Monday, November 18, 2013

Faux Sourdough Pretzel Bread Bowls

Where we live, we don't really get Fall. The weather may turn slightly cooler and we may get a little rain, but it's often difficult to get into the Fall mood when it's 80° and sunny outside most days. So, whenever we get the slightest chill in the air, I have to seize the opportunity to make something hot for dinner.

Soup has been on the menu a lot lately, even when the weather doesn't cooperate completely with my yearnings for cooler weather. Since I'm too impatient for a sourdough starter, I decided to make some faux sourdough bread bowls to go with my various soups. And why not turn them into pretzel rolls while I'm at it?

Faux Sourdough Pretzel Bread Bowls
(Print Recipe)

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1 Tbsp brown sugar
6 oz container plain yogurt (I use goat yogurt)
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp white vinegar
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
8 cups water for poaching
1/4 cup baking soda
1 egg, lightly beaten
Coarse salt for sprinkling

First, test your water to make sure it's not too hot. My mom always says it should feel like a warm bath: you want the yeast to be comfortable, but you don't want to scald and kill it. Dissolve brown sugar into the water, then sprinkle the yeast on top. Let it stand for 5 minutes. It should get foamy.

Mix in the yogurt, salt, and vinegar. Using a dough hook, mix in the flour 1/2 cup at a time. (I like to use a combination of white and whole wheat flour, but you can do one or the other if you like. If you use all whole wheat, you may need to do a little less flour, and know that it will turn out much denser if you do.) It is ready once it pulls away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball around the hook.

Coat a large bowl with cooking spray and place the dough in it. Now spray a sheet of cellophane and cover the dough to keep it from forming dry spots. Let it rise in a warm place for 1/2 hour to 45 min, until dough has doubled in size. For this step, I like to preheat the oven to 100° F, then turn it off before I put it in to rise. This keeps it at an ideal temperature to activate the yeast.

When the dough is done rising, pull it out of the oven and preheat it to 425° F. Punch down dough and divide it into 4-6 equal parts, depending on how big you want the bowl. Or, divide more if you just want to make dinner rolls. Form dough into balls as best you can. They will no doubt end up with a seam on the bottom.

Boil 8 cups of water. Remove from heat and slowly add baking soda to the water. Place back on heat. Drop in the rolls one at a time (if you are doing smaller rolls, go ahead and do 3 or 4 at a time). Poach for 30 seconds on each side.

Place poached rolls on a baking sheet and score the tops. Brush with egg and sprinkle with coarse salt. (I actually did not have any coarse salt, so I just used a little table salt. It disappeared, sadly.)

Bake at 425° F for about 20 minutes, until golden brown.

Cut a hole in the top and serve with your favorite soup or chili. Or make them slightly smaller and use them as sandwich rolls.


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