Baking books can be dangerous for me. Dangerous in that I’m tempted to bake my way through them, marking more pages than I leave unmarked and wanting to start multiple recipes at the same time. Little Flower Baking was definitely in this category. It’s the latest from Christine Moore of LA’s Little Flower Cafe, and I received a review copy. The style of baking here is familiar and comforting with a few surprising flavors and twists. The scones include versions like Peach Ricotta, Plum Ginger, Strawberry Basil, and Curry Pineapple. I was dizzy from the pies, fruit-filled tarts, layer cakes and simpler cakes, muffins, vegan and gluten-free options, and then came the cookies chapter. I absolutely have to try the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies made with two different types of dough that get smooshed together to form each cookie. And, the Chai Sugar Cookies and White Chocolate Chai Cookies have my complete attention as well. I actually went straight to the kitchen when I saw the Pink Peppercorn Hibiscus Shortbread and made these lovely wedges cut from a round that was topped with a mix of sanding sugar and ground dried hibiscus flowers. They were so pretty with the sparkling, red-pink sugar on top. I haven’t even started telling you about the Savories chapter yet. The Savory Muffins each have a whole egg baked into them and cheddar melted on top, and the Potato Tart looks delicious with the slices circling the top and baked until golden. But my weakness for all things pretzel could not be overcome when I saw the Buttermilk Pretzel Rolls.
This was the puffiest, funnest dough to work with, quite possibly, that I’ve ever encountered. At first, I worried that the amount of yeast in the recipe was a typo because two tablespoons for this quantity of dough seemed like a lot, but the result was just as it should be. The dough was made with the yeast, buttermilk, vegetable oil, water, bread flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and salt. There’s not enough sugar for the dough to be truly sweet, but there is a hint of sweetness and the sugar adds to the browning of the rolls. The dough was mixed in a stand mixer for almost 20 minutes until smooth. It is a sticky dough that requires a bowl scraper to transfer it to an oiled bowl to rise. It was left to rest for about an hour. Now, in addition to the pretzel roll recipe in the book, there’s also a pretzel dog recipe. It’s kind of like a pig in blanket with pretzel dough criss-crossed around a hot dog. I had to try a few of those too. I divided the dough to make several plain rolls, and then I used some remaining dough to blanket little chicken breakfast sausages for mini chicks in blankets. There’s one of those in the photo below. For the rolls, the dough was portioned, rolled into six-inch long pieces, and then knotted into a round shape. Both the rolls and chicks in blankets were then poached in boiling water mixed with baking soda and brown sugar. After a few seconds of poaching, the rolls were placed on baking sheets, brushed with vegetable oil, and sprinkled with extra coarse salt. They were baked for about 24 minutes total.
The rolls emerged from the oven a deep, golden, pretzel-brown, and the texture was delightfully tender. And, the chicks in blankets? They couldn’t have been more fun to dip into grainy mustard before biting into the salt-topped blankets. I may need to step away from the kitchen before every surface is covered with scones and cookies, but I’ll be back to bake more from this book soon.
Buttermilk Pretzel Rolls
Recipe reprinted with publisher's permission from Little Flower Baking.
The aroma of soft pretzels and roasting chestnuts from a street cart in New York City meant a great day at Central Park or a museum visit. Memories from childhood are so powerful and comforting. Making these pretzel rolls every day in the cafe keeps those memories alive.
2 tablespoons (18g) active dry yeast
1 1⁄2 cups (333g) warm water, 95 to 110 degrees F
1⁄2 cup + 2 tablespoons (140g) buttermilk
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
5 cups (600g) bread flour, plus more for dusting
1⁄3 cup (71g) golden brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon sea salt
1⁄2 cup (100g) grapeseed oil, plus more to coat bowl
3 tablespoons pretzel salt or coarse sea salt
6 tablespoons (108g) baking soda
1 cup (213g) golden brown sugar, packed
3 cups (666g) water
Place yeast and warm water in a small bowl and whisk until yeast dissolves. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add buttermilk and oil. Set wet mixture aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine flour, sugars, and salt on lowest speed for 15 seconds. Add wet mixture all at once and mix on lowest speed until dough is smooth and tacky, 15 to 20 minutes.
Lightly coat a medium bowl with grapeseed oil. Transfer dough to the oiled bowl. Flip the dough so it is coated with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper and brush paper with oil. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface.
Divide dough into 16 even portions, each about the size of a tennis ball. Roll each portion into a 6- to 7-inch rope. Tie each rope into a simple knot. Set pretzel rolls onto the sheet pans.
Preheat oven to 375°. To make poaching liquid, combine baking soda, brown sugar, and water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil.
Set up a small bowl with 1⁄2 cup grapeseed oil, a pastry brush, and a small bowl of pretzel salt.
Once poaching liquid foams, begin poaching. Use a slotted or perforated spoon to submerge 3 pretzel rolls for 8 seconds. Remove from saucepan and place onto sheet pan, leaving at least 1 1⁄2 inches of space between each roll. Brush each roll with oil and sprinkle with a pinch of pretzel salt. Continue to poach the remaining pretzel rolls in same manner.
Bake poached pretzel rolls until golden, about 12 minutes. Rotate pan and continue baking until darker golden brown, about 12 more minutes.
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