The deep dark brown burnished crispy crunchy exterior contrasted with the soft and chewy interior that is full of salty pretzel goodness. Nothing can beat a still warm Bavarian Pretzel slathered with butter served with an ice-cold beer to celebrate the start of the 184th Munich Oktoberfest (09/16/17 – 10/03/17)
Traditional German Soft Pretzels are known as Brezel in Germany. The twisted and crossed shape is called Laugenbrezel while the mini baguette shape is known as Laugenstangen. The warm bezel is intended to be slathered with rich creamy butter and enjoyed with a tall glass of cold liquid gold beer!
The key ingredients to making Traditional Bavarian Pretzels:
- Barley Malt Syrup – used to make beer. Barley Malt syrup provides a subtle flavor in the pretzel that cannot be replicated with another sweetener. Lucky you can find barley malt syrup at your local beer brewing store, organic market, or online at Amazon. http://amzn.to/2wskANX
- Lard – This traditional fat is used to tenderize the crumb structure and adds its porky flavor to the mix. Use leaf lard if possible. Butter can be substituted for the lard if so desired.
- Sodium Hydroxide (Pure Food Grade Lye) – Traditional Bavarian Pretzels known as Laugerbrezel in Germany are required to be dipped in a 4% lye solution in order to be sold as Laugerbrezels. The pretzels are dipped in the lye solution prior to baking. The Sodium Hydroxide provides the chemical reaction producing the deep dark brown color and the traditional flavor we think of as “pretzel flavor.” The lye neutralizes through the heat of baking. Know that lye reacts with carbon dioxide from the heat in the oven and forms a carbonate making it safe to eat. Follow the amount for the lye solution weight exactly as written on the recipe to make a 4% lye solution. Sodium Hydroxide can be ordered and shipped through Amazon. Here is the link to order: https://amzn.to/3pfyb8d
It’s a Chemical Reaction! Safety First! The lye is caustic so make sure you are wearing rubber gloves and working in a well-ventilated room when handling and mixing the solution. You might want to wear safety glasses and a nose/mouth mask as well as the lye gives off heat and gases when combined with water. Use only glass or stainless steel pieces of equipment when mixing the lye. Dispose of the lye down your sink drain followed by cold water. This will clean your drain also. (Read and follow all the instructions for handling and storing the lye from the manufacturer.)
Put some muscle into it! The dough for Bavarian Pretzel is a 52% hydration making for a very stiff dough when kneading. It is important to knead the dough well to fully combine the dry ingredients into the dough. Take breaks if necessary but be sure to wrap the dough in plastic wrap or a plastic bag to ensure it doesn’t dry out.
As with all baking recipes I recommend you weigh the ingredients for the Bavarian Pretzels. Weighing ensures you have consistent dough each and every time. As a baker, we are always striving to remove any variables from the process of baking.
The full instructional video for Bavarian Pretzels is at the bottom of this blog post. Follow this link to “LIKE” and “SUBSCRIBE” to my YouTube Channel “Just One Bite, Please?”
- Glass Mixing Bowls
- Measuring Cups & Spoons/Electronic Bakers Scale
- Wooden Mixing Spoon or Stiff Rubber Spatula
- Plastic Bowl Scrape
- Metal Bench Knife
- 2 each ½-Sheet Parchment Paper
- 2 each ½-Sheet Baking Tray
- 2 each ½-Sheet Cooling Rack
- Non-Stick Oil Spray or Oil
- Measured Grams Ingredients
- 2 cups 454 g. Water (room temperature)
- 4 tsp. 12 g. Instant Yeast
- 1 Tbsp. 18 g. Barley Malt
- 2 Tbsp. 27 g. Lard (or butter)
- 5-¾ cups 862 g. Bread Flour (unbleached, unbromated)
- 1 Tbsp. 20 g. Sea Salt (fine)
Mixing & Pre-Shaping the Dough:
- In a large mixing bowl add the water, instant yeast, barley malt, lard, and half of the bread flour and stir and beat together to make a thick batter.
- Add the salt to the batter and beat to incorporate and then add the remaining flour and mix until the mixture becomes a shaggy mass.
- Scrape the dough and any dry bits out onto the counter and knead the dry ingredients into the dough. (Note: The dough will be very firm. Use your body weight to knead the dough.)
- Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes or until smooth.
- Form the dough into a tight round.
- Roll and shape the dough into a 12-inch log (30 cm) and cut the dough into 12 equal-sized pieces weighing approximately 115 grams.
- Form each piece of dough into a tight round and cover with plastic wrap. Rest the rounded pieces of dough for 5 minutes.
- Place the cooling rack onto the parchment-lined sheet trays and spray the cooling rack with non-stick oil spray.
Shaping the Pretzels:
- 6 Pretzel Baguette: Work with one piece of dough at a time. With the seam side up, degas the rested dough pieces and tightly roll into a cylinder.
- Firmly roll the cylinder into a 7-inch (18 cm) baguette with tapered ends.
- Place the shaped Pretzel Baguette seam side down onto the oiled cooling rack lined sheet tray and continue to shape the remaining pieces of dough.
- 6 Traditional Bavarian Pretzel: Work with one piece of dough at a time. With the seam side up, degas the rested dough pieces and tightly roll into a cylinder.
- Cover the pre-shaped pieces of dough with plastic wrap and let rest for 5 minutes.
- Working with one piece of dough at a time. Firmly roll the dough from the center outward into a 16-inch (40 cm) rope with the same thickness throughout.
- Create a 4-inch (10 cm) thicker section (the belly) in the center of the rope by firmly rolling and shaping the rope on each side of the belly.
- Firmly roll the dough to 30-inch (76 cm) length.
- Shape the rope of dough into the classic pretzel shape. (See video time stamp 4:23) Take care to firmly press the two arms into the dough. This will ensure the pretzel doesn’t come undone when dipping.
- Continue to shape the remaining pieces of dough.
- Place the shaped pretzels onto the oil cooling rack lined sheet tray.
- Ferment the shaped pretzels for 45 minutes uncovered at room temperature 68º-74ºF (20º-23ºC).
- After 45 minutes, place the pretzels in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. This allows a skin to form and the pretzels to firm up so they keep their shape when you dip them.
Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C) 30 minutes prior to baking the pretzels.
Dipping and Baking the Pretzels:
- Large Glass Bowl
- Rubber Gloves or Latex Gloves
- Stainless Steel Whisk
- Pretzel Salt or Coarse Sea Salt
4% Lye Solution:
- 2268 grams Water
- 94 grams Sodium Hydroxide (Food Grade Lye)
- Put on the Rubber or Latex Gloves.
- In the large glass bowl add the water. Slowly add the Sodium Hydroxide (lye) to the water while gently whisking. The lye will react with the water and release gases and heat as it dissolves. Gently whisk until the lye is completely dissolved.
- Work with one tray of pretzels at a time. Remove a tray from the refrigerator and dip the pretzels into the lye solution making sure to get wet on both sides of the pretzel.
- Place the dipped pretzel back onto the cooling rack presentation side up.
- Sprinkle the pretzels with Pretzel Salt or Coarse Sea Salt and score the belly of the traditional pretzel and score the baguette pretzel down the center 3 times.
- Bake the pretzels at 425°F (218°C) for 22 to 24 minutes or until deep brown.
- Remove the pretzels from the oven and cool for 15 minutes before eating.
- Slather the warm pretzels with butter and pour yourself a tall cold beer.
Note: The pretzels are best enjoyed the same day they are made. If you have pretzels leftover store them in a paper bag. Day-old pretzels can be refreshed in an oven preheated to 375°F, bake for 6 to 8 minutes.