1) To make dough by hand, or with a mixer: Place all of the dough ingredients into a bowl, and beat until well-combined. Knead the dough, by hand or mixer, for about 5 minutes, until it's soft, smooth, and quite slack. Flour the dough, place it in a bag, and allow it to rest for 45 minutes.
2) To make dough with a bread machine: Place all of the dough ingredients into the pan of your bread machine, program the machine for dough or manual, and press Start. Allow the dough to proceed through its kneading cycle (no need to let it rise), then cancel the machine, flour the dough, and give it a rest in a plastic bag, as instructed above.
3) To make dough with a food processor: Place all the dough ingredients except the water in the work bowl of a food processor equipped with the steel blade. Process for 5 seconds. Add the water, and process for 7 to 10 seconds, until the dough starts to clear the sides of the bowl. Process a further 45 seconds. Flour the dough, place it in a bag, and allow it to rest for 45 minutes.
4) While the dough is resting, prepare the topping: Combine the boiling water and baking soda, stirring until the soda is totally (or almost totally) dissolved. Set the mixture aside to cool to lukewarm (or cooler).
5) Prepare a baking sheet by spraying it with vegetable oil spray, or lining it with parchment paper.
6) Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and divide it into six equal pieces; each piece will be about 90g, or 3 1/4 ounces. Shape the pieces into rough logs about 6" long.
7) Allow the logs to rest, lightly covered, for 15 minutes.
8) Roll each piece of dough into a 15" rope, and tie each rope into a square knot. Tuck the ends of the rope into the center of the knot to make a round roll.
9) Pour the baking soda/water into a 9" round cake pan. Place the rolls in the pan, spooning the water over their tops; leave them in the water for 2 minutes before placing them on the baking sheet. This baking soda "bath" will give the buns a nice, golden-brown color.
10) Allow the rolls to rest, uncovered, for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 450°F.
11) Bake the rolls for 5 minutes. Tent them lightly with aluminum foil, and bake for an additional 5 to 8 minutes, or until they're golden brown and feel set on the bottom (when you pull one out of the oven and carefully poke its bottom).
12) Remove the rolls from the oven. Brush them with melted butter, if desired; this will give them a soft, buttery crust. Serve immediately; or cool, then wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.
13) When ready to serve, warm the rolls gently on your barbecue grill, if desired. Split each roll, and fill with boneless grilled chicken, a hamburger, veggie burger, or your favorite grilled treat.
Yield: 6 rolls.