Bavarian pretzel or laugenbrezel in German means “lye pretzel” so of course, we had to be authentic and cave in a buy Sodium Hydroxide to reproduce. Since we are also going traditional, this recipe will be made with a pre-ferment.
In contrast, its American cousin style is packed with butter and makes them more of a hybrid pretzel/brioche.
The german version is a tad less soft (it’s still soft but since it doesn’t pack that much butter it’s less ) but is packing a lot more flavours, thanks to the pre-ferment.
With this recipe, you will end up with a 56% hydration pretzel which I think is on par with the way they make it over there.
Both are best enjoyed in the company of a cold beer!
- 480g all-purpose flour
- 6g instant dry yeast
- 250g lukewarm water ( ~90F)
- 12g salt
- 12g barley malt or brown sugar
- 25g melted butter or lard
- 1g instant dry yeast
- 60g lukewarm water ( ~90F)
- 70g all-purpose flour
- 4cups of cold water
- 28g lye ( sodium hydroxide)
Word of caution before you get started, lye is a dangerous product if mishandled. I strongly recommend you wear gloves and protection glasses. For pretzels, we use a ~3% concentration, be as careful as handling bleach. If you take simple precautions you should be fine. Handle it with the respect it deserves.
If you get it (at a high concentration) on your skin it will burn, cause blisters and unlike acid, they can cause damage after exposure.
Do not use aluminum or wood with sodium hydroxide, it will interact and potentially damage them.
- In a mixing bowl, combine all the pre-ferment, cover with plastic film and leave it at room temperature for 2 hours. Place it in the fridge overnight for a little nap.
- On the next day. In a stand mixer bowl combine the water, malt(or sugar) and yeast and let it bloom for about 10 minutes.
- Add about half the flour and the remaining ingredients. With the dough, the attachment kneads it for 1 minute.
- Add the preferment + another half of the remaining flour. Knead on medium-low speed for another minute.
- Add remaining flour and knead for another 3 minutes or until soft.
I like to knead it by hand for a minute at the end , gives a softer dough
- Remove the dough from the stand mixer bowl, lightly oil the bowl and put the dough back in it. Cover with plastic film and let it rest for 1 hour.
- Take the dough out of the bowl and cut it into 8 to 12 pieces (depending on how big you want them).
- Roll each of the pieces into a roll.
Unlike the American-style pretzel, the German one keeps a “fat belly” and has thin arms. You can do so by not pressing too much on the center of your roll and instead pressing more of the extremities.
- Twist the ends (arms) twice and tuck them back on the belly. Put on a backing tray covered with a parchment paper
- Repeat for all pieces and cover with a clean dishcloth for 30 minutes.
- Remove the dishcloth and place the baking tray ( with the dough) in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. This help tremendously for the next step.
- While you wait, if you have an extra baking tray, cover it with parchment paper and lightly oil it. We will transfer our pretzels to it after we have dipped them in the lye solution. This will prevent any sticking.
- Pre-heat oven at 445F
- It’s now time to prepare the lye solution. Put your gloves on !! Fill your container with water and carefully stir the lye in.
- Take the baking tray out of the freezer.
- Carefully dip each pretzel in the lye bath for 20 seconds. Place on the baking tray with parchment paper that has been oiled. Repeat for all pretzels.
- Using a knife, scar each of the pretzel bellies. Using a bread knife work really well
- Sprinkle some pretzel salt or coarse salt on the pretzels
- Put in the oven for about 15 minutes