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(Experiment 5)American pretzel with lye

In this house we LOOOVE pretzel. Ever since I decided to up my pretzel game and use lye to make them , the kids have been asking me to cook some weekly !

These pretzel are soft and tasty on their own but they will accompany your favorite pretzel dip too , if you can hold that long.

You need ( gives about 6)

  • 380g all-purpose flour ( have an extra ~50g laying around)
  • 4.5g salt
  • 3.5g instant dry yeast
  • 1cup warm water around 110F
  • 30g melted butter (If you love butter you can put up to 45gr )
  • Some oil
  • 19g barley malt or sugar
  • coarse salt

Lye solution

  • 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, can cause damage after exposure.

Do not use aluminum or wood with sodium hydroxide, it will interact and potentially damage them.


  1. In a bowl mix the flour and salt, reserve
  2. Put the sugar, water, and yeast into a standing mixer bowl and whisk. Wait 5-10min
  3. Turn the stand mixer on low and put butter in
  4. Start adding about half the flour. Turn stand mixer on with dough hook and knead for 1 minute. It will still be very wet. Add about 2/3 of flour left and knead for 1 minute. You will likely need to add all the flour and even add more. I had to add a good 50g extra to reach the right consistency. You are looking for a slightly tacky dough, not super sticky but not dry either.

    Depending on a lot of factors ( measuring, temperature and humidity) you will need to add more or less flour each time you do this recipe.
  5. Oil the inside of a large bowl and dump the dough in it, cover with plastic film or lid. Let it rest for about an hour.
  6. Take the dough out of the bowl and cut it into 8 to 12 pieces (depending on how big you want them).
  7. Roll each of the pieces into a roll.
  8. 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.
  9. Twist the ends (arms) twice and tuck them back on the belly. Put on a backing tray covered with a parchment paper
  10. Repeat for all pieces and cover with a clean dishcloth for 30 minutes.
  11. Remove the dishcloth and place the baking tray ( with the dough) in the freezer for 30 minutes. This help tremendously for the next step.
  12. 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.
  13. Pre-heat oven at 445F
  14. It’s now time to prepare the lye solution. Put your gloves on !! Fill your container with water and carefully stir the lye in.
  15. Take the baking tray out of the freezer.
  16. 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.
  17. Sprinkle some pretzel salt or coarse salt on the pretzels
  18. Cook for 15 mins

Remove the pretzel from the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes on a cooling rack

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