We attended our first barbecue of the year at the weekend. The weather was glorious, the company couldn’t have been better and the food was plentiful (though not as plentiful as the alcohol…); all in all it was a lovely day and one that I hope to repeat many times over the summer. But I have never actually hosted my own barbecue; we spent many years living in a flat, making barbecues impossible, and although we now have a house, the garden is very narrow, the patio tiny and the whole garden is in quite a state; it needs some serious work doing to it before we can even fit a barbecue out there, let alone more than two people. We intend to sort it out this summer, and when (if) we do, I’ll finally get round to hosting one and will probably vastly over-cater because I can’t have people round without providing waay too much food – can’t risk anyone going hungry!
These beer pretzel hot dog buns are one of the things I will make; I’ve never been a fan of shop bought hot dog buns, they are too squishy and cotton wooley for my tastes, I prefer bread with a bit more substance and flavour. These beer pretzels are ideal – they have the classic soft-yet-chewy pretzel texture and flavourful deep brown crust, with a bit of extra intensity of flavour from the ale (though you can replace the ale with water and they will still be delicious). They make perfect hot dog buns, or sandwiches, or are delicious just eaten with a bit of cheese; they are also surprisingly easy to make. The dough is a fairly simple bread dough, the bit which turns them into pretzels rather than just buns is the bicarbonate of soda bath they are given before they are baked – this is what gives the crust the ‘pretzel’ flavour. It is very simple to do – you just dip the buns into a pan of hot water mixed with bicarb for 30 seconds each side; it doesn’t take long at all but provides so much flavour, and is also what gives the baked buns their deep brown colour.
For an idea of how to use these, check out my recipe for sausages with beer pretzel buns, beer braised onions and roasted garlic butter.
- 110ml (1/3 + ⅛ cup) lukewarm full fat milk
- 200ml (1/2 + ⅓ cup) lukewarm ale (or water)
- 40g (scant 3 tbsp) butter, melted
- 1 tbsp dark brown soft sugar
- 7g (1 sachet/2 tsp) fast action yeast
- 500g (4 + scant ¼ cups) strong white bread flour
- 1 rounded tsp salt
- 1.5 litres water
- 3 tbsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 1 egg, beaten
- flaky sea salt
- In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, ale, melted butter, sugar and yeast. Add the flour and yeast and mix to form a dough. Turn out onto an un-floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place into a large, lightly oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and either place in the fridge to rise overnight, or in a warm place until doubled in size - about 1.5 hours.
- If the dough was refrigerated, let it come up to room temperature for about half an hour before proceeding with the next step.
- Knock back the risen dough then divide it into eight even pieces (I use a scale for accuracy). Shape each piece into a ball then roll it out into a sausage, about 15cm long. Place them well spaced apart on a lightly greased baking tray then leave to rise, uncovered (but not in a drafty spot) for about 30 minutes, until puffy.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6; line two baking trays with greased baking parchment (the buns have a tendency to stick). Bring the 1.5 litres of water to the boil in a large pan, stir in the bicarbonate of soda then turn down the heat until the water is not even simmering.
- Poach the risen buns two at a time for 30 seconds per side (I use a stopwatch) then use a fish slice to transfer them to the lined baking trays; repeat with the remaining buns.
- Brush the buns with beaten egg then use a lame, extremely sharp knife or razor blade (I use an old fashioned razor blade) to cut three fairly deep diagonal slashes in each bun. Sprinkle the buns with flaky sea salt.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes, until deep brown; don't take them out too early - a lot of the flavour comes from the dark colour.
- Transfer the buns to a wire rack to cool. Eat on the day they are baked.
I am sharing these with Saucy Saturdays hosted by The Flavour Bender, Take Two Tapas, La Petit Chef and Mid-Life Croissant, Fiesta Friday hosted by The Frugal Hausfrau and Aharam, Foodie FriDIY, Foodie Friends Friday and Friday Features