Granddad Max and Mouse were about to put a new batch of buns in the oven when Deutsch Fraulein came running along. “Stop, stop” she shouted waving frantically with her arms. “I want to show you something! This is my favourite recipe…”
Mouse and Granddad Max nearly dropped the tray. “Wait your turn.”
“No, really!” Deutsch Fraulein was short of breath and puffing. “You can turn these into pretzel buns and they will taste so much better.”
“Pretzel buns? What’s that?” Granddad Max obviously thought it was a new thing.
“You know, like the nibbles, the little pretzel bows you can buy in a packet. Where I come from they are much bigger, just like normal buns.” And then Deutsch Fraulein admitted that she missed them a lot. She had to learn how to make them as you couldn’t buy them here. Now you can, though, in a few places, but they’re so expensive Deutsch Fraulein can’t afford them.
“Are you sure it is the same recipe?” asked Mouse.
“Yes, absolutely” said Deutsch Fraulein. “The difference is, before you place them in the oven, you boil them for 1 minute in a solution of baking soda and water. Sounds strange, I know. Just trust me.”
Granddad Max and Mouse looked at each other and weren’t quite sure what to make of it.
“Just run the whole recipe past me again” asked Mouse. She wanted to check if it really was the same dough.
2.5 cups of flour, 1 cup of warm water (or half water and half milk) and 1 teaspoon of dry yeast. For the pretzel solution: 1.5 liters of water and 2 generously heaped table spoons of baking soda and rock salt to sprinkle on top
Pour flour into a bowl, make a well in the middle and add half the water and the yeast. Let sit for 15 minutes until the yeast is sloshy.
Knead to a dough on a flat surface, adding the rest of the water. Then put it back into the bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and put in a warm place until it has doubled in size.
Knead again, divide into 8 balls and let rise once more.
Preheat the oven to 200 0C. At the same time prepare the pretzel solution: in a large pot pot bring water to the boil. Be very careful when you add the baking soda to the boiling water as it will foam.
After the buns have risen again, boil them in the baking soda solution for 1 minute. Then place on baking paper on a tray. Sprinkle with rock salt. You will need the salt to get the flavour. If you don’t want to eat so much salt you will have to scrape it off after baking.
With a sharp knife, cut an x on top of each one and then bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
“But why do you make pretzel buns not pretzels?” asked Mouse.
“It’s just a different shape” admitted Deutsch Fraulein “Keeping the shape of a pretzel when you are moving the risen pieces to the pot and back is a little trickier, but not a problem with a skimmer” She took one of the pieces of dough and turned it into a real pretzel.
“The boiling in the brine makes it a pretzel. You can make any shape, of course, but nothing beats the real pretzels with the thin crunchy bit on one side and the softer part on the other where you can put your spreads.”