From time to time you’ll see the fast food chains advertise a special promotion featuring pretzel buns. They are great with hamburgers but where they shine in particular in my opinion with bbq chicken breast.
Pretzel buns formed ready to boil
Now, you’ll seldom if ever see pretzel buns in the grocery – they just don’t keep very well. The good news though is that they are really easy to make at home – and you can’t get fresher than that!
If you’ve make bagels at home – and you should – making pretzel buns is pretty much the same process.
The key for that great and characteristic crust is to boil the raised buns in a basic water solution before baking – an easy way to go is with baking soda – but I use wood ash (lye) because the wood fired pizza oven I have keeps me in loads of wood ash, and I need it around anyway for making massa for homemade tortillas.
So, easy, simple, quick – and since they are best consumed within a day or so after baking are ideally suited to making in your own kitchen. Of course, I’m making these with home ground whole wheat flour, but if you don’t yet have your own mill commercial flour will do.
Nothing quite says summer like burgers, sausages or hotdogs on the grill or roasted over a fire. But damn, if the food isn’t becoming pricey! It seems like only a couple of years ago hot dogs were 99 cents for a dozen nice ones. Now even the cheap ones are twice that when they come on sale.
If you want to skip right to the fantastic whole wheat hot dog recipe just click on the post title now.
Hot dog buns risen and ready to go in the oven
Anyway, to be perfectly honest commercial hot dogs are only an occasional feature in our home, with homemade sausages being a more common feature – but for roasting over an open fire nothing quite beats hot dogs – so they occasionally find a place in our grocery order.
It’s not only the dog themselves that have climbed in price – the buns too are getting silly expensive – like $2.99 for eight!
Bun pan and the results
We routinely bake our own buns – generally whole wheat with the flour we grind on our homebuilt mill – which produces higher quality product at a fraction of the price. So when I saw a New England style hot dog pan on the King Arthur website for $30 bucks US I picked it up. I mean that’s less than 15 uses to more than pay it off.
The thing is built incredibly solidly. The silicon coating may eventually fail but the underlying steel is heavy enough to last for a few generations if taken care of – now that’s the type of investment I like! It also cuts prep time even more – simply form the dough into the pan and let it do it’s second rise in the pan then slide into the oven and that’s it – perfectly sized buns for hot dogs (or sausages!)
Now the instructions on the KA website call for putting a cookie sheet over the top of the pan – I’ve never bothered, the buns are a bit taller but I prefer the less dense feel.
All in all this is a great kitchen tool – if you are short cash just form buns individually, but if you can afford the investment I think you’ll be very pleased with it.
Bread Dough rolled out, oiled and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon and ready to be rolled up
It’s telling that a whole franchise – and a rather successful on at that – can be built on one very narrow product – cinnamon buns. I guess, upon further reflection I guess that isn’t so unique, but it may be a bit telling as to how easily many of us part with cash that we’d be willing to pay such a premium for what is really a very simple bread product.
If you haven’t made cinnamon buns at home you should. The process is really very simple – and the bread machine takes all of the real effort out of the process.
This is one more case where silicon bakeware really shines. Cleanup of any sugary “leakage” from the buns is easily snacked on or washed up.
Cinnamon buns ready for second rise before going in the oven
For soft sided buns put the dough into a pan so that when doubled in bulk the buns contact each other, if you want harder outer crusts place them on a baking sheet with separation between the buns.
Shifting from producing loaves of bread with a tried and true recipe to hamburger buns (or dinner rolls for that matter) is as simple as can be. Fundamentally we are only reshaping the dough and then baking it in the oven rather than allowing the bread machine pan to define the shape and the machine to do the baking for us.
The taste of summer – a burger with all the fixings piled high on a toasted whole wheat bun
Whole wheat buns are a great combination with burgers – instead of squishing into thin disk of wheat paste they hold their shape without being too dense and add a heartiness to a burger that just isn’t there with store bought fare. Baking your own not only provides unrivaled freshness but also allows you to determine the size of the buns… Baby buns for the wee folks, mama buns or even the papa buns that hold the largest burgers.
The process is so easy that you can’t go wrong and after you’ve had these you won’t want to return to store bought fare so get some fresh whole wheat flour and get baking.
Here we are using the standard Baler-Twine bread recipe, but setting the machine on the dough cycle instead of the bread cycle. If your machine’s dough cycle stops after the first rise reset it to the dough cycle and let the machine kneed the dough again before shutting it off and removing the dough.