Homemade Stuffed Pretzels? But, of course!
The Young Chefs Academy Test Kitchen is at it again crafting delicious, homemade creations through their passion for cooking that they can share with YCA students across the globe and beyond.
The Test Kitchen team at Young Chefs Academy came up with a doozy to celebrate National Pretzel Day…Cheesy Stuffed Pretzel Buns! We made our buns from scratch…well because…we ARE a test kitchen and cooking from scratch is our passion! However, you can certainly purchase the pretzel buns from your local bakery in a pinch.
One thing we absolutely love about making homemade pretzel dough is that it requires less rising time and the procedure is unique to making other doughs. The process of boiling the dough is a fascinating experience. Subsequently, this also leads to the most frequent question asked by our students, “Why are we boiling the dough?”
Why boil the dough?
More often than not, there is a purpose for each procedure or step in a baking recipe – patience is essential in baking, as is following the directions. Here, we’ll provide some of the rationales behind the need to boil our pretzel dough before you bake it.
- When making pretzels or bagels, the dough must be parboiled before baking, so be sure not to skip this step! Boiling is an essential part of making pretzels – it’s what gives the dough the chewiness and texture needed in a soft pretzel.
- Boiling the dough does two important things to the pretzels: it makes the outside chewy and gives the golden-brown color we want (although it may not get as dark as the pretzels you find in the grocery stores).
- One other step that helps give the pretzels a dark golden-brown color is when you add baking soda to the water. If baking soda isn’t added, the dough will not turn a golden brown like we associate with pretzels – they will pretty much stay the same color as it started…definitely not as appealing.
- You may see recipes where the pretzels are simply dipped in a hot water bath instead of boiled, however, the longer the dough boils, the thicker and chewier the crust will become.
- And get this…the water doesn’t make the dough soggy, and the dough doesn’t absorb the water like you might think – the starches gelatinize (yes, that’s actually a word!) on the outside of the bun and form a barrier the water can’t penetrate
Want to add a bit more richness to your finished product? Brush the buns with melted butter as soon as they come out of the oven to enhance the flavor…yummmm….
Now, let’s get cooking!
Homemade Cheesy Stuffed Pretzel Buns
For the Pretzel Buns:
1 cup milk
½ cup water
¼ cup light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. honey
1 packet active dry yeast
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup bread flour
8 cups water
½ cup baking soda
Pretzel salt or coarse ground sea salt, for sprinkling
For the Stuffing:
1 cup yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 tsp. butter
½ tsp. salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup roasted red bell peppers, cut in ½ inch strips
3 tsp. fresh parsley, minced
2 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
8 oz. Wisconsin Gouda cheese, grated
8 oz. Wisconsin Fontina cheese, grated
2 cup smoked cooked ham, medium diced
- To make the buns: Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place one oven rack high and one low. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a saucepan, heat the milk, water, sugar and honey to 105°F-110°F. Add the mixture to the bowl of the stand mixer. Sprinkle the yeast over the water mixture and wait for at least 10-15 minutes until the yeast begins to bubble.
- Place the butter in a microwave-safe bowl and melt in the microwave. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flours; set aside.
- When the yeast mixture has become bubbly, add the flour mixture and melted butter. Mix on medium speed until the dough has come together and is smooth and elastic in texture and pulling away from the sides of the bowl, 5-7 minutes.
- Next, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a ball. Roll the ball into a log and cut into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place on the prepared pan. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rest in a warm place for 12-15 minutes.
- Once rested, lightly dust your work surface with flour again and roll the balls into 7-inch logs. Place onto the other prepared pan, cover and rest for an additional 30 minutes.
- In a large pot, bring 8 cups water to a boil, and then add the baking soda. Carefully add one bun at a time into the boiling water. Cook for 45-60 seconds, then use a large metal spatula or spider to remove the bun from the water. Return the buns to the prepared pans. Sprinkle the logs with pretzel salt as they come out of the water, to ensure the salt sticks. Then make three slashes on the top of each bun.
- Bake for 10 to 13 minutes, rotating between the top and bottom racks of the oven halfway through the cooking time. Remove and transfer to wire racks to cool.
- To make the stuffing: Preheat oven to 375˚F. In a small skillet, add the oil and onion and sauté in until soft, 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- In medium bowl, toss sautéed onions with pepper, parsley, thyme, cheeses, and ham.
- To hollow pretzel rolls, cut off on end and set aside.
- Using a thin-bladed knife, gently cut the center out of each bread, leaving ½-inch around the edge. Use a small spoon to scrape out inside bread and discard.
- Next, stuff ¼ of filling mixture into the pretzel breads by using the end of a wooden spoon to gently push the filling into the bread.
- Replace cut-off end, and wrap each bread with foil, leaving open on top.
- Place stuffed breads on baking sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes, until bread is crisp, and filling is warm.
- Slice and serve.
Yield: about 8 servings