Tag: pretzel buns

How to make your own Pretzel Buns

Pretzel Buns

When I made my Bavarian sandwich with pretzel buns and Obatzda camembert spread last week I completely underestimated how many people would actually be interested in a recipe for the buns rather than the spread (which is absolutely delicious nonetheless!). I bought the pretty Laugenbrötchen (their German name) which I used for the recipe from my favourite pretzel bakery in my area which, in my opinion, can compete with the products from their origin in the south of Germany. However, there is an ongoing discussion about the pretzel’s (and the bun’s) quality produced here in Berlin, and if you ask anyone from the Bavarian or Swabian region, they will all agree that it’s impossible to find acceptable results anywhere in this city. I disagree! I lived in the South, I still regularly enjoy some of the best pretzel buns from my step father’s Swabian hometown Stuttgart, an unchallenged stronghold of pretzels, so I consider myself an experienced critic. The buns you saw last week on the photos were soft and spongy inside, they taste slightly buttery, wrapped in a thin brown crust with coarse sea salt sprinkles. That’s all I can ask for!

Motivated by the last sandwich, excited and a bit nervous, I made a brave decision a few days ago, I wanted to make my own pretzel buns! I started some research, learnt about lye, washing and baking soda solutions for the crust, the right yeast dough mixture and the final shaping of the buns and here are my conclusions:

The dough has to be made with a bit of butter for the rich taste, it has to rise twice and once the buns are shaped with the right technique (which I describe in the recipe), they have to cook in boiling water mixed with baking soda for one minute before baking, basically like bagels. The soda solution provides a high ph-value, not as high and strong as lye solution which is often used in professional bakeries, but it’s safer and creates a similar browning effect.

When I pulled a piece off my first warm pretzel bun freshly out of my own oven, I was impressed, the texture was right, the crust perfect and the taste was fantastic. I also made a few pretzels which were nice and juicy and not dry (which I don’t like at all), but here I still have to improve. The look wasn’t right, I know this is not so relevant and, usually, not important for me at all as long as it pleases my taste buds, but we’re talking about pretzels! The top part with the knot wasn’t slim enough. They looked quite puffed up and out of shape, but they tasted amazing with some butter spread on them so I forgot about that completely. I prefer buns anyway!

UPDATE May 30th 2020:

I developed a sourdough pretzel bun version (no yeast), you can see the recipe and process in my Instagram Highlights ‘Pretzel Buns’, click here.

Pretzel Buns

Pretzel Buns

 Pretzel Buns

For 10 pretzel buns you need

plain flour, white spelt (type 630) or wheat, 500g / 1 pound
dry yeast 1 sachet (7g / 1/4 ounce)
salt 2 teaspoons
water, luke warm, 300ml / 10 ounces
butter, melted and cooled, 40g / 1.5 ounces
baking soda 3 tablespoons, for the solution, to boil the buns before baking
coarse sea salt, for the topping

In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast and salt. Mix the water with the melted butter (the mixture should be lukewarm) and add to the dry flour-mixture. Mix with the dough hooks of the mixer for a few minutes, it shouldn’t be too sticky, add more flour if necessary. Continue kneading and punching with your hands for a few minutes until you have an elastic dough ball. Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with a tea towel and let it rise in the warm oven (35°C / 95°F) for 60 minutes (top/ bottom heat and not fan-assisted!).

Punch the dough down, take it out and knead for 1 minute. Divide it in 10 portions, each about 80g / 2 3/4 ounces. Dust your hands with flour, put a portion of dough on the palm of your hand and roll with the other hand, holding it like a dome. Turn the dough for about 1o seconds on the flat hand until its top is round and firm. This process builds up surface tension and prevents the buns from becoming flat. Continue with the remaining dough. If you make pretzels, roll each portion into a 50cm / 20″ long sausage shape, the ends should be thinner than the rest, and twist to a pretzel shape. Cover the buns/ pretzels with a tea towel and let them rise for 20 minutes in a warm place.

Set your oven to 220°C / 425°F top/ bottom heat and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large pot, bring 1l / 4 1/4 cups of water and the baking soda to the boil, watch it as it will start bubbling. The pot should be wide enough for 2 buns to fit in, they don’t need to be completely covered by the water.

Using a slotted ladle, gently slip two buns into the boiling water and cook for 1 minute (not longer !). Mind that they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot and turn them after 30 seconds. Take them out after 1 minute and transfer them to the lined baking sheet. Mind to work quickly, if they sit for too long after cooking them in the baking soda-water mixture the surface won’t be shiny after baking. (You can also bake them in batches of 6 and 4 buns.) Score a cross on the tops of the buns, sprinkle with coarse sea salt, and continue cooking the remaining buns. Bake for 16 minutes or until golden brown, the pretzels need just 12 minutes.

If you want to freeze the baked buns / pretzels, don’t sprinkle them with salt.

Pretzel Buns

Pretzel Buns

Pretzel Buns

Pretzel Buns

Pretzel Buns

pretzelbuns13

Pretzel Buns with Camembert, Caraway Seeds and Red Onions

Pretzel Buns with Camembert, Caraway Seeds and Red Onions

It’s been dark for days and the sky is painted in a dull grey that doesn’t seem to fade away. It welcomes me in the morning as soon as I open the curtains in our bedroom and it changes into pitch black in the afternoon without showing a single patch of blue all day. I don’t even want to look outside the windows anymore, I start daydreaming instead, a skill I improved to perfection over the years. I can stare at my computer for minutes before I realise that my mind is already in Dwejra in Gozo, exploring the deep blue of the Mediterranean sea. Another one of my favourite imaginary winter escapes is to stroll down the narrow streets of Valletta, the stone of the baroque buidings glowing in the golden sun and a soft breeze cooling my skin. If I get hungry I just dream myself into Caffe Cordina, I sit at one of the little tables at the Piazza Regina with an espresso and a pastizz tal-irkotta and I completely forget about reality, the grey sky and January’s sober melancholy. I’m not in Berlin anymore.

This works with any place in the world which made me happy at one point, a few days ago I found myself in the mountains, in Bavaria. I imagined a summery Biergarten scene, wooden benches, hearty food and beer mugs on rustic tables under green trees. After a few seconds, I got hungry, but not an imaginary kind of hunger. I felt like pretzels and Obatzda, the famous Bavarian dip made of whipped camembert, caraway seeds and sweet paprika. Daydreaming wakes up all the senses, it doesn’t matter if you see a real sandwich in front of you or if it’s just in your head, all you want is this sandwich on your plate! So I got on my bike, drove to my favourite pretzel bakery and picked a young camembert at the market on my way home. Last year, in early spring, I made an Obatzda variation with rucola and I used a well aged cheese but this time I was after a light aroma to give the spices more space. Back in my kitchen, I put the camembert in the blender and mixed in the spices. When I spread the thick dip voluptuously on a pretzel bun and garnished it with red onions, garden cress and crushed hot chili peppers I could see the Bavarian Biergarten right in front of me.

You can find my recipe for Pretzel Buns here!

Pretzel Buns with Camembert, Caraway Seeds and Red Onions

 

Pretzel Buns with Camembert, Caraway Seeds and Red Onions

Pretzel Buns with Camembert, Caraway Seeds and Red Onions

For 4 sandwiches you need

pretzel buns or large pretzels,  cut in half, 4
young camembert 100g / 3.5 ounces
cream cheese 80g / 3 ounces
heavy cream 1 tablespoon
caraway seeds, ground in a mortar, 1/8 teaspoon
ground sweet paprika 1 teaspoon
ground cayenne pepper, a pinch
salt and pepper
small red onion, cut in half and into thin slices, 1, for the topping
small dried chili peppers, ground in a mortar, 2-3, for the topping
garden cress, a small handful, for the topping

Purée the camembert, cream cheese, heavy cream and spices in a blender until smooth and season to taste. Spread on the buns and sprinkle with onions, garden cress and chili.

Pretzel Buns with Camembert, Caraway Seeds and Red Onions

 

Pretzel Buns with Camembert, Caraway Seeds and Red Onions

 

Pretzel Buns with Camembert, Caraway Seeds and Red Onions