I’ve been making this Pizza-Stuffed Pretzel Buns recipe for a while, mainly for my son’s sake. Like many teens, he loves fast food. Like many moms, I don’t feel good about letting him have it very often.
Life is hectic for everyone these days, which makes fast food or pizza delivery far too tempting. That’s why I like to make and keep on hand snacks and meals that freeze well. These handheld goodies are the latest addition to the supply.
How to Make Pizza-Stuffed Pretzel Buns
The recipe is straightforward and doesn’t need a step-by-step tutorial. Still, there are a few things to keep in mind to get the best results.
Why You Must Add Flour in Increments
Don’t dump all of the flour into this or any baking recipe. The amount you’ll need is affected by the weather. If the air is cold and dry, you probably won’t use all of the flour called for in the recipe. If it’s hot and humid, you will.
So, add the flour a half cup at a time. Wait until each addition is mixed in before deciding whether you need to add more. Stop when the mixture clears the sides of the bowl.
How to Know You’ve Kneaded Enough
Combining flour with a liquid creates strands of a protein known as gluten. It’s this protein that makes the dough elastic and strong, so it gains volume when rising. A well-kneaded mixture has a finer texture.
You can knead the dough by hand or in a stand mixer. If you’re using a machine, stop every couple of minutes to check your progress. Over-kneading will create a tough dough, while under-kneading makes a floppy one.
You’re done kneading when the dough looks slightly blistered on top, and you don’t feel any graininess to it. You should be able to hold a ball of it in your hand without it spreading all over the place. If you can poke it with your finger and the dent fills up quickly, it’s ready.
Why and Where to Let Dough Rise
Do not skip the rising time when making a yeast-based dough recipe. Rising gives yeast organisms a chance to feed off the sugar. When yeast consumes sugar, it produces many types of molecules, including carbon dioxide, that add volume and flavor. Yeast performs this work best when it’s neither too hot nor too cold.
Professional bakers use an exact formula to calculate the optimum temperature and time to let the dough rise. For home bakers, placing the bowl in a warm, draft-free spot works just fine.
First, cover the entire bowl with a damp towel to keep the surface of the dough from drying out while it’s rising. Then set it in your chosen spot to rise. Places that work include:
- Placed inside a microwave installed above the cooktop with the stove light on.
- Turn on your oven’s light (but not the heating element) when you start the recipe, and it will be warm enough for the dough by the time it’s ready to rise.
- On a heating pad set to low. Turn the pad off after 10 minutes to avoid overheating the dough.
- On the kitchen counter away from a draft if your indoor temperature is between 75-78F (24-26C).
- Beneath a reading lamp with an incandescent bulb turned on, but still away from drafts and vents.
How to Punch Down Dough
Despite what the phrase suggests, punching down dough is not an aggressive move. It does not involve repeated hits, either. Think of it as deflating the batter, not rendering it senseless.
Aim for the center of the dough and push your fist right in there. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear a quiet little whoosh as the larger air bubbles collapse. Gather the edges of the dough around your wrist, and lift the entire thing to a lightly floured worktop, then continue with the next step.
If your family members can’t agree on pizza toppings, don’t fret. Many fillings will work, as long as they don’t release a lot of moisture when they cook. (Sorry, pineapple pizza fans.)
What about mushrooms? Feel free to add your favorite fungi but sautee and pat them dry first since mushrooms release a lot of water.
Here are some we love:
- Chicken, spinach, and shredded Gouda
- Pepperjack, jalapeño, and chorizo
- Bacon and caramelized onion
- Cooked Italian sausage crumbles and sliced black olives
- Chopped Canadian bacon, sauteed mushrooms, and smoked Gouda
Pizza Stuffed Pretzel Buns
- Stand Mixer
- Deep Pot
- Baking Sheets
- Baking Rack
- Rolling Pin
For the Buns
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast – 2 packets
- 6 tablespoons brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons butter – melted
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose white flour – unsifted, divided
- 2 teaspoons table salt
- 6 ounces sliced pepperoni
- 6 ounces cheddar cheese – grated
- 6 ounces mozzarella cheese – grated
- Coarse pretzel salt
- 1 cup baking soda – bicarbonate in UK
- 6 cups water
- 4 tablespoons butter – melted
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
Make the Dough
- Heat the milk until lukewarm. If microwaving, 90 seconds should do it. Do not let the milk boil.
- Transfer the warmed milk to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk. Wait 3 minutes. Add the melted butter and sugar.
- With the stand mixer on low, begin adding flour a little at a time until the dough just clears the sides of the bowl. You should be able to touch it without it sticking to your fingers. Add more flour as needed. Turn the mixer to 2 and knead the dough for 10 minutes.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer, cover it with a damp kitchen cloth, and let the dough rise for 1 hour in a warm place away from drafts. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6.
- Punch the dough down and divide it into 14 pieces. Pat each piece gently to form a 3-inch circle. Place 4 or 5 pepperoni slices in the center of a circle. Top with 1 tablespoon of each cheese. Pull the edges of the circle up over the fillings and pinch them together. (Dip fingertips in water if needed to help pinch the dough tightly closed.) Pat into a bun shape.
- Make the boiling mixture by combining water and baking soda in a deep pot. Bring this to a boil over high heat.
- Add 3 filled pretzel buns to the boiling water. Wait 30 seconds, flip them, and wait an additional 30 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the boiled buns to a greased baking sheet. Continue until all buns have been boiled.
Bake the Buns
- Use a very sharp knife to cut an X in the top of each bun. DO NOT slice so deeply that the fillings spill out! Sprinkle the buns with coarse pretzel salt if desired. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
- While the pretzel buns are baking combine the butter wash ingredients. Brush this on the buns as soon as you remove them from the oven. Let cool on a rack 5 minutes before serving.