Friday, May 18, 2012

Bavarian Hamburger Buns (Pretzel Dough)

I have made pretzels in the past, but whenever I do, I use a recipe from Marcus Samuelsson's book New American Table. I really enjoy this book. it is a book which gives praise to the immigrants who really gave American Cuisine its color. Samuelsson is the perfect person to write a book like this since he was born in Ethiopia; was raised in Sweden; and was trained in France.

Samuelsson’s recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of yeast and a ton of salt to keep the yeast in check. It is mixed with a paddle the night before and allowed to rise at room temperature for 8 hours. It is then divided and shaped the following morning. 

Once the pretzels are shaped, they rise for an hour prior to being boiled for thirty seconds in a water and baking soda solution. Just before baking, these pretzels are topped with caraway seeds and grated cheddar cheese. This is a wonderful combination. I have a lot of respect for Marcus Samuelson. I have to admit that since he has become popular  I have lost some of my admiration for him. That being said, he is still a truly beautiful human being. He is like the Dalai Lama with knife skills and if you know me at all, you know that I love the Dalai Lama.

This is the first time that I have used pretzel dough to make hamburger buns. As a matter of fact, this is actually the first time I have ever made hamburger buns. My motivation stems from an interview with a local vegan veggie burger company in town called Luna Burger. They gave me some samples of their veggie burgers and I wanted some really good bread to eat them with, so I made these little gems. This is another bread made with only bread flour. The health of this formula is compromised somewhat by the addition of some butter :). 

The butter in this formula is added chilled and is then mixed into the bread flour with the paddle attachment for about two minutes. After it has mixed thoroughly, it has the appearance of white corn meal, but it is much softer to the touch. Please note that if room temperature butter is used, this effect will not be achieved. Finally, the rest of the dry ingredients are added along with the water. One of the other unique characteristics about pretzel dough is that it is retarded. 

Since I did not actually make pretzels, I am not going to explain the process of forming the pretzel shape at this time. Although it is quite easy to do, I will do that in a future post. 

Olde-fashioned pretzel bakers usually soak the pretzels in a water and lye solution, but this requires some necessary safety precautions. I used baking soda in its place because it creates roughly the same effect. If the baking soda is not added to the water, the dough will not take on the darker color in the oven. As you can see, they do achieve such a wonderful color, and only after 15 minutes in the oven

This formula specifies that the dough can be retarded for up to 24 hours. I only retarded the dough for 3 hours, but I think that I was still able to achieve wonderful flavor. This is due, in part, to the retarding of the dough which really slows down the yeast activity and gives the dough more time to mingle with itself. 

The rolls after 3 hours of retarding

Adding baking soda to the boiling water

Boiling the buns. As you can see the water bubbles in a different way this is due to the basic properties added by the baking soda.

The boiling of the pretzels accomplishes two things. First it awakens the yeast which has been dormant in the cooler for the past 2-24 hours. A good thirty seconds on each side in the boiling water and baking soda solution will bring it back to life. The second attribute achieved, as mentioned before, is a darkening color which will occur in the oven as a result of the baking soda.

The lovely ruddy brown color this formula achieves is amazing!
The finished product has the most beautiful appearance and a wonderful texture. Results like this cannot be bought no matter what the price. 
This weekend is the big bread bonanza, I will be making a LOT of sourdough golden raisin bread and it should be a lot of fun. Keep on reading and baking

1 comment :

  1. These look amazing!! I'm inspired to make pretzel buns to go with my luna burger lunches :) Hope the burgers did the buns justice!