P is for pretzel buns: Get on the pretzel bun bandwagon by making your own


Pretzel buns have been trending in the food industry. Enjoy them in restaurants, and try your hand at making them at home, too.

Pretzel buns have been trending in the food industry. Enjoy them in restaurants, and try your hand at making them at home, too.
Photo by: jacksonville.com


Fill an individual pretzel bun bowl with hearty soups, stews or chili.

Fill an individual pretzel bun bowl with hearty soups, stews or chili.
Photo by: fakeginger.com



Jan Swoope



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.



What's up?


"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."



At home


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



  • Place the warmed milk in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the olive oil and the yeast. Let this mixture stand for about 5 minutes or until it starts to foam (this way you know the yeast is working). Add three cups of the flour and the salt.


  • Attach the dough hook to mixer and knead dough for about 5 minutes, adding additional flour, if needed. The dough should nearly clean the sides of the bowl, but still be a little tacky. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Knead lightly, by hand, for about a minute until the dough is smooth and elastic.


  • When measuring the flour, lightly spoon it into the measuring cup and level it off with a knife. If you have to add flour, add it a tablespoon at a time.


  • Place dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it over so that both sides are oiled. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and let the dough rise in a draft-free area until it's doubled, about 45 minutes.


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.


  • Punch dough down and plop it on a floured surface (prefer Silpat), then divide into 8 pieces. Form each piece into a ball, slightly flattened. Place the dough balls on the lined baking pan, cover and allow to rise for an additional 20 minutes.


  • While the buns are rising, prepare the water bath. In a large pot, combine the water, salt, and baking soda; bring to a rolling boil. Gently drop the dough buns into the boiling water, two at a time, and let them "poach" for about 30 seconds on each side. Remove them with a slotted spoon and place them back on the lined baking pan. Using a serrated knife, cut 2-3 lines across each bun and sprinkle with course salt. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the buns are a deep brown. Transfer to a rack to cool.


    (Source: thedutchbakersdaughter.com, adapted from Une Bonne Viej)





    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



  • In a small saucepan, heat the milk, 1/2 cup water, sugar and honey to 105 to 110 degrees F. Add to the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle the yeast over the water mixture and wait for at least 10 to 15 minutes until the yeast blooms.


  • In a separate saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and garlic and cook until the butter is melted and the garlic is fragrant, 2-3 minutes.


  • Combine the all-purpose flour and bread flour in a mixing bowl.


  • Add the flour mixture to the bowl with the blooming yeast, and then add in the melted butter and garlic mixture. Mix on medium speed until the dough has come together and is smooth and elastic in texture and pulling away from the sides of the bowl, 5-7 minutes.


  • Line 2 baking sheets with silicone mats. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured cutting board and form into a ball. Cut into 4 equal pieces, and then cut those in half to form 8 equal pieces. Using your hands, roll each piece into a ball and place onto a prepared baking sheet. Cover with a dish cloth and let them rest in a warm place for 12-15 minutes.


  • Once rested, lightly dust your work surface again and roll the balls into 7-inch logs. Place onto the other prepared baking sheet, cover, place back in the warm spot and let rest for an additional 30 minutes.


  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place one oven rack high and one low. Line 2 more baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper.


  • In a large pot, bring 8 cups water to a boil, and then add the baking soda. In batches, place the dough in the water and cook for 30 seconds on each side.


  • Using a slotted spatula, remove the logs and place onto the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle the logs with pretzel salt as they come out of the water, to ensure the salt sticks. Then cut 3 diagonal slits on top of the bread, not too deep.


  • Bake for 10-13 minutes, rotating between the top and bottom racks of the oven halfway through the cooking.


    (Source: Guy Fieri/foodnetwork.com)



  • Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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