Saffron Pretzel Buns

Saffron has long been a special-occasion spice in Sweden, reserved for the winter holidays and celebrations that call for the return of sunlight. The bright color of these soft pretzel buns invokes brighter seasons to come.

50 mins
12 to 15 mins
5 hrs 27 mins
12 pretzel buns
Saffron Pretzel Buns


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  1. To make the buns: Heat the milk and saffron to a simmer, remove from the heat, add the butter and vanilla, and set the mixture aside to cool to lukewarm.

  2. Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, whisk together the dry ingredients.

  3. Pour the lukewarm milk mixture over the dry ingredients and mix well.

  4. Add the eggs and yolk to the dough, mixing on low speed for 10 to 15 minutes. The dough will be quite soft, but should lose its stickiness and become shiny.

  5. Transfer the dough to a greased bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours or as long as overnight.

  6. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide it into 12 equal pieces, weigh 3 1/4 ounces each. Cover and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

  7. Roll the pieces of dough to ropes about 14" to 16" long and form into pretzel shapes.

  8. Lightly grease two baking sheets, or line with parchment. Place the shaped pretzels on the prepared pas, cover, and let rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until puffy.

  9. Toward the end of the rise time, preheat the oven to 375°F. Beat the reserved egg white with the water and brush all over the pretzels. Sprinkle with pearl sugar.

  10. Bake the pretzels for 11 to 15 minutes, until they're very lightly browned and the center reads 190°F when measured with an instant-read thermometer.

  11. Remove them from the oven and let cool on a rack before serving.

  12. Store the pretzels, well-wrapped, at room temperature for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Tips from our Bakers

  • If you like, sprinkle the pretzels with Swedish Pearl Sugar before baking instead of glazing them afterward.

  • Take each rope and make a U-shaped loop with fairly short ends. Cross the rope near the ends, twist the ends a second time, and fold the twist into the middle of the U. Press the ends of the rope on either side of the bottom center of the loop, creating the classic pretzel shape.