One dark, early February morning, I woke up from a sound sleep with these two words in my head:
Had I read about pretzel buns in a food magazine? Seen them online?
Maybe they were somewhere on the Food Network (watching "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives" being one of my favorite brain-candy pastimes).
Whatever their provenance, I was now seeing golden brown twists of dense bread, sliced into top and bottoms and cradling barbecued chicken.
That's right, chicken. Because chicken had also been on my mind, seeing as it's the #1 most searched for recipe term online.
It seems EVERYONE wants chicken recipes. I regularly check a Google site that lists search terms in order of how many people are using them.
When I type in "chicken recipe," here's what comes up (imagine the words "chicken recipe" succeeding each of the words or phrases below):
"Fried, rotisserie, leftover, whole, teriyaki, baked, slow cooker, good, canned, quick, and simple."
To say nothing of "ground, best, stuffed, easy, curry, Chinese, orange, great, fast, roast, bbq, sesame, barbecue..."
BBQ. Barbecue! Now there's a way to marry chicken recipes with flour – a substantial amount of flour, not just the amount you'd use to flour your drumsticks before frying.
After all, our business goal here is to encourage you to bake with King Arthur Flour. No brag, just fact: it's the best, most consistent national brand of flour you can buy. We're justly proud of our flour, and we want the whole world to enjoy it.
So, the most-searched-for recipes online (chicken) + the best flour = well, buns, of course!
Pretzel Sandwich Rolls, to be exact.
Dense, chewy, golden twists, perfect for a piece of [fried, rotisserie, leftover, teriyaki, baked, orange, roast, BARBECUE) chicken!
Place the following ingredients in a mixing bowl:
2 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) softened butter
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning or 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder, optional
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
2/3 to 3/4 cup lukewarm water (about 105°F)*
*Use the greater amount of water in the winter, the lesser amount in the summer, and somewhere in between in the spring and fall. Your goal is a soft dough.
Beat until well-combined.
Knead the dough (by hand or mixer) for about 5 minutes, until it's soft, smooth, and quite slack.
To make the 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, and remove the dough.
This dough is also a great candidate for your food processor. Place everything but 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.
Dust the dough with flour, and place it in a large bag; securing the top of the bag to keep out drafts (and retain moisture). Let the dough rest and rise for 45 minutes.
Alternatively, transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl or large measuring cup, cover it, and let it rise for 45 minutes.
While the dough is resting, prepare the topping. Combine 1 cup boiling water with 2 tablespoons baking soda, stirring until the soda is totally (or almost totally) dissolved. Set the mixture aside to cool to lukewarm (or cooler).
Prepare a baking sheet by spraying it with vegetable oil spray, or lining it with parchment paper.
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. Allow the logs to rest, lightly covered, for 15 minutes.
Roll each piece of dough into a 15" rope, and tie each rope into a knot. Tuck the ends of the rope into the center of the knot to make a round bun.
Pour the baking soda/water into a 9" round cake pan.
Place the buns 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.
Allow the buns to rest in the pan, uncovered, for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 450°F.
Bake the buns 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).
Remove the buns 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.
When ready to serve, warm the buns gently on your barbecue grill, if desired.
Split each bun, and fill with boneless grilled chicken, a hamburger, veggie burger, or your favorite grilled treat.
Read, bake, and review (please! – see below) our recipe for Pretzel Sandwich Rolls.
Print just the recipe.
Postscript: This recipe, as originally written, represents many little failures on my part. And, much as I hate to admit to them in print, these failures point out one of the key features of our recipe site: reader reviews.
With a million projects begging for attention, I was in a hurry to get this recipe done and posted online. And in the process, I messed up several steps. Working from an older recipe on our site, I neglected to change a few key pieces: like making six buns, instead of eight. And letting the buns rise a bit before baking.
Thank goodness, the first two reviewers gave this recipe just one star out of a possible five. OUCH! I read what they had to say, looked over the recipe, and sure enough: the problems they'd experienced were due in part to my sloppy recipe writing.
I decided I'd best not only rewrite, but retest the recipe; and in the process found myself making several more tweaks, to yield a better final product.
So, my thanks to reviewers "sam from Boise, Id." and "lcjmsass from KAF Community." Sometimes it takes a community to make a successful recipe.