September 18, 2013 9:46:16 AM
Unless you've been under a rock, it would be hard to have missed the recent pretzel bun craze on the culinary landscape. The "hottest new food trend" has made headlines in publications from USA Today to Time.com.
In the 1,400 years since an Italian monk rolled leftover dough into ropes and intertwined them, resembling hands crossed in prayer, to motivate distracted catechism students (so one account goes), we humans have loved our pretzels. Through the centuries, bakers have invented a wide variety of ways to get a fix. Which brings us to Wendy's pretzel bacon cheeseburger that hit the marketplace in June after plenty of food industry and social media buzz.
In July, Sonic debuted its pretzel bun hot dogs. In August, Ruby Tuesday began featuring four pretzel bun premium burgers on their menu. Blimpie's added them, Dunkin Donuts, too.
"Pretzel rolls are the bigger, badder and breadier version of classic soft pretzels," says thekitchn.com. Whether for burgers, hot dogs or sandwiches, the crusted exterior, warm fluffy interior and slightly salty flavor characteristic of a pretzel adds textures and new dimensions to a meal.
"Our pretzel burgers have been very well-received by guests," said Todd Mitchell, general manager at Ruby Tuesday in Starkville. "They feel the value is definitely worth it."
Pretzel buns are reportedly big sellers at marketplaces throughout Europe and some grocery chains, particularly Whole Foods, carry them in the U.S. Calls to local grocery stores Tuesday, however, produced no sources. But you can make your own. The Internet is filled with recipes and techniques; experienced bread bakers will be in familiar territory. We include a recipe for hamburger pretzel buns and hot dog pretzel buns in today's food pages.
If you like your pretzel buns crusty, shesimmers.com recommends baking them on a baking stone placed in the middle of the oven with a pan of hot water on another rack right underneath. The combination of hot stone and hot steam in the oven helps create the shiny, crusty exterior. For a less crusty version, bake buns on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Toppings can include poppy seeds, dried onion flakes, grated cheese, celery seeds and caraway seeds. Or sprinkle with pretzel salt, but go easy.
According to the The Daily Burn Tracker at tracker.dailyburn.com, a 3.5 ounce pretzel bun contains about 290 calories, 3 grams fat, 30 mg sodium, 56 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams dietary fiber and 8 grams protein. (By contrast, an average hamburger bun is listed at 200 calories, 2.5 grams fat, 360 mg sodium, 39 grams carbs, 1 gram dietary fiber and 6 grams protein.)
Versatile pretzel buns can also be used as individual bowls, filled with something hearty -- like a cheddar ale soup for Oktoberfest, or stews, chili and dips. Pretzel bread can be used for all types of appetizers, too.
The pretzel bread bandwagon is on a roll. Enjoy the ride.
1 3/4 cups milk, warmed to 110 degrees F. (bathwater warm)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3-3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
Coarse salt for sprinkling
For water bath:
7-8 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
4 tablespoons baking soda
(Source: thedutchbakersdaughter.com, adapted from Une Bonne Viej)
GUY FIERI'S PRETZEL HOT DOG BUNS
Total time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Makes 8 servings
1 cup milk
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 packet active dry yeast
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 small cloves garlic, grated
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup bread flour
1/2 cup baking soda
Pretzel salt or coarse ground sea salt, for sprinkling
(Source: Guy Fieri/foodnetwork.com)
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.