Friday, November 01, 2013

Pretzel Buns - a Gorgeous Chew Treat

Homemade Chewy Pretzel Buns
I have wanted to do this for ages but have long been scared off the whole process of making them turn that signature mahogany colour.  I've been having crazy pregger cravings and this was one of them. Well actually, it was for Giant Soft Pretzels but I deffo thought I'd start with simple round balls before venturing over to the labour of rolling out Pretzels.  Plus, lil T was having a friend over for supper and I thought they'd make great toddler slider buns.

In the end, the extra stage from just chewy bread to glowing pretzels was not that big a hassle and I'd do it again and again.

Pretzel Buns or Soft Pretzels

1 1/3 c Warm Water
1 T Sugar
2 1/2 t Dry Active Yeast

2 1/2 c All Purpose Unbleached Flour
1 c Whole Wheat Flour
1 c Dark Rye (or Light Rye) Flour
1 T Dry Mustard Powder
2 1/2 t Salt

60g or 2oz Butter, melted

Topping options:
Course Salt
Sesame Seeds
Poppy Seeds
Sunflower Seeds

1 l Water
1/3 c Baking Soda

In a stand mixer, dissolve the Warm Water and Sugar.  Sprinkle the Yeast over the Water and let stand for 10-15  minutes.

Whisk all the Flours and Mustard together.  Add the Salt and Butter to the foamy Yeast mixture.  And then half the Flours.  Mix on lowest speed to combine without causing a floury hurricane.  When it's all moistened, slowly add the rest of the Flours.  Mix on the two lower speeds, alternating, for about 15 minutes.  I like my Bread nice and chewy.  Occasionally, turn off the mixer, remove the Dough from the hook into the bowl and continue kneading. 

In a large bowl, or the mixer bowl, lightly grease.  Add roll the dough in to a nice ball and turn around in the bowl to lightly coat the ball.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for at least 2-3 hours. 

After the rising, gently press down the ball and knead a few times in the bowl.  Get out a handy scale or do this by look and feel.  Tear off 75 g sized balls and knead into nice smooth balls by smooshing, folding in half smooshing and folding intil it's nice and round and smooth on one side.  Pinch down the underside well.  75g will give you about 3/4 of a tennis ball sized piece of unleaven dough.  It should yield you 11-12 Buns.

Lay out on a lined baking sheet.  I use a silcon mat.  And cover with the plastic you used for the bowl.  It needn't be a firm cover because you want the skin to dry out a bit.

Let rise for an hour. 

Pre heat your oven to 425F with a rack in the lower third.  Bring a medium sauce pan that is nearly full with about an inch clearance of water to a simmer.  i.e. not boiling but not still.  Over Medium Low heat.  Add the baking soda BEFORE you heat or you'll have a foamy mess.  Bring your baking sheet next to the stove.  With a slotted spoon or skimmer handy, lower 3-4 balls into the pot.  Move them around and flip over.  Let simmer in the bath for 3 minutes.  Lift out with your spoon, draining as well as you can, and place them back on your baking sheet.  Place 3-4 more into the water and while they soak, top your bathed balls with Sesame Seeds and Salt... or whatever you like, while they are still sticky.  They'll have puffed up a bit as well.  Continue until you've bathed all your buns.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. 

Let them cool for a few minutes because there is quite a lot of steam inside those nicely sealed buns.  The alkaline bath of Baking Soda should have ensure you get that nice dark colour without a need for an Egg wash, whose flavour  don't care for on all my pastry.  There was a nice gentle mustard taste.  It wasn't too much that lil T noticed but present.  I wouldn't up the Mustard though.  For some reason, it inhibits rising.  I don't know why.  I've made bread with Mustard in the past and pushed the amount and it didn't rise at all.