The last pretzel bun post I did was in August 2013, and since then I’ve been adjusting ingredients, rise time[s], length of water bath and bake time. And by golly, I’ve finally done it… I’ve perfected the pretzel bun!
Don’t get me wrong, they were really good back then. But they did require a little tweaking, if only so I could sleep soundly at night 😉 This is a different recipe than the one I used months ago, plus I learned that through patience [not rushing the rise time] yields a much nicer texture and plumpness.
I also found using the almighty instant read thermometer to ensure proper water temperature really does make a difference in the “blooming” of the yeast. I was always a little lax in that regard, until now. I will always, on my honor, check the temperature from here on out!
This time around, the buns were made for hamburgers. Enough snow has finally melted and we once again have access to our BBQ. Yeah! I have found making them hours ahead of time works great. At meal time, we slice them in half and “toast” them on the bagel setting of our toaster to heat and crisp them a bit. I admit, I did “sneak” one for lunch for my leftover St. Patrick’s Day corned beef. A fabulous sandwich indeed!
Recipe makes 12 buns
2¼ teaspoons instant active yeast
1 cup water
2 Tablespoons milk [I used 1%]
3 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar
2½-3 cups bread flour
4 quarts water
½ cup baking soda
Kosher salt to taste
2 Tablespoons melted butter
•In a measuring cup, heat the water, milk and the 2 Tablespoons of butter to between 110° and 120°F. Use an instant read thermometer to get it right!
•Pour the heated mixture into a large mixing bowl, sprinkle in the yeast and stir gently, just until combined. Allow the mixture to rest for approximately 10 minutes to allow the yeast to bloom. It will appear foamy.
•Add the brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and 2½ cups of the flour. Mix on low speed, allowing the dry ingredients to blend with the wet. The dough should form a slightly sticky, yet firm ball. If it appears to “wet” add additional flour, about 1 Tablespoon at a time, to reach optimum consistency. It will take 5-7 minutes of machine kneading to reach the sticky but firm ball of dough.
•Lift the ball of dough from the mixing bowl, spray the bowl with cooking spray and return the dough to the bowl. Cover the bowl with a towel; allow to rise in a draft free area for 30 minutes.
•After 30 minutes, knead the dough again for about 7 minutes, until the dough is elastic and has a satiny [shiny] appearance. Once again, remove the dough and spray the bowl with cooking spray. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a towel and allow to rise [draft free area] for 1 hour.
•Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray; set aside. Lightly flour your work surface. Remove the dough from the bowl, placing it on the floured surface and deflate the dough by gently pressing it down with your hands. You should now have a flat [less than an inch thick] circle of dough.
•Divide the dough into 1/12ths. I cut the circle in half, then in half again [4 portions], and finally divide each 4th into 3 pieces. They will appear pie-shaped. One at a time, form each wedge of dough into a disc shaped ball. They will measure about 2¼-inches each. Don’t worry too much about exact size, they will rise more in following steps, giving you a traditional size bun [about 3½” diameter and 1″ thick]. As you are forming the buns, keep both the just formed dough and the yet to be formed dough covered with towels so the dough does not dry out.
•When you have your 12 buns formed, cut an “X” shape in the center of each. Use a very sharp knife, so it doesn’t “drag” the dough and cut to a depth of about ¼-inch. The “X” will allow for expansion of the dough. Cover the buns once more with a towel, and allow to rise for about 15 minutes. The buns will “grow” in size at this point, by about ½-inch in diameter.
•Preheat oven to 400°F. Bring a pot of water, 4 quarts, to a boil. Spray a baking sheet[s] with cooking spray [no parchment] and set aside for baking. I found 6 buns to a baking sheet worked better than crowding all 12 on one.
•When the oven is heated and the water is boiling, slowly add the baking soda to the water. It will foam up for a second or two, so be careful of overflow. Place buns, 2 at a time into the boiling water. Boil for 30 seconds, and with a slotted spoon, turn the buns over and boil for 30 seconds more. The buns will once again “grow” in size by another ½” or so. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon, draining as much water as possible, and place on prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the top of each bun with a salt to taste. Continue until all buns have been boiled.
•Bake for 12-14 minutes, until buns are beginning to brown. Melt 3 Tablespoons of butter in a small bowl or measuring cup. Remove buns from the oven and brush the top of each roll with the melted butter. Return baking sheet[s] to the oven, rotating position of pans as needed. Continue baking for 5-7 minutes or until buns are a golden brown. Cool on racks.
Now, these are absolutely delicious fresh out of the oven. If you are making them ahead of time as did this day, allow them to cool to room temperature and then store in an airtight container. Enjoy!