I have been curious about pretzel buns ever since I saw them available on the Wendy’s menu. Now, no offense to Wendy’s, but these homemade pretzel buns are soooo much better! I pinned a recipe goodness knows how long ago and have finally come to the perfect opportunity to make them.Jump to Recipe
My younger brother is graduating from college as well as expecting his first child with his wonderful wife! They are having a graduation/gender reveal party and I am honored to say they took me up on my offer to bake pretzel buns for the exciting event! It was a hard sell for sure. 😉
This project has been so much fun and my taste buds have been jumping for joy. Left-over walnut and rosemary crusted chicken makes amazing sandwiches with pretzel buns! I practiced the buns last weekend and today has been the big bake.
The party is next weekend in the afternoon after an early morning graduation ceremony. This means I needed to find the best plan for keeping the buns tasting fresh, hence the practice round last weekend. I baked one pan to full amber brown, and par baked the other. For those who may be unfamiliar with par baking, it is when you partially bake the bread, store in the freezer, and bake the remainder of the baking time when needed.
This has been a life-saving technique for me this week since I’ve been putting in overtime at work. I can heat a bun or two in the oven while getting ready or while I take my dog for a walk in the evening. I will do my best to include par baking instructions for those breads it has worked well with.
The recipe below makes about four hamburger buns. I’m baking for a crowd of about 25-30 people so I multiplied the recipe by 4, making two batches with this increase, and added 1 pound of starter dough to each batch. The starter dough is by no means required, but I like to add it to most of my breads. It adds a little more depth of flavor and the added health benefits of fermentation. I will also refer to the starter dough as my ferment or levain. It is a bit different than a sour dough starter in technique. I will explain further in a future post.
I start my breads by measuring the flour and crumbling in the yeast until it has nearly disappeared. This helps protect the yeast from the upcoming salt. When combined with other ingredients yeast and salt play well to make delicious breads, but when left alone for too long the salt can kill the yeast. This can cause the failure of bread rising. Another method is placing the yeast on a different side of the mixing bowl than the salt, but I’m rather cautious when it comes to getting a good rise.
The sugar and salt are mixed in with the flour and yeast, followed by the melted butter and water. I prefer to add about 1/2 to 2/3 of the water to start. Factors such as temperature and moisture level can affect how much water is needed. Mix the ingredients until incorporated and the dough is a bit wet in texture, sticking to your fingers. The ferment can be added while mixing the dough or while working gluten into the dough. I have had success with adding it in at either stage.
From here you will work the dough to build the gluten structure. There are a few methods, my favorite being that which I learned from French chef, Richard Bertinet. I’ll post the description in a future post. There is also a video on YouTube. Work the dough until it feels airy and remains smooth. Form it into a ball and allow to rest in a bowl covered for about 1 hour or until doubled in size. I live in a semi-arid climate so I drape a damp kitchen towel over the bowl.
Once risen, turn the dough out onto your work surface, using a bowl scraper to help it release from the bowl if needed. Lightly flour your work surface if the dough is sticking. Divide into equal pieces and roll into balls. I weigh my dough to ensure equal baking. Place on baking sheet to rise for an additional 30 minutes.
While the buns are rising, Boil 2 quarts water and 1/4 cup baking soda. I have an electric stove so it takes about the same amount of time for the water to boil as the bread’s rising time. The steam also helps create a good environment for rising.
Once the buns have risen to about twice their size and the water is boiling, boil each bun for 30 seconds on each side. Start with the top side then flip. I use a spatula with holes as it makes for easy transfer back to the baking sheet. Caution! These little suckers are slippery! I had a couple try to take a plunge back into the water.
Transfer buns back to pan and brush with egg wash, then cut an X into each and sprinkle with coarse salt. Don’t worry if the dough appears deflated at this point. It should gain a beautiful “oven spring” once baked. Bake for 15-20 minutes until a deep golden-brown. Buns are full cooked when tapping the bottom makes a hollow sound.
2 1/4 cup Flour
1 teaspoon Instant Yeast
1 teaspoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
3/4 cup Water
1/4 cup Baking soda
1 Egg – beaten
- Preheat oven to 450º Fahrenheit.
- In a large mixing bowl, crumble yeast into flour then add salt and sugar. Once incorporated, mix in melted butter and water. Once dough has reached a slightly sticky consistency work dough using preferred method. If using a stand mixer, use the dough hook attachment and kneed on medium-high for 1 minute. Shape dough into a ball and place in bowl, covered to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Transfer dough to work surface, lightly floured if dough feels sticky. Separate or weigh equal portions and form into balls by pulling sides into center and pinching in the center. Recipe makes 4 to 5 hamburger size buns or 8 to 10 dinner roll size buns. For additional security, roll the ball on a flat surface with the seam side down. Place rolls onto silicone mat or parchment paper lined baking sheet and allow to rise for an additional 30 minutes.
- While buns are rising, lower oven temperature to 425 degrees and boil 2 quarts water with 1/4 cup baking soda. Boil each bun for 30 seconds on each side and transfer back to baking pan. Brush tops with beaten egg, score an X in the center, sprinkle with coarse salt, then bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Serve warm or at room temperature. Buns may be frozen and thawed after fully baked or par baked until a light golden brown. Par baking took about 13 minutes for hamburger sized buns. Allow to cool fully before freezing. When ready to use par baked buns, place on lined baking sheet and place in cool oven. Set oven to 425 degrees and bake for about 10-15 minutes or until dark golden brown. Bun will take less time to reach fully baked if oven is already preheated.
Source: The Seeded Table