In a bowl coated with cooking spray, place the dough, flipping it over so the top is oiled, too. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise until doubled, about an hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Turn out risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into equal pieces, depending on the shape you desire. To make a tight bun shape, balance the dough on your middle finger and pull the sides down and under, pinching to make a smooth ball. Place each shaped piece of dough on a baking sheet. Once all are shaped, cover with a clean dish towel and set aside to rest.
Spray another baking sheet with cooking spray, then sprinkle with cornmeal. (The poached dough can stick to a baking sheet, so using both oil and cornmeal matters. Don’t use parchment paper; if you have a Silpat, life is good.)
While the dough is resting, begin heating about 12 cups of water in a large pot. When it comes to a gentle boil, slowly add the baking soda. It will foam and bubble vigorously.
Add the rested pieces of dough to the simmering water, poaching them for 30 seconds, then flipping them over for another 30 seconds. You may need to do this in two batches.
With a slotted spoon or spatula, lift and place poached buns on the prepared baking sheet. Froth egg white with a fork, then brush each bun with egg white. Using a box cutter or sharp knife, make 2 to 4 slits across the top of each bun, about 1/4-inch deep. Sprinkle with salt, then bake for 20 minutes until deep brown.
Cool on wire rack. Pretzel buns are best eaten the same day they’re baked. If you need to freeze them, or bag them for the next day, omit the salt sprinkle.
Nutrition information per serving:
Calories 121 Fat 2 g Sodium 316 mg
Carbohydrates 22 g Saturated fat 1 g Calcium 17 mg
Protein 3 g Cholesterol 16 mg Dietary fiber 1 g
Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1½ bread/starch, ½ fat.
MODERN COQ AU VIN √
Serves 4 to 6.
Note: From Cook’s Illustrated magazine. “A medium-bodied, fruity red wine such as pinot noir or Rhône Valley Grenache is best for this recipe,” writes author Sandra Wu. “Avoid bold, heavily oaked red wine varietals like cabernet, and light-boded wines like Beaujolais.”
• 1 bottle (750 ml) medium-bodied red wine, divided