Awhile back, my friend Clare (the same who does some of the graphics on this site!) introduced me to some pretzel buns she had been making. I had eaten similar pretzels while at a bar in Heidelberg, Germany and could never forget them. The soft, warm, and just a bit salty pretzel went perfect with beer and left me quite disappointed when I couldn’t get them at bars in Hamilton. When I had the pretzel buns Clare had baked, I was brought back to that little pub in Germany. Here is Clare’s recipe.
As a side note, this recipe is mostly just for the pretzel dough. We’ve made small buns with them, but you can also make a single loaf or even proper pretzels!
The ingredients for this recipe are nice and simple. If you don’t bake regularly, the only thing you might have to pick up is yeast. This recipe makes about 8 medium sized buns or 12 small buns. These are delicious enough that 1 batch is never enough, so we always make a double batch.
- 1 Cup Milk
- 2 Tbl butter or margarine
- 2 Tbl brown sugar
- 1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp, 1/4 oz, or 7 g) dry rapid rise yeast
- 2 tsp salt
- ~3 Cups all-purpose flour
- ~1 tbs olive oil for greasing bowl
- Coarse or kosher salt
- 3 Quarts water
- 3/4 Cup baking soda
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp water
Start by heating the milk and butter in a small pot until it’s warm (100-110 F, a little warmer than a hot tub). The butter might not be entirely melt, but that’s ok. In a large mixing bowl (I use a 7.5 quart bowl for a double recipe), combine the yeast and brown sugar and add in the warm milk/butter mixture. Add in the salt and 1 cup of flour and mix for about 3 minutes. Once the dough is well mixed, start adding flour until you end up with something that’s kneadable (probably about another cup or so).
Cover your counter top with a generous sprinkling of flour and start kneading the dough, allowing it to take in some of the flour. Re-sprinkle flour as needed (kneaded?!). You should be kneading for about 8-10 minutes until you end up with a smooth and elastic piece of dough (see the picture below).
At this point, grease a clean mixing bowl with the oil and put the dough in, rotating it around until it’s all coated in oil. Cover with a cloth, and let it rise for around an hour – it will be ready when it’s roughly doubled in size (make sure your mixing bowl is big enough!).
Preheat your oven to 400 F (205 C). In a wide pot, combine the boiling solution heat it until boiling. While it’s heating up, start dividing up your dough into 8-12 pieces. We find it easiest to just continually cut it into halves or thirds until you have as many pieces as you’d like. Now is when you get to decide what your buns will look like. We tend to do one of two different styles. Either a knot or a bun. With the knot, roll the little piece of dough in your hand into a long cylinder, and then simply tie a regular knot with it. With the bun, we flatten the dough a little bit and then fold all the edges into the underside, making an almost jelly-fish looking bun. We then twist all the folded edges together, closing it up. Hopefully the pictures below make that a little bit clearer!
Once you’ve prepared all your buns and your solution is boiling, add the buns to the boiling solution for one minute per side (they float, so flip them over after a minute to make sure both sides get coated). Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the solution and place them on a plate. You may have to do this in batches depending on the diameter of your pot.
You’re almost there! Mix up the egg wash and use a brush to brush some it along the top and sides of all of your buns (heh). Add just a small pinch of the coarse salt to the top of each bun. They don’t need much as it’s already a bit of a salty bread. Place the buns on a greased baking sheet or on parchment paper on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven. Leave them for about 10 minutes, and after that, turn the oven down to 350 F (175 C) and let them bake for another 7 minutes. Times might vary a bit depending on your oven, but they should be a nice brown color when they’re ready. After this, just let them cool down a bit, and then try eating only one – we bet you can’t.
Additional notes: If you prefer, you can make larger loafs with this dough! A single batch makes 2 loaves (just cut the dough in half after it’s risen and proceed as normal). The baking time should be adjusted to 15 minutes at 400 F and then 10-12 minutes at 350 F. You could also do whatever other creative form (such as this gorgeous fold from smittenkitchen.com) that you could make with the dough, but I’m not 100% on baking times. I would suggest something closer to the loaf baking times for anything large and thick, and something closer to the bun baking times for anything small or thin (such as an actual pretzel).