13 Stages of Bread Making
Mix your dough and bulk proof until double in bulk. Punch it down, round the dough and divide your dough into the sizes you want for your buns. Place your buns on your pan, keep them covered and let them raise. While they are raising you will prepare the water bath.
Water bath Recipe
2 quarts water
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup baking soda
The water bath gives your buns a dark brown color and a wonderful pretzel flavor. You do not need a large deep pan, a 10" electric frying pan works very well.
Bring the water, salt, and baking soda to a boil. When your buns have risen, drop several of them into the boiling water bath. Cook for about 30 seconds then flip them over for another 30 seconds. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and put them back onto the baking sheet. repeat this procedure with all of the buns.
For that signature pretzel bun look, use scissors or a sharp knife to cut 1/2″-deep crosses into the center of each bun. This step is optional; but will give your buns a pattern when they bake.
Sprinkle each bun with the topping of your choice. If you use sea salt as the topping reduce the amount of salt in the recipe. You could use any seeds, onions anything that will give them a nice look.
The additional water bath causes the buns to brown quicker then usual so I suggest that you put then on a lower rack in the oven to bake. Bake as usual but keep your eye on them. If they are getting a bit to brown cover them with foil for the remaining baking time.
Bake smaller buns for a shorter amount of time; larger buns, longer. If you have a digital thermometer, the temperature of a perfectly baked bun will be 190°F at its center.
If you’re baking two pans of buns, and they both won’t fit on a lower rack, it’s OK to bake one while the other sits. The water bath has stopped a lot of the yeast action, so the waiting buns won’t let them over-rise.
Salt-topped buns are best consumed the day they’re made.The salt on top of the buns will dissolve into the bun. This will result in a puckered appearance of your buns. Buns topped with seeds rather than salt hold up better, though they still suffer a little bit of puckering due to the salt in the water bath.
King Arthur Flour