The Fresh Loaf

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Sour Dough Pretzel Rolls 2021

Isand66's picture

Sour Dough Pretzel Rolls 2021

  I’ve been making pretzel rolls for years and I’m always tinkering with my formula to make them better.  Recently I started adding some butter to soften them a little and I really like the results.

This version had some fresh ground whole wheat added which bumped up the flavor.  I was very happy with the taste profile on these.

I decided to get creative and used some pastry cutters I had to give them a cool look.  I also used some scissor cuts for some more fun.

If you haven’t tried pretzel rolls yet, give these a try.

One note, if you use pretzel salt like I do on a portion of the rolls, you cannot cover the rolls with anything or the humidity in the air will react with the salt and you will get mushy salted rolls.  It’s best to freeze any you don’t use right away.

Lye really does make a big difference.  I know a lot of people are afraid to use it, but honestly you are using such a small amount in the water bath that unless you pour it in your eyes, it will do very little to your hands, etc.  The lye really gives you the authentic pretzel flavor and look.



Caution:  When using the Lye make sure you wear gloves, long sleeves and protective eye gear. Also, never add Lye to hot water or it will bubble over and probably burn you.



For Lye Bath (3.5% Solution

2 Liters (1836 grams) of Cold water

70 grams Sodium Hydroxide Crystals


Make the Levain

Add your seed starter (20 grams) to the indicated amount of flour and water and mix until incorporated.  Cover and let sit out at room temperature of in your proofer until nice and bubbly around 6-10 hours depending on your temperature.  Use immediately or refrigerate for a few days until ready to mix the main dough.


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 butter (Softened) and mix for 6 minutes on low.    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 pieces that are 110 grams each or 135 grams for larger rolls .  Shape as rolls and 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 450 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.  I actually use my Silpat non-stick sheets which work like a charm.

When ready to bake, score each roll as desired and sprinkle with pretzel salt or topping of your choice.  

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!

Note: you cannot store these in a plastic bag or covered really otherwise the salt will react with the moisture in the air and you will end up with soggy tops.  I place them in a paper bag and leave it open so the air circulates.



pmccool's picture

Most of the commercially produced pretzel rolls I've had seem to have a very tough, leathery crust.  Yours look like they'd be much more enjoyable.


Isand66's picture

Yes these are much better and tastier than anything you will buy commercially.  I’m sure you would like them Paul.

Thanks for your comment.


Yippee's picture

Hi, Ian:

They look so lovely! I'm sure they taste great too! I've always wanted to make bagels and pretzels with lye, but the solution I bought (from an Asian market) does not indicate its concentration, hence the procrastination. Where did you get your lye crystals? 


Isand66's picture

I always order from Amazon.  
Essential Depot store.

angel54's picture

I just can't wait to make these! Thank you for sharing Ian.

Isand66's picture

Let me know how they come out 😀

bakingbadly's picture

Looks good, Ian! Glad to see you're still around and posting. 

Adding butter to the rolls is an excellent decision. What do you normally have them with? We recently launched a line of "Pretzel Bowl Soups" at our bakery. So far we have/had Beer Cheese Soup, German-style Pork Goulash, Broccoli Cheddar Soup, and Southern-style Smothered Fried Chicken.

All the best,



Isand66's picture

So glad to hear from you Zita!  Those bowls look and sound fantastic.  I use my rolls for sandwiches with just about any type of meat or fish and like to eat them for breakfast with some butter or cheese.  German style food is perfect of course.

I hope your bakery and catering business is thriving and you are doing well.

Best regards,


alfanso's picture

Another of the many many that I haven't tried yet.  Your comment on the meet-up with Benny reminded me that I dropped the ball on dropping one here too.  And it looks like your post brought Zita out from the shadows as I haven't seen a comment from him in a long time.  

Not big on soup in pretzel bowls as he posts, but pretzel rolls are another story!  To this day I still love pretzels, my favorite being the Utz salted dark baked sourdough.  Builds strong bodies 12 ways!

Great post Ian.


Isand66's picture

Glad you like them Alan.  It was nice to hear from Zita as well.  It seems like a lifetime ago when he started posting.  It was amazing to see how quickly he progressed to become a professional baker.  If you get a chance to organize a meet up you should go for it.  It was a blast for sure.

Hope you get to try these soon.

Best regards,