29 – Fleischmann’s Pretzel Buns

As an adult, whenever I take a ferry across from mainland B.C. to Vancouver Island, a very familiar scent wafts across my nose. Oddly enough, it’s not the smell of the ocean, but rather a chlorine or other chemical type of aroma. I call it an aroma, but I use that word quite loosely. Where some might find these chemicals to be less aromatic – and more noxious – I find them quite agreeable.

This ferry-related smell, specifically (though I’m not sure which chemical combination produces it) reminds me of my grandparents’ farm, a place I haven’t visited for about 20 years. Though the farm is coincidentally located on Vancouver Island, the smell (I’m quite certain) isn’t related to childhood ferry rides. My grandparents had an indoor pool in their farmhouse, and though I remember little else of the time I spent visiting the farm, the scent of that pool remains. Even the countless years spent in chlorinated pools as a competitive swimmer haven’t somehow diluted the connection I feel when that particular scent hits my nose.

Maybe I should upgrade my statement made earlier: I don’t just find the scent agreeable – I absolutely love it. It takes me back to a happier time and a happier place, to a time before my grandma passed away and my grandfather’s enthusiasm for life was robbed by his suspected Alzheimer’s.

Do you have anything like that? A scent or a taste – some sort of sensation, or some sort of prompt – that instantly takes you back to another time? I hope you do. I think that for some, they may not even realize what it (whatever “it” may be, scent, taste, or otherwise) reminds us of, but it makes us feel warm inside all the same.

I think that sensation/memory connection is part of what inspired me to do this particular recipe. I had a pretty amazing Saturday this past week, and I guess I tried to replicate the only part I felt I could easily. That Saturday involved a delicious lunch with my better half, my best man and his bride, and their newborn baby. It also involved a scenic drive through the countryside, some redeemed Groupons for coffee-related drinks at The Wired Monk, Breathtaking Butter Chicken leftovers, and post-concert drinks with friends. Oh, also, before the post-concert drinks, there was obviously a concert – which we had front row tickets for!

alan doyle stage
My all-time favourite musician, and the pride of Petty Harbour, Newfoundland: Alan Doyle (of Great Big Sea fame). This was my third time seeing him perform, and all those have come within the last two years or so.
Mr. Doyle was kind enough to do a meet-and-greet after the show, which was super exciting for someone as fanatical about his music as I am.
Mr. Doyle was kind enough to do a meet-and-greet after the show, which was super exciting for someone as fanatical about his music as I am. For those readers out there who don’t know me, I don’t usually have such a goofy grin on my face. I think I was caught half-way between smiling and giving instructions on how to use my phone’s camera.

So yeah, it was a totally awesome day that I couldn’t wait to reminisce about. So…I tried to recreate my lunch from that day, a delicious burger with a pretzel bun.

Notice the lack of “burger” in my title – that part didn’t go so well. I used a recipe (from the yeast-producing company Fleischmann’s®), that produced a beautiful-looking, juicy burger. Unfortunately, it was devoid of all flavour. As well, the buns were difficult to roll on my first attempt, and were more the size of slider buns than burger buns.

Thankfully, I took my lack of burger success as an excuse to make a second batch a day later. The second batch tasted just as good as the first, but were much more reasonable in size (think softballs instead of baseballs).

As I followed the recipe to a “t”, and I’ve once again taken more of your precious time than I’ve intended, let’s get to the photos that sadly seem to have regressed in quality since my last post.

Making dough isn’t exciting, and neither is letting it rise. That being said, I covered the rising dough with a tea towel from my travels with Mateja, helping to evoke even more good memories.
Buns, post-rolled and pre-boiled.
The recipe calls for you to boil the buns in a mixture of water and baking soda for 2 minutes. This picture is from my first attempt, when I let the mixture boil over and, as a result, burn me slightly.
My four buns after boiling, which actually resembled recognizable shapes the second time around. You can see that I’ve experimented with the way I cut slits into the top of the buns.
The final, tasty product. If I attempt to make them for burgers again (this attempt they accompanied Jamie Oliver’s Chilli Con Carne), I’ll definitely squish the buns down a bit before boiling and baking.
Another shot of the end result. I love the contrast between the outer part of the bun and the inside of it (as well as where the slits are made).

Anyways, that’s my time for tonight. I’ll leave you with one picture to emphasize how comical my first attempt at making appropriately-sized and shaped pretzel buns was, and my best wishes for you: happy cooking!

To put this picture into context, the tomato you see on top is a Roma tomato – not quite a cherry tomato, but pretty small none the less.
So small, nothing seems to fit inside. The burger patty may look strange because I cut a slider-sized piece of meat out of a larger patty using a glass. No, classy is not my middle name.

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