough Beer Pretzel Rolls with Caramelized Onions

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isand66's picture

Sourdough Beer Pretzel Rolls with Caramelized Onions

 I've made German Pretzel Rolls many times now and they are always a hit at parties and just one of the best types of breads to make.  I usually make the original version using yeast and bread flour but I've made them with some dark rye and sourdough starter before as well.

This time I wanted to push the envelope a bit and used beer instead of water and added some caramelized onions to really kick it up a notch.

To get that authentic pretzel color and crust you must use Lye but if you really are afraid you can use baking soda.



For Lye Bath (3.5% Solution

2 Liters (1836 grams) of Cold water

70 grams Sodium Hydroxide Crystals



Sauté an onion cut into rings in olive oil on medium to low heat until they are caramelized and allow to cool.

Add the diastatic malt powder to the water and stir.  Add the flours in your mixing bowl and slowly add the water mixture.  Mix for about 1 minute until combined.  Cut your starter in pieces and lay on top of the flour mixture and cover and let rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour so the flour can absorb the water.

Next add the salt and mix for 3 minutes on low.  Now add the caramelized onions and mix on low for 1 minute to incorporate.  Place the dough in a slightly oiled bowl and do a couple of stretch and folds.  Cover the bowl and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.  Do another stretch and fold in the bowl and let it rest another 10-15 minutes.  Do another stretch and fold and let the dough sit out in the covered bowl for another 1.5 hours.  Place the dough in the refrigerator until ready to bake the next day.

When ready to bake take the dough out and leave it covered in your bowl for 2 hours.  Next divide the dough into around 10 pieces that are 110 grams each.  Flatten each piece into a circle and place a piece of cheese in the middle and pinch the dough around the cheese.  Next flip over and roll against your work surface while creating a tight ball.  Place on a baking sheet and cover with either a moist towel or plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray.  Let it rest for around 60 minutes to about 1/2 proof.

While the rolls are proofing, fill a large stock pot with 2 liters of cold water.  Measure out the Lye and slowly add it to the cold water.  (DO NOT EVER ADD LYE TO HOT WATER).  Cover the pot and bring it to a rolling boil and then shut off the heat.

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.  When the rolls are proofed sufficiently, prepare to dip them for about 15 seconds in the lye bath upside down.  Let them drain on a bakers rack over a cookie tray covered with a towel or parchment paper.  After draining for a minute you can transfer them to a cookie/baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  You want to use a stainless steel cooking sheet as aluminum may react with the lye and peel.  Note: do not ever use parchment paper as the rolls will get stuck to the bottom.  I know this from experience and I had to cut off the bottoms of half the rolls I made.

When ready to bake, score each roll with an "X" on the middle and sprinkle with pretzel salt.  Make sure you use pretzel salt if you want authentic rolls.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes until they are golden brown and register about 200 F in the middle.  Let them cool on a bakers rack until you can't wait any longer!


Max loves the Snow....I can't wait for Spring!



Wingnut's picture

Quite Nice Ian.



isand66's picture

Thanks Wing.


dabrownman's picture

So which ones are better - the plain white and water ones or the beer, rye and caramelized onion ones?  Let me guess?  These are the better tasting?  Love the crust and the open crumb on these.  Max has to be as happy as can be to have snow to play in.  Lucy hopes he has snow around for a few more months.:-)

Happy baking Ian!

isand66's picture

Thanks DA.

These are more dense than the white version.  They are both great tasting in their own way and worth baking for sure.

I know Max loves the snow...but I have had enough.  We're supposed to get another 3 inches tonight...yay!


Darwin's picture

I love this sort of roll or bun, they taste great, have good texture and make great sandwiches!  Is food grade lye the correct item to look for?

Playing in the snow would be fun, but I am stuck here cleaning the yard and transplanting tomatoes.... darn, forgot to get jalapeno plants. 

isand66's picture


Yes it's food grade lye which I bought online.

Cant wait until the spring.  More snow on its way tonight!

FlourChild's picture

Ian, those look amazing- love the flours, the sd, the onions, authentic lye, everything.  Sending thoughts of warmer weather your way :)

isand66's picture

Thanks FlourChild. Always nice to hear from you.

Please send some strong thoughts this way!  More snow for Thursday is predicted....I'm so ready for Spring :).

FlourChild's picture

Alas, my thoughts were not strong enough as we are facing 20" of snow with this storm in the Northeast today.  Kids are happy, though :)

isand66's picture

I hear you!  We have about 6 inches so far with more on the way.  Not quite as bad as you though.

Have fun!  Great day to bake some cookies and bread!

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Hey can put caramelized onions in a pillow and I'd eat it...put them in pretzel buns like these and good night Johnny.

These are screaming for some melted sharp cheddar.


isand66's picture

Thanks John.  Nice to hear from you.

I agree, I love caramelized onions on just about anything.  There is a new pizza chain that opened by me called Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza and aside from great pizza they make grilled wings with caramelized onions that are awesome.  Nice and crispy with some tasty spices.

Hope to see some of your bakes on here again.  Hope your business is taking off and your winter is not as brutal as ours.


varda's picture

but boy those look good! -Varda

isand66's picture

Thanks.  Appreciate your comments as always.  Hope you're not getting hit with the same snow storm I am but I have a feeling you probably are.  Stay safe.