I loved the pretzel rolls I made last week. And I thought to myself, how awesome would it be to have this as a hot dog bun? Maybe the pretzel roll taste would be too strong for a frankfurter, but it just made so much sense with brats. And so began my quest for the perfect brat bun.
Pretzel Hot Dog Bun Recipe – Attempt 1:
1. Find a vessel: my first task was to figure out how to make the hot dog bun shape. I didn’t want just a small pretzel bageutte, as I figured that would make for a bad ratio of bun to meat. The trick would be to get something that could give me that rectangular shape that seems to define hot dog buns. The other thing that defines hot dogs is that you have to tear them apart from each other. So, I looked around my kitchen and came up with two options. (a) I could fit two at a time in my mini loaf pans. Or (b) I could use my favorite mini casserole and try to wedge about four buns next to each other. I thought that the mini loaf pans weren’t quite wide enough, so I went with my mini casserole.
2. Make the pretzel dough: I made my pretzel roll recipe
. It is adapted for the rapid rise yeast I use. Sure, I might get a better result with other kinds of yeast, but I’m lazy and impatient. This is faster. And still quite good.
For pretzel hot dog buns, the only thing you’ll do different is that, instead of rolling the dough into balls, you’ll roll each piece into a ball first and then into a tube. I was looking for dough about the size of a tamale. Let them rest the second time for about 15-20 minutes while covered with a towel.
3. Poach and Wash: I did the usual poach, one at a time, in baking soda in boiling water. I lined my baking sheet and my mini casserole with parchment paper. I hate parchment paper. Who the hell decided on the dimensions. They don’t easily fit inside any of my sheet pans. I always have to get a knife and start cutting it. What a pain.
I set the first four pieces of dough into the mini casserole after poaching. Getting the last one in was interesting. They didn’t really want to fit. They had grown more than I had anticipated during the second rise, and they plumped more still during the poaching. The brush I was using to egg wash each roll after poaching was a good tool to help shimmy all the rolls into the pan.
With the last four, I poached those and set them on my baking tray.
4. Bake: 450 for twenty minutes. Before I set everything in the oven, I scored the tops of the buns. So that I would remember later, I scored the hot dog buns down the center, like a racing stripe. And the buns that baked on the tray, I scored like a mini baguette.
When these came out of the oven, they were magnificent. This is now the third time I have made pretzels at home, and I am still amazed that it comes out the way it does. I pulled the four buns out of the casserole all in one big piece. They stuck together like regular hot dog buns. And when I separated them, they gave off this wonderful waft of pretzel steam. My eyes popped and my jaw dropped. It was like a food commercial.
The strange part about this whole exercise was that, although I had cooked the hot dog pretzel buns, touching side by side, in a casserole in an attempt to control overall size/dimensions, the mini baguette pretzel rolls came out almost the exact same size and shape. Go figure.
Pretzel Ham and Cheese:
That night, I dove into the mini baguettes first. I sliced one down the middle and filled it with ham, cheese, pickles, some greens, and a ton of mayo and spicy spicy mustard. It was pretty damn good. Just like my favorite sandwich at Corner Bakery
. And much more satisfying than the frustratingly small sandwiches at Hannah Bretzel’s
The next day, I got some brats and some sauerkraut. I cooked the brats on the stove, set them aside, and then cut my heat. Then, I put the sauerkraut in the pan I used to cook the brats and stirred them around until they stopped sizzling. This was nice, as it heated up the kraut, cooked off excess liquid, and picked up some nice fond from the pan.
To construct the brats, I cut one open on the side where it used to be attached to the other buns. Then, I put mustard inside. A lot of spicy mustard. You basically have to make it look like you are going to make a mustard sandwich. The pretzel soaks up the mustard pretty well, and if you don’t overload on spicy mustard, you’ll feel like you are missing out later. Then, put the brats inside and devour. These were amazingly good; brats and pretzels are a such a natural combination. This meal created an instant food memory that I’m sure I will not forget for a long time. I just wish my wife weren’t out of town for work at the time. Food is better when she is around. Plus, if she were here, she could have taken a picture of me eating this.
Overall, these were great. If I got these at a restaurant, I would have been quite pleased. But, they weren’t rectangular. And hot dog buns are rectangular. As a result, the ratio of the bun to meat was slightly off at the center of the bun. Next time, I will try my mini loaf pans and see how that goes.