I am not a baker.
Wait, let me re-phrase that. Technically, I can bake. In the same fashion that a hockey player could do your taxes. It can be done, but is it a good idea? I think not.
My numerous attempts at bread making have been an unmitigated disaster, and my cakes and cookies turn out more like bricks and pucks. And I’ve always wanted to be able to bake bread like this.
But with the addition of this little beauty to my kitchen…
…I’m hoping to turn around my misfortunes.
My first foray back into baking needed to be delicious enough to inspire me to continue, yet easy enough that a dumb dumb like me could have success.
What I came up with was these amazing pretzel buns.
Never heard of a pretzel bun? Don’t worry, neither had I until I saw them on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. And ever since then i’ve wanted to give them a try. I’ve made them 3 times so far, and i’ve been really impressed with the results.
So here’s the recipe and your step by step guide to not screwing it up.
- 1 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
- 1 (1/4-ounce) envelope active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
- Vegetable oil
- 2 3/4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
- 6 cups water
- 1/4 cup baking soda
To start, sprinkle the yeast into the warm water in your mixing bowl. Leave for approximately 5 minutes until it starts to foam.
- Whisk the flour, sugar, and salt together.
- Attach the dough hook, and start on low speed.
- Add the flour mixture and mix on low/med for about 5 minutes or until the dough is elastic and smooth.
- Form the dough into a ball, place in an oiled bowl, and cover with a moist towel to rise 30-35 minutes in a warm place.
- Punch down the dough, and knead it for another minute. cut into 8 equal sized balls and cut an X in the top.
- Place dough balls on a baking sheet and cover again with the damp towel.
- After about 15 or 20 minutes the dough will have risen suitably and it’s time for the fun part.
- Boil the 6 cups of water and add the baking soda. It will bubble furiously but don’t worry, that’s normal.
- Drop the dough into the boiling mixture 2 at a time and boil for about 30 seconds per side. (some recipes call for 2 minutes per side, but I found this made the dough a bit soggy)
- Drain on a wire rack and sprinkle with salt.
- Place the boiled dough balls back on your baking sheet.
- Put the tray of buns in your preheated 425 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. In the meantime, you can do this….
They have a unique dark colour to them, and a distinct pretzel flavour that I absolutely love. I could hardly wait for them to cool enough to crack one open and butter/ devour it.
I did find a couple things of note during the making of my 3 batches. First, when kneeding the balls try not to create large folds in the dough that can trap water during the boiling process. This will lead to very soggy spots in the finished product.
Secondly, the pretzel flavour seemed to dissipate the longer they sat unconsumed on the counter. The sooner you eat them the better. Or freeze whatever you’re not using quickly.
Thirdly, they are fantastic toasted with butter, but as Robyn found out they are not good warmed in the microwave. They got spongey, and soggy. Be warned.
So go ahead and try these out, and let me know what you think. In the meantime, if anyone needs me i’ll be making myself a sandwich.