Pretzel Buns

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I’ve never like sports. Up until I was in my early teens, I didn’t actually realize I was athletic. What I mean is, I can’t play soccer, baseball, basketball or any traditional ‘team’ sports. I didn’t realize the fact that I could run was a skill, I just figured since I tripped over my own feet in nearly any sport involving a ball, meant I was hopeless. I quickly realized I was more of an individual-sport athlete. Skiing, cycling, mountain biking and running. Essentially, if no one had to depend on me to win I was good at it-thus instilling my sporty confidence.

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gnardough

Once this mind-blowing epiphany set it, I thought that should mean I would watch sports on TV- and not hate them. Wrong. Skiing, cycling and especially running are excruciatingly boring to watch. The reason I enjoy those sports is the technical challenges one faces, which are hard to assess on a screen. Sure, ski hills are steep and cycling roads are never ending, but I’d much rather be watching the Food Network instead.

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I’ve had the unfortunate experience of attending a football and baseball game in my life. Wasted hours I will never get back. I have to say though, based on my history of sports and lacking interest in viewing them, I did have one thing to look forward to: pretzels. It may sound pretty sad that the highlight of my game-going experience was the over-priced, sodium-loaded pretzel, but that’s just where my priorities lie.

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rainy

My pretzel experience was years ago-but the novelty still remains strong. I didn’t make these buns in anticipation of watching a game, I simply wanted a better-than-bun vessel for my burger. I can’t help however, but reflect on my first introduction to these chewy, salty breads and how funny the circumstances were.

“I’m ring to a baseball game and we’re sitting fourth row from the field.”

“What are you most excited about, catching a ball?”

“No, the pretzels, I’ve never had one before.”

“Oh….”

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Pretzel Buns

Adapted from Epicurious

Makes 4 large buns, 6 medium buns, 8 Slider buns – all adaptable into pretzel shapes

  • 2 3/4 cups bread flour
  • 2 /4 teaspoons
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar or honey
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (about) hot water (125°F to 130°F)
  • Cornmeal
  • 8 cups water
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons sugar or honey
  • 1 egg white, beaten to blend (glaze)
  • Coarse salt
  1. In a large bowl, combine sugar or honey with water and yeast. Let sit until bubbles form, about 5-10 minutes.
  2. Combine bread flour and teaspoon salt in bowl. Add slowly to yeast mixture, turning onto work surface to finish kneading until just combined.
  3. Grease medium bowl. Add dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then towel; let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 35-60 minutes.
  4. Flour baking sheet. Punch dough down and knead on lightly floured surface until smooth. Divide accordingly. Form each dough piece into ball or pretzel shape. Place on prepared sheet, flattening each slightly. Using serrated knife or scissors, cut X in top center of each dough ball. Cover with towel and let dough balls rise until almost doubled in volume, about 20 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 375°F. Add parchment to another baking sheet.
  6. Bring 8 cups water to boil in large saucepan. Add baking soda and 2 tablespoons sugar (water will foam up).
  7. Add 4 rolls and cook 30 seconds per side. Using slotted spoon, transfer rolls to prepared sheet, arranging X side up. Repeat with remaining rolls.
  8. Brush rolls with egg white glaze. Sprinkle rolls generously with coarse salt. Bake rolls until brown, about 25-45 minutes, depending on size. Transfer to racks and cool
  9. . Serve rolls warm or room temperature. (Can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm in 375°F oven 10 minutes.)
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