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Soap Making Forum > Recipe & Tutorials Forum > Food & Spirit Recipes > Lye-Dipped Pretzels (Laugenbretzel)
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Old 10-02-2014, 02:34 AM   #1
IrishLass
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Default Lye-Dipped Pretzels (Laugenbretzel)

....or rather, the other thing (besides making soap) that I like to make with my lye. lol

I don't now if any of y'all are bread-makers or not, but one of my other passions (besides soap-making) is making bread, and as an avid bread-maker I've made soft, chewy pretzels several times (using the baking soda-dip method), and I was always happy enough with them at the time, but last year marked the first time that I ever tried making them the old-world, traditional way...... dipped in a lye solution.........and wow- what a huge night/day difference that made in flavor! Not to brag or anything (okay, well, maybe just a little ), but they truly were/are the most awesome, authentically-tasting pretzels to ever come out of my oven!

The inspiration for me gaining the courage to try my hand making them the traditional way came from this blog by a guy named Marco in Seattle:

http://marcofrom.com/archives/2008/0...l_vs_pret.html

What I really appreciate about Marco's recipe and method in his blog is how all the ingredients are written out in gram weights, and it also has very good reviews underneath the recipe from those who had actually tried it.

But of course, as with soap-making, I also tend to tweak things around to my own personal liking when it comes to bread-making, so here is what I do differently (compared to Marco's instructions in the above link):

1 day ahead (in the evening) I make a poolish or pre-ferment (what Marco calls a 'Pate Fermente'). It consists of:

-144g of my special All-Purpose flour/Whole Wheat flour blend* (see down below at the end of post) [this is used in place of of Marco's 'White Flour']

-94g spring water

-2.6g sea salt

-1 pinch active dry yeast (about 1/16 teaspoon)

-1 tbsp (17g) of my rye sourdough starter (purely for an added boost of flavor)

In a small earthenware bowl, I whisk the water, yeast, and my rye sourdough starter together until a little frothy. Then I stir the flour and salt into the mixture until all is absorbed and mixed in real well before covering with plastic wrap and setting on my counter overnight to do its thing. (I usually just let it sit there and stew for 16 hours or so).

I also make my lye solution 1 day ahead using Marco's lye:water ratio, which is a 3.84% lye solution according to RiverCitySoap's DWCP calculator, by the way. Looking around the net, I saw people using anywhere from as little as 1% to all the way up to 5%, so this particular % is a pretty good average. You can re-use the lye-solution, by the way, so don't throw it out after the first time you make pretzels with it. Many say that it can be re-used up to 10 times, but I've only used mine as many as 3 times before it starts looking too gunky for me to want to use again. Lye solution:

1250g/44 oz distilled water
50g/1.76 oz food grade lye

I make this in the same manner that I make lye solution for soaping, i.e., gloves/goggles, etc. When cool, I pour into an HPDE container with a tight fitting lid.



The next day (about 16 hours later), I make the main dough (what Marco calls the 'real dough'). My 'real dough' ingredients:

-555g of my special All-Purpose/Whole Wheat flour blend* (see way down below at the very end of this tutorial)

-23g vital wheat gluten

(the above 2 ingredients make up the equivalent of Marco's 578g of 'White Flour')

-340g spring water

-12g sea salt

-8g active dry yeast (2.5 tsp)

-36g softened butter

-12g dark brown sugar (1 tbsp. packed)

-21g barley malt syrup (1 tbsp.)

-the entire bowl of 'Pate Fermente' that I made the previous evening


Directions:

1) In a large bowl, I combine all my dry ingredients together (including the dry active yeast) and stir until combined. Set aside.

2) In a separate bowl, I combine the water & barley malt syrup and stir until the syrup is fully incorporated into the water.

3) Then, deviating a little bit from from Marco's instructions, I dump my Pate Fermente into my barley/water mixture and whisk until fairly combined (as opposed to Marco's method of adding the Pate Fermente in chunks later to the already-formed dough). I find my way to be much easier than Marco's, and it produces a much more uniform, well combined finished dough. Set aside.

4) I then make a well in my dry ingredients and dump in the softened butter, followed immediately by the water/barleysyrup/Pate Ferment mixture. Mix well with a spoon and/or my hands until all the flour is incorporated. This makes a very stiff dough at the outset, by the way (but it gets more pliable later).

5) I knead for 5 minutes on high speed with my Sunbeam MixMaster hand-held mixer fitted with the dough hooks (which is an awesome, inexpensive little kneader, by the way). If you have a different kneading machine, feel free to use that, or else knead by hand for 10 to 15 minutes. or so.

6) Form the kneaded dough into a ball, place in an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled. Mine usually takes about 45 minutes to double in my 72F kitchen. It may take longer depending on your yeast, or if your room temp is lower.

7) I then take doubled dough out of bowl and gently fold it over and over in my hands to gently deflate it, then place back in bowl to double once more. Only takes about 30 minutes for it to double for me the second time around, by the way.

Continued in the next post...........


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Old 10-02-2014, 02:49 AM   #2
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8 ) I take doubled dough out again, fold to deflate as before, weigh it on my scale and divide it into 16 equal portions.

9) Form each portion into a tight ball and place on non-stick parchment paper (covered with plastic to prevent from drying out)

10) As I roll each one into a ball, I keep track of the order in which I formed them, because I know from past experience that as soon as I am finished forming all of them, my first ball will have rested enough by that time to be easier to work with/roll out.

11) Once all the balls are formed, I take the first one I had formed and roll it into a small cylinder. 'Small', because the dough is still a little feisty at this stage and will fight any effort to roll it out any longer than that. No biggie- I just roll it out as far as it lets me before it starts shrinking back on me and place it back on the parchment while I do the same to all the other balls (remembering to keep track of the order in which I rolled each one into a small cylinder).

12) By the time all are rolled into small cylinders, the first cylinder has rested enough to roll out completely to 30" long and be shaped into a pretzel shape, which I can now do with ease.

13) Then I follow suit with all the remaining small cylinders in the order which they had been formed, setting each newly formed pretzel on parchment-lined baking sheets (stainless steel). I use 2 standard size 'cookie' sheets and place 8 pretzels on each one.

14) Cover and let pretzels rise at room temp on the counter for 20 minutes, then I uncover them and and place the pretzel-laden baking sheets in the the fridge for 30 minutes (Marco let his rise at room temp for 30-40 minutes before putting in the fridge, but since my dough normally shows itelf to be really lively and eager, I cut the room temp rising time to 20 minutes before placing in the fridge so that it doesn't over-rise).

15) While the pretzels are in the fridge (which helps to stiffen them up and and be easier to dip into the lye, by the way), I preheat my oven to 445 degreesF and position my oven racks thusly: 1 rack is in the upper middle position and the other is positioned in the spot directly below.

16) I also take this time to prep everything else: I pour my lye solution into a plastic 6-cup mixing bowl (lye-safe); I pour about 1 tbsp of kosher salt into a small prep bowl, set aside; I lay down some protective freezer paper on my workspace (shiny-side up); and I have my gloves and goggles at the ready.

17) After 30 minutes have gone by, I take my pretzel sheets out of the fridge, and working with only one pretzel at a time, I gently place each one into the lye solution to soak for 30 seconds (15 seconds on each side), lift out, gently tap off the excess lye solution, and place back on the parchment-lined baking sheets. My dough is stiff enough that I am able to do this with only a gloved hand, by the way (instead of having to use a large slotted spoon). Then with my other (free) hand I sprinkle each one with some of the kosher salt.

18 ) Once all have been dipped and salted, I bake for 16 minutes total (rotating/switching the baking sheets once from the top-positioned rack to the lower-positioned rack half-way through the baking time).

19) Once out of the oven, I remove the pretzels from the sheets and cool them on racks for about 15 minutes before beginning to eat them.

These pretzels are awesome, even if I do say so myself. The lye solution gives them that distinctive, signature 'pretzel' taste that was woefully missing in all my baking soda batches of pretzels, and also a wonderful crispy/crackly skin, while the insides are a perfect blend of soft and chewy.

*** The special flour blend that I make up and keep on hand for many kinds of bread recipes consists of 3 parts King Arthur All-Purpose Flour to 1 part King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour, with 1 tbsp. of raw wheat germ added per every cup of the All-Purpose flour. To turn it into the equivalent of what is known as 'bread flour' in the USA, I go one step further and replace 2 teaspoons of the AP flour (out of every cup of the AP flour) with an equal amount of vital wheat gluten. This boosts the protein content and causes the blend to perform more like an American bread-type flour.

These pretzels are best eaten the same day, although they're not too shabby the next day if you warm them up in the oven first (or in a toaster).

Also- right after forming them and before letting them rise the 3rd and final time on the counter and fridge, you can freeze the raw pretzels to bake at a future time. The day before you want to bake them, take them out of the freezer to thaw in the fridge overnight. The following day, about 30 minutes to an hour before you want to bake them, take them out of the fridge and set on parchment-lined baking sheets on your counter and preheat your oven to 445 degrees F. Right before baking, dip them in the lye solution, sprinkle with salt and bake 16 minutes. I've done this before with great results.

Also- you can freeze the fully-cooked and cooled pretzels by individually wrapping them tightly in plastic wrap and storing in a freezer bag in the freezer. When you have a hankering for a pretzel, take one out and put it in your toaster set on the 'frozen' setting, and in about 3 minutes or so you will be enjoying a hot pretzel that tastes just like it was freshly baked.


IrishLass


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Old 10-02-2014, 02:56 AM   #3
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Wow! Saw lye was used for pretzels on some websites, love love L O V E makin my fam some Challah Friday's, so I'm gonna have to bookmark this and check it out!
Bread is awesome....to make and eat hehe. This will be a great project. Thank you for the thoughtful and thorough post irishlass!
Eta, I use king Arthur bread flour for my Challah. So yup, totally there with you, and see the reasons behind not using bread flour for pretzels. I'm so enthused about this, Thx again!!

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Old 10-02-2014, 03:45 AM   #4
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I would be happy to be a tester to this thread. 😉
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Old 10-03-2014, 03:40 AM   #5
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Where's the pictures!
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Old 10-03-2014, 06:17 AM   #6
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As you wish!

Here's a pic of one of my shaped pretzels before rising and dipping:




Here's a pic of one of my risen pretzels being given a lye bath:




And here's a pic of one of my batches of baked pretzels (I made some mini pretzel bites in this batch):





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Old 10-03-2014, 08:43 AM   #7
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Those look delicious! And thanks so much for sharing your recipe! Last spring a local baker showed me and a few others how to make pretzels, but she used a baking soda dip. I was so disappointed! But they were pretty good so I forgave her and pledged to buy some food grade lye and try it on my own. Well, I still have hardware lye but now you're giving me great incentive to place an order!
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Old 10-03-2014, 09:48 AM   #8
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omg I'm drooling! those are BEAUTIFUL!!!! and they look delicious! now I want to get bread making again.....
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Old 10-03-2014, 10:05 AM   #9
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WOW! Those look and sound amazing. I might have to give it a try. I love to bake though haven't made bread in years. Thank you for sharing!!!
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Old 10-03-2014, 07:53 PM   #10
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A big 'you're welcome' to all of you...... now get baking! LOL

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaraBou
Last spring a local baker showed me and a few others how to make pretzels, but she used a baking soda dip. I was so disappointed! But they were pretty good so I forgave her and pledged to buy some food grade lye and try it on my own
I know what you mean. That's how I always used to make mine (with the baking soda dip). They made for some wonderful, tasty, pretzel-shaped bread alright, but they were always missing that distinctive pretzel-y taste. I've found that the lye dip makes all the difference in the world. I'll never make pretzels any other way again.

I've experimented with other shapes besides the traditional pretzel shape, too. My hubby likes me to make them into thick, braided or twisted strips (they look a bit something like those dog-chews, don't they? lol ):



Oh, I forgot to mention- if you make them into the little bite-sized chunks, bake them for only 8 minutes total (instead of 16 minutes total).

IrishLass


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