Yeah, I can bake bread, but I generally don’t…I have an equation: flour + water = mess! Sometimes, though, a little mess is worth it, and in the case of Pretzel Buns, it REALLY is!
This recipe makes 16 hamburger sized buns (or more smaller rolls – great for serving with my Beer Cheese Soup) which means you’ll have some to bake and some to freeze and bake off another time. Twice the rolls, half the time.
Bonus here: I can pull out the amount of frozen buns I need and don’t have to buy a package of six or eight buns at the store and then figure out what to do with the ones left!
“If these are so easy, why is the recipe so long?” you may ask…I’ve tried to explain each step so you can avoid potential pitfalls. As I cook, I notice when I have a question in the recipe to figure out – and I don’t want you, gentle reader, to go through the same angst.
These rolls are gorgeous when they come out of the oven and very pretzel like in that they have a crispy outer crust. Once they’ve been bagged in plastic, that crust will soften up a bit. Depending on what you’re using them for, you can choose the texture.
- 2 cups warm milk (100 to 110 degrees)
- 1 1/2 cups warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast*
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 7 to 8 cups unbleached flour, perhaps more
- 3 quarts boiling water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- Kosher salt
*Yeast: this recipe calls for instant yeast which does not have to be “proofed.” Directions for “Active Dry Yeast” are at the bottom of the page.
Measure eight cups flour into a bowl and set aside – you may not use all of this; when making bread the amount of flour depends on a number of things, especially how much moisture is in the flour and measuring habits. I let the dough “tell” me how much I need to add, below.
Mix milk, water, yeast oil and salt together in a heavy bowl or pan. Enameled cast iron works well. Add about three cups of flour, mixing with a heavy spoon. Continue to add flour until the mixture begins to pull away from the side of the bowl. It will still be very wet at this point, and you’ll probably have used about 3 – 4 more cups of the flour.
Place about 1/2 cup of flour on counter or table and scrape dough onto it. With floured hands, begin kneading, adding flour as necessary, but as little as possible. Continue to knead for about 8 minutes.
The dough at first will be shaggy and sticky, but as you work it and add flour, it becomes more manageable and smoother. This dough shouldn’t be “stiff” and hard to work at the end, it should be soft and it will still feel tacky, but shouldn’t stick to your floured hands when you press gently.
Place in an oiled bowl, top side down, turn it in the bowl to top side up, which will lightly coat the dough. Cover with a clean kitchen towel, place in a warm, draft free area, 70 to 75 degrees is ideal and let rise till doubled. (About an hour at 70 degrees.) If your home is cooler, you can preheat your oven to 200 degrees, turn it off, put on the light and place your dough inside.
Without punching down or overly deflating the dough, turn it out onto a floured surface. Divide in half, and then in half again, pressing straight down, not sawing, so you have four quarters. Place three of the dough lumps on a floured surface and cover with a clean kitchen towel.
Take the 4th lump of dough and divide into four equally sized lumps; feel free to weigh if desired. Pick up a lump and pull the cut edges into the center, pinching together tightly.
Place seam side down on a lightly floured surface, cup with hands and lightly push and roll the ball around until it is round in shape.
Lay on a floured surface or tray, cover with a towel, and proceed with the remainder of the dough.
Freeze to bake later:
- Stop here.
- Place the rolls on parchment lined tray and freeze, uncovered.
- Once they are frozen solid, bag and tag.
- To bake, thaw overnight on a parchment lined tray, lightly covered with plastic, and proceed with the recipe.
To prepare for baking:
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Line several sheet trays with parchment.
Let rolls rest for about 15 minutes. During this time, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a very large pan. Measure the water as it will affect density of solution. Take the water off heat and drop in the baking soda and sugar. It will foam wildly! Return to a good simmer, watching to make sure it doesn’t boil over; that makes a huge mess.
Repeat pinching process by holding each ball of dough in one hand and pulling in from the sides – you’ll end up with a “belly button.” Pick up dough ball by the button and gently drop into simmering water.
Dough will float to top, cook for one minute then turn and cook an additional 30 seconds. Remove with slotted spoon, draining well, to parchment lined sheet pan, belly button down. Be careful; they’re slippery. A little moisture is ok.
The rolls will look strange and lumpy; they’ll blossom in the baking process. Slash each ball about 1/4 inch deep with a sharp knife or clean razor blade. The dough will pull a bit, so a sharp knife is key here. A dull one will drag on the dough and may cause your roll to deflate.
Use a criss-cross pattern or a series of three parallel slashes. If they’re very misshapen during the slashing, nudge back in place, but most imperfections will even out during baking.
Sprinkle each with a pinch of salt.
Bake for 20 to 22 minutes until golden brown, turning and rotating the trays. If you’ve made smaller rolls, check them at about 15 minutes.
* If you use Active Dry Yeast you will need to proof it like this: Mix the warm milk, water, yeast and oil together, but add a teaspoon of sugar to the mixture. Mix the salt into the flour rather than into the yeast mixture. Let the yeast mixture sit for about 10 minutes until bubbly and then proceed with the recipe.
Directions for Electric Mixer:
If using a mixer, add about three cups of flour to the bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix milk, water, yeast oil and salt together. Using a paddle, and mixing on low, add the liquid ingredients. Mix until most of the lumps are gone.
Change to a dough hook and continue to add flour, cup by cup, mixing on low until a dough forms and most of the flour has been added. Turn up to medium and knead for about 4 minutes.
Turn out onto a well floured surface and will floured hands, knead several times until desired consistency is reached. (See above.)
from the kitchen of www.frugalhausfrau.com
I want to note that although I’ve made this recipe several times, on the day I took these photos, I forgot to measure my water – that changed the solution density and my rolls were just a little lighter than usual.
Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:
- Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
- Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
- Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
- Read below for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.
The cost to make 16 rolls was about $1.12 or 56 cents for eight. Cost at the store? Who knows – I hear Costco has great prices on these…anyone care to comment?
- Flour: Look for flour to be on sale around any holiday. To avoid any pest problems, freeze flour (or flour containing products) for three days. I bought 5 pounds for $2.19 on sale with a coupon, this recipe used about 2 pounds. Cost 87 cents.
- Rest of Ingredients: Baking soda, yeast, oil amount to about 25 cents or so. See Pantry Items for more information on buying and storing.