It was only some time after I’d moved to Vancouver that I ate my first soft pretzel. I loved them instantly. Shiny with butter, sprinkled with salt and ripped into chunks and dipped in mustard. Certainly not tidy and wildly hard to manage while walking but definitely worth the work.
As awesome as soft pretzels are, pretzel buns are even more so because of their versatility. Sandwiches, burgers, toast, the list goes on, all tasting deliciously of pretzels. I kept seeing a President’s Choice ad on tv where they hosted a big neighbourhood bbq and had these great delicious looking pretzel buns and I figured that since I’ve made soft pretzels myself a few times, doing the same only shaped as buns would be even easier.
Only now am I wondering why I didn’t use my own soft pretzel recipe instead of the one I found on food.com which I had to modify anyway. My brain is a mystery to even me sometimes…..what can you do? My original recipe was fabulous and everyone loved the pretzels. Loved them like crazy. So I think I’ll include it in this post as well, since it was damn fine, and next time I make pretzel buns I’m going to try it with my recipe.
Pretzel Buns (adapted from Food.com)
1 1/3 cups warm water
2 tbsp warm milk
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
2 tbsp butter, melted
4 cups, unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher or coarse salt
10 cups water
1/2 cup baking soda
1 large egg
1 tsp water
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached add the yeast and 1/3 cup warm (not hot!) water. Let stand until the yeast becomes foamy.
Add the rest of the water, milk, sugar and butter and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the flour and mix on medium low speed until the dough comes together, pulls away from the sides and is nice and pliable. About 3 minutes. If you’re doing this in a regular bowl just mix, mix, mix until it all comes together. It’s best to just use your hands.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 3-4 minutes.
The original recipe called for me to roll the dough into a two foot long log and cut it into 12 pieces, which I did, although I got 16 good size rolls, and let it rest for 10 minutes before forming the pieces into rolls or knots, scoring the top in the shape of an x with a serrated knife and letting them rest on a lightly floured surface for a further 30 minutes.
This seemed to work fine, but I think you’d get a better result and a slightly lighter bun if you followed the more traditional proofing method: once the dough is kneaded, place it in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 30 minutes or until doubled in size. Punch down the dough, roll it into a log and cut your 16 pieces. Shape each piece into a roll and place them on a lightly floured surface, cut an x into the top of each one and cover them with plastic wrap. Let them rest for about 20 minutes.
While the rolls are resting, preheat your oven to 425F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly oil (I used cooking spray). In a small dish, lightly beat the egg with the water and set aside.
Using a large pot, bring the water to a rolling boil. Add the baking soda but be careful, it will foam up briefly. Gently add the rolls the water, two at a time, for about 30 seconds, flipping halfway through. Using a slotted spoon remove them from the water and place them cut side up on the baking sheet. Repeat with all the dough.
Brush the top of each roll with the egg wash and sprinkle with the kosher salt. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until nicely browned. Make sure to turn the rolls once or twice during cooking to ensure even colouring. Cool the rolls on a wire rack or serve warm.
Per Serving (1 roll): 121 calories, 2g fat, 23g carbs, 3g protein, 133mg sodium, 1g fibre.
Abby’s Super Awesome Soft Pretzel Recipe (not pictured)
This is the recipe as I’d written it several years ago. Nothing has been modified, so it’s a little rough around the edges.
1 cup warm water
1 pkg active dry yeast
2 3/4 cups unbleached flour
2 tbps unsalted butter at room temp
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
8 cups water
10 tsp baking soda
Add the warm water to the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached, sprinkle yeast over the water and let stand for 5 minutes or until foamy.
Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour with the sugar and salt. Add the flour mixture and the butter to the yeast mixture. Mix the dough on medium low speed for about 3-5 minutes. Sift 1 cup of flour and add it to the dough and mix it in. If the dough is still sticky add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until no longer sticky. Place the dough in a lightly oiled large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Punch down the dough and divide into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into “snake” approx 22 inches long and form it into a pretzel shape (I give no instructions on how to do this….figures). Transfer the pretzels to the baking sheet leaving 1 1/2 inches between each one. Let rise for a further 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 475F. In a large pot bring water and baking soda to a boil.
Add 2 pretzels right side up with a slotted spoon. Flip. Pretzels are only in the water for about 20 seconds. Repeat with all the pretzels. Transfer the pretzels back to the baking sheet, right side up, sprinkle with coarse salt and bake until crispy and golden brown about 10-12 minutes.
Per Serving (1 pretzel): 171 calories, 3g fat, 32g carbs, 5g protein, 203mg sodium, 2g fibre.