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Soft pretzel (Bretzel) recipe
  • scoobscoob
    Posts: 16,617
    If there is any German baked good that goes well with beer, it must be the Brezel. The Brezel is part of what is called Laugengebäck (lye bread) in Germany. Over there you will also find it many more shapes than just the Brezel. I, for example, am a big fan of the Laugenbrötchen (lye roll) and here is how to make them at home.


    Here is what you need for the dough. Like many baking recipes it is completely weight based (except for the yeast which is simple rapid rise dry yeast):

    ingredient
    bread flour 500 g
    dry malt extract (*) 20 g
    butter or margarine 10 g
    salt 11 g
    Rapid rise dry bread yeast 1 tsp (or 1 packet)
    water 245 g

    (*) if you are out of dry malt extract use 10g table sugar.


    Preheat the oven to 375 F.

    1 - Weigh the ingredients. You don't have to weigh them in separate containers or anything, I weigh them one by one while adding them to the mixing bowl

    2 - Using a powerful kitchen mixer like a KitchenAid, kneed the dough for 10-15 min until smooth. You'll notice that Brezel dough is stiffer than normal bread or pizza dough. That makes the resulting bread denser and working with it much harder

    3 - Once the dough has been kneaded let it rest for a few minutes before portioning. When making Brezels I don't want the dough to rise before forming the Brezels since it makes rolling the necessary long strands more difficult. To ensure evenly sized Brezels and rolls I aim for about 70-80 g (2.4 - 2.5 oz) per dough ball. You may use more or less depending on the desired size

    4 - Now form a smooth dough ball. This is done by stretching a thin membrane of dough over the ball and pinching it close at the bottom of the ball. Check out the last few minutes of Good Eat's Flat Is Beautiful. Alton Brown does a much better job describing it than I can do here. Keep in mind that it is easier to do with a soft pizza dough than a stiff Brezel dough.

    5 - Place the ball on the counter with its top up and roll it around under your flat hand. This will smoothen it further. If the dough ball keeps slipping, moisten your hands with water

    6 - Keep the completed dough balls covered to prevent them from drying out

    7 - For Brezels you need to make long strands of dough. Take a dough ball and start rolling it into a log. Moistening your hand makes rolling the fairly dry Brezel dough easier. You'll also notice that the dough doesn't like to be stretched very far. This is why you have to make the strands in steps. First roll them all to about 10 cm (4 in) in length and let them rest. Then roll them to about 25 cm (10 in) and let them rest again. Finally you should be able to roll and stretch them to about 40-60 cm (16-20 in). Resting the dough between rolling and streching allows the gluten proteins to relax before they can be stretched further

    8 - Finally the strands will be long enough to be formed into a Brezel. The strands should be thicker in the middle and have a slight taper towards the end. To tie the Brezel lay the strand in an U-shape....

    9 - ... pull the left end towards the lower right and the right towards the lower left.

    10 - Take the end that is now on the right and pull it back over to the left where you pinch it onto the Brezel. (you are just making a twist in the center)

    11 - Do the same with the end that is now on the left and done is your Brezel shape (see? A twist in the middle!)

    Once the Brezels, rolls and other pieces have been formed let them rest and rise for 20-30 min. After that it is time for a lye bath!

    Lye, also known as sodium hydroxide or caustic soda, is a fairly aggressive substance and should be handled with care. (Keep it out of reach of children and pets... duh) you may want to wear safety glasses and gloves whenever you are using it. Clean spills of lye solution immediately. Please review this material safety data sheet for lye Sodium Hydroxide / Lye MSDS for possible dangers and first aid.

    Brezels and lye rolls get their characteristic taste and dark brown color from Maillard reactions during baking. While those reactions also happen during the baking process of regular bread and rolls it is greatly accelerated by the high pH that the lye treatment provides.

    Food grade lye can be found for sale on the internet and local specialty stores may carry it as well. The lye solution should have a strength of 3-4 % by weight. This means you add 30-40 g (1-1.2 oz) to 1 liter or quart of warm water. I found that 0.5 liter ( 1 pint) of lye solution to be a sufficient amount. Always add the lye to water and not the other way around. When lye is dissolved in water heat is created and adding water to lye can cause a rather sudden release of heat and possibly an eruption of concentrated lye solution.

    A much safer alternative (boo!!!) to lye is the use of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). Though the Brezels and rolls won't have the same sheen compared to those prepared with lye is is a sissy option for those who want to avoid using lye or try baking Brezels without having to buy lye. I have made a few batches of Brezels and rolls using this boiling baking soda solution and they came out tasting at least fairly similar. Prepare a 3-4% baking soda solution (30-40 g /1- 1.2 oz baking soda per liter or quart of water) and bring it to a boil. Submerse the formed Brezels and/or rolls in it and keep it in there for 30 seconds. Then follow the rest of the instructions.


    12 - Place the risen Brezels and rolls into the lye (or boiling baking soda) solution. If you are using lye getting the Brezels covered with lye is sufficient. When using baking soda, keep the Brezel in the solution for 30s, Place the treated Brezels onto parchment paper, sprinkle with coarse salt and cut the dough where you want it to open up during baking.

    13 - Bake them in a 375 F oven until the desired color is reached. It generally takes about 15-20 min

    14 - Let them cool a bit and enjoy. I generally make an assortment of Brezels, rolls and sticks intending to enjoy them over several days, they never seem to make it past the first day before they are all gone.
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    Jesus didn't wear pants
  • frydogbrewsfrydogbrews
    Posts: 44,679
    i may just do this today. been wanting to make some pretzels. i only have lye here for soap making though, i doubt it is food grade. probably go the sissy option this time.
  • scoobscoob
    Posts: 16,617
    Do it!

    You are gonna love em!
    Jesus didn't wear pants
  • BenSBenS
    Posts: 6,248
    Man, I want to make these also.
    There's no starting point. It's just a massive sea of shit to wade through until you find the occasional corn kernel. -DrCurly
  • ThymThym
    Posts: 102,386
    whats the difference between food grade and 'regular' lye?
    The only thing between me and a train wreck is blind luck..... - Kenny
  • C_BC_B
    Posts: 77,088
    Yummy
    "On it. I hate software." ~Cpt Snarklepants
  • FuzzyFuzzy
    Posts: 46,605
    Lakewood said:

    whats the difference between food grade and 'regular' lye?



    the purity. Either lye should be something like 99.97% sodium hydroxide or higher, but it's what makes up the .03% that makes it food grade or potentially poisonous.
    "Oh, you were serious? I was drunk."-C_B
  • FuzzyFuzzy
    Posts: 46,605
    I've made these a bunch of times and i'll just say that

    1-try and use the dme, it's much better than table sugar.

    2-there is a world of difference between what you'll get from using lye and what you'll get from baking soda. it'll still be edible and tasty, but not nearly as good.
    "Oh, you were serious? I was drunk."-C_B
  • frydogbrewsfrydogbrews
    Posts: 44,679
    didn't make it. made regular bread instead. i want to get some food grade lye to do this (or that's what i told myself as i played black ops II instead of making this)
  • scoobscoob
    Posts: 16,617

    I've made these a bunch of times and i'll just say that

    1-try and use the dme, it's much better than table sugar.

    2-there is a world of difference between what you'll get from using lye and what you'll get from baking soda. it'll still be edible and tasty, but not nearly as good.



    This is very true, on both accounts.
    Jesus didn't wear pants