Thursday, March 12, 2015

Making Bread: Pretzel Buns

Break out the dough hook! Or just a really good kneading board. So many of you demanded this pretzel bun recipe, so I'm posting it here so you can all get access to it. I'll have the measurements in both grams and cups to accommodate bakers all over the world. And if you're new to making bread, checkout youtube for some videos regarding the step in question. Making bread is easy, once you get the hang of it. :)


Pretzel Buns:

1.5 cups warm water (353g) (water should be slightly warmer than body temperature)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1 package active dry yeast (2.25 teaspoons, 8g)
3 ounces unsalted butter, melted (6 tablespoons, 85g)
2.25 teaspoons salt (8g)
4.5-5 cups all purpose flour (or, 20/80 whole wheat/AP) (562g-625g)
oil for coating

Boiling liquid:

3 quarts of water (just be sure to use a large dutch oven which is about half full)
3/4 cup baking soda (231g)

Brushing liquid:

1 whole egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
coarse sea salt, optional

Pans:

2 baking pans, lined with parchment paper

Combine sugar, water, and yeast in a large bowl. Proof the yeast by allowing it to dissolve. After 10 minutes or so, it should be bubbly and smell yeasty. Add in melted butter and stir. Make sure that the butter isn't hotter than your warm water. Let rest for 5 minutes. Add in flour and salt. Mix until combined. If you're using a version with whole wheat, let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes. This allows the whole wheat extra time to absorb the water.

Begin kneading until smooth and elastic. Use extra flour where necessary. The dough will be soft to medium firm when finished. Versions with whole wheat will be slightly firmer. Place in an oiled bowl and cover. Place in a warm, draft-free place. I place mine in the oven with the light on. Allow 1 hour for it to double in size.

Preheat the oven to 425F (about 220C). In a large pot or dutch oven, combine the water and baking soda. Stir. Bring to a boil, stirring often. The baking soda will bubble and pop, so be sure to cover the burners not being used for quick clean up (Okay, this is a messy step). Roll the dough into the desired shape, pretzel twist or bun, then boil the dough in water for ONLY 30 seconds. Remove to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Do this in small batches.

When you're done boiling the buns, brush them with the egg/water mixture. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown. The buns will start to look burnt, but they're not. The baking soda gives them their deep brown color and it gives pretzels their noticeable crust. Rest and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Variations:

Pizza Pretzel Buns:

When making the buns, add a small cube of cheese and a slice of ham or pepperoni to the center of the dough and wrap the dough around the contents thoroughly. Pinch it closed.

Freezing:

The buns can be frozen and quickly reheated in an oven. Cover the buns in foil (2-4 in a foil package, depending on your eating habits), then place in a ziploc bag. Label the bag with the date of baking. They will stay fresh for 2-3 months.

To reheat, unwrap the buns and place on a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 425F (220C) and bake for about 5-8 minutes, until heated through. They taste fresh baked!