A Quick and Easy Version
I love pretzel, with its crunchy outside texture but soft inside, and its strong flavor, which contrasts so well with milky sweetness of the dough. When I go to Austria or Germany I stuff myself, especially matched with local delicatessen. Yet when I think of the pretzel, the first thing that comes to my mind is not the counter of a Stube with the classic pilsner mug overflowing of foam but …. an American restaurant in Tennessee.
I remember it like it was yesterday: I was on the road to Lynchburg with the mates of that adventure. In the evening we had an appointment with our friends of KCBS IO team and after the customary pleasantries, we decide to eat all together in a nice street side bistro. The kitchen was quite original, outside the traditional rules even if nothing indelibly engraved in the memory. Late in the evening adds to the group the second part of the team, who had just arrived in the States with a few days late, and they decide to order a bite on the fly by choosing it from the “hamburger” menu, we skipped loftily. The rest is a fresco painting in my temporal lobe: they come up with an “ugly” burgers, to define it at the way by “Giorgione” (I know, that foreigners won’t understand this) nestled in a bun made like a Pretzel: crisp and browned outside, soft and plump inside, with a characteristic cross in the top area to remember the classic split of the original one. Needless to say, The Pretzel Burger has been sacrificed to the collective sharing.
The version that you find below is the result of several attempts, followed at a suitable research to replicate that fantastic experience.
Ingredients (for 6 buns):
200 ml. of Milk
50 ml. of Butter Milk
80 gr. Butter cut in small pieces
25 gr of fresh yeast (or 1 sachet of the lyophilized one)
2 tea spoons of Salt
2 spoons of Brown Sugar
400 gr. of Flour
1 spoon of Milk
3 Lt. of Water
90 gr. Baking Soda
- As first heat the milk to 35 degrees and add the yeast, leaving it to act calmly. In the case of the fresh yeast, it will take very little, for lyophilized one it’s best to wait about twenty minutes at least, until it begins to make bubbles. Then add the remaining ingredients except the salt and knead firmly. Finally add the salt and finished to blend until a smooth paste.
- What follows is a step to be done fairly quickly because the dough is very buttery. Obtained some balls of about 80 grams of weight. Now follow me well: grab the ball between the thumb, index and middle fingers of both hands and holding the ball with the these last two fingers, sunk thumbs in the center, up to swell the pasta at the opposite end. Now, slipping thumbs, join the pasta edges held by forefinger and thumb. In doing so you will get the small round loaves with the surface perfectly smooth. If you notice some imperfections, repeat the process.
- Now place the dough on a tray and cover with a cloth, leaving it rise slowly. The dough is very heavy, it can take up to two hours. However, the objective is that approximately will double its volume
- Put water in a pot and take it to a boil, then pour in the baking soda. I suggest you put it in a bit ‘at a time, you will avoid to flood the work plan. Once done, in the meantime you begin to heat the oven to 180 ° C (the Spirit in my case). With the help of a skimmer now put the dough balls in the water with the top side facing down. After a few minutes, try to flip it upside down. If the side that was submerged became slightly yellowish means that cooking is sufficient, otherwise flip it again.
- Finally, position the dough on a baking tray. With the help of a knife engrave an “X” on the surface, about half a centimeter deep. The effect should be to affect an outer casing, similar to when you cut a Burrata Cheese. If not so, it means that something was wrong in the cooking phase. As a last step, beat the egg with the spoon of milk and brush with it the surface, after which you place the dough in baking. After about 20 minutes you will see that the buns have got a beautiful brown color and will swell, although slightly less than a classic bun.
Finally, remove from cooking and let cool. Now would be the time to go ahead with the recipe for a delicious burger, which makes me relive the excitement of that time in Tennessee. But that’s another story