Easy Pretzel Buns
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You might not be a professional baker, but you’re going to feel like one when you make Erin McDowell’s easy pretzel buns. They’re like the fancy sandwich rolls you find at restaurants, except—dare we say?—better.
“I love pretzels, and these buns are really versatile,” McDowell tells us. “You can make them small, like dinner rolls, but they’re great in this larger format for sandwiches: a simple ham and cheese sandwich, a roast beef sandwich or a hot sandwich like chicken parm would be delicious.
“Making your own bread can feel really complicated,” she continues, “but the flavor and texture that you get is so worth it. And this one is especially fun because it can be hard to find pretzel buns at a regular grocery. If it doesn’t exist, it’s time to make it yourself!”
Speaking of which, let’s get working on that chicken parm sammie.
5½ cups (704g) bread flour, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
4 tablespoons (56g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
⅓ cup (88g) baking soda
1 large egg
1 tablespoon whole milk
Coarse sea salt (such as Maldon), for finishing
1. Make the Dough: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, mix the flour, sugar, salt and yeast to combine, about 30 seconds.
2. Add 1½ cups (349g) warm water (about 95°F to 100°F) and the butter, and mix on low speed until the dough comes together, about 3 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to mix until the dough is very smooth, about 4 minutes more. Lightly grease a large bowl with nonstick spray, and transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rise at room temperature until double in size, 1 hour to 1½ hours.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 8 even pieces (about 145g each). Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let rest on the work surface for 10 minutes.
4. Shape the Pretzel Rolls: Working one at a time, cup your hand over a piece of dough and roll it in a circular motion on the work surface to form it into a tight round. Cover the rolls loosely with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let rise on the work surface, 45 minutes to 1 hour more.
5. Make the Baking Soda Solution: Preheat the oven to 425°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Bring 6 cups (1,356g) water to a simmer over medium heat and then stir in the baking soda. Working in batches, add two or three buns to the water at a time. Soak, gently flipping once or twice, for about 1 minute. Using a wire strainer or slotted spoon, gently drain the buns and transfer them to the prepared baking sheets, staggering to leave room for the buns to rise and spread.
6. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and milk to combine. Using a pastry brush, gently egg wash each bun all over, then sprinkle with the coarse salt. Use scissors to cut an X shape into the surface of each roll. Bake until the pretzel buns are deeply golden brown, 18 to 22 minutes. Cool at least 20 minutes before serving warm, or cool completely.