Pretzel buns are all the rage right now. Folks just love to make their burgers “twisted” but using a pretzel bun instead of a traditional sesame seed bun. I had yet to experience one, so a few weeks ago I set to making my own at home.
I’ve never made pretzels at home either, and I must admit I was worried about the whole boiling the dough in water process. But, it was actually really easy and my concerns were totally unfounded. After the initial quick-cook in the water bath, the buns are then finished off and baked in the oven to achieve a deep golden-brown color.
They have great pretzel flavor – chewy on on the outside, yet tender on the inside. We used half of them for our burgers that night, then I tucked the other half in the freezer to have on hand the next time we are throwing some burgers on the grill. It’s comforting to have something like this on hand in the freezer to make a quick-dinner extra special!
Homemade Pretzel Buns
1 3/4 cups warm water
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 tsp salt
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
2 tsp instant yeast
1 egg, beaten (for brushing)
coarse sea salt, for topping
For the water bath:
2 quarts water
1 Tbsp salt
1/4 cup baking soda
Combine all ingredients for the dough (aside from the egg) in the bowl of a standing mixer. Using the paddle attachment, turn on the mixer and combine to form a shaggy dough. Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed until a smooth, cohesive dough is formed.
Allow the dough to rise in a lightly greased bowl, covered, for about 1 hour, until doubled. Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface.
Divide the dough into 8 pieces and shape each piece into a smooth ball. Place the balls on a lightly greased baking sheet, cover, and let rest for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Prepare the water bath: Bring the water, salt, and baking soda to a boil in a large pot.
Drop 5 dough balls at a time into the water bath. Cook for 30 seconds, flip over, and cook for 30 seconds longer. Using a slotted spoon, return the buns to the baking sheet. Using scissors or a sharp knife, cut 1/2″-deep crosses into the center of each bun. Brush the top of the buns with the beaten egg, then sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
Bake the buns for 20 to 24 minutes, or until they’re a deep-dark brown. Remove them from the oven, and transfer to a rack to cool.
Yield: 8 buns
Source: adapted from King Arthur Flour