Sunday, August 21, 2016

Pretzel Buns

With the new school year ready to start in just over two weeks, it's time to get serious about baking for lunches. Of course, with two weeks of summer still left why not bake something that can also  help you get the most out of the waning BBQ season? These pretzel buns are perfect for a veggie burger, tofu salad, or my summertime favourite: tomato and cucumber. The dough recipe is more or less Peter Reinhart's but I have altered the method so the end product has that deep brown pretzel colour but it still soft enough to function as a bun.

Makes 12 buns
- 31.5 oz (6 3/4 cups) white bread flour
- 16.5 g (generous 2 1/2 tsp) salt
- 5 g (1 1/2 tsp) instant yeast
- 18 fl. oz (2 1/4 cups) lukewarm water
- 1.5 oz (3 tbsp) oil

Poaching Liquid
- 16 fl. oz (2 cups) water
- 2 oz (8 tsp) baking soda

- aquafaba for brushing
- sesame seeds

1. Combine the flour, salt, yeast, water, and oil in a bowl. Bring together into a rough ball and let sit for 5 minutes. Knead (either by hand or a machine) until dough is smooth but slightly tacky (about 5 mins).  Add water or flour as needed).
2. Shape dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let rise for an hour, or until doubled in size. Punch dough down, knead lightly for a minute, reshape into a ball and let rise in the covered bowl for another hour (or until doubled).
3. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly spray with oil.
4. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and shapes into boules.
5. Roll each boule into a rope about 12 to 14 inches long. Shape into buns per the pictures below.
a) Grab the rope with your left hand about 1/3 of the way up, with your right hand at the opposing end.
b) Use your right hand to make a knot in the dough where your left hand is positioned. Use the fingers of your left hand to keep the knot open. 
c) Tuck the end in your right hand under and through the hole (at 4:00 if the bun was a clock).
d) Tuck the end in your left hand over and through the hole (at 7:00) to the back of the bun. Use the end that was formerly in your right hand to close the hole.

6. Mist the top of the buns with oil, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for about 30 mins, until swelled but not doubled.
7. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
8. Prepare the poaching liquid: in a large pot bring the water to simmer. You want about 1.5 inches of water it the pot, so adjust the amount above as needed. Make sure to increase the baking soda the same amount. When water is simmering mix in the baking soda and stir to dissolve.
9. Poach the buns (working in batches as your pot will allow) for 30-60 seconds each side, placing the top side in first. Remove with a slotted spoon back to the prepared baking sheet.
10. Brush each bun lightly with aquafaba and top with sesame seeds.
11. Bake for 16-18 minutes, rotating the baking sheet at the halfway point.
12. Let fully cool on a wire rack.