Bavarian Pretzels

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 are called Laugenbrezel while the mini baguette shape are 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:

  • Eden Organic Barley Malt SyrupBarley 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: http://amzn.to/2jrV6ih

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 of 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 recipe I recommend you weigh the ingredients for the Bavarian Pretzels. Weighing ensures you have a 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?”

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Equipment: (Shop my Amazon Page for Ingredients & Equipment)

Bavarian Pretzel 

  • 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:

  1. 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.  
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)
  4. Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes or until smooth.
  5. Form the dough into a tight round.
  6. 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.
  7. Form each piece of dough into a tight round and cover with plastic wrap. Rest the rounded pieces of dough for 5 minutes.
  8. Place the cooling rack onto the parchment lined sheet trays and spray the cooling rack with non-stick oil spray.

Shaping the Pretzels:

  1. 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.
  2. Firmly roll the cylinder into a 7-inch (18 cm) baguette with tapered ends.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Cover the pre-shaped pieces of dough with plastic wrap and let rest for 5 minutes.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Firmly roll the dough to 30-inch (76 cm) length.
  9. 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 insure the pretzel doesn’t come undone when dipping.
  10. Continue to shape the remaining pieces of dough.
  11. Place the shaped pretzels onto the oil cooling rack lined sheet tray.
  12. Ferment the shaped pretzels for 45 minutes uncovered at room temperature.
  13. 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:

Equipment 

  • 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)
  1. Put on the Rubber or Latex Gloves.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 both sides of the pretzel.
  4. Place the dipped pretzel back onto the cooling rack presentation side up.
  5. 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.
  6. Bake the pretzels at 425°F (218°C) for 22 to 24 minutes or until deep brown.
  7. Remove the pretzels from the oven and cool for 15 minutes before eating.
  8. Slather the warm pretzels with butter and pour yourself a tall cold beer.
  9. Enjoy!

Note: The pretzels are best enjoyed the same day they are made. If you have pretzels left over store in a paper bag. Day old pretzels can be refreshed in a oven preheated to 375°F, bake for 6 to 8 minutes.

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53 thoughts on “Bavarian Pretzels

  1. pizzicatto2015

    I used your recipe Alejandro and baked your BAVARIAN PRETZELS and my husband, me and his friend and I were amazed on how great it is! It is excellent. The chewiness, the flavor and aroma….brings back memories of my trip to Europe and decades ago. Recently, my husband and I were in Bavaria two years ago and we were raving about their pretzel. Now I can do it! I didn’t have the lye when I did it but it still worked with baked baking soda and hot water plus egg yolks. It was a lot of work! So, I ordered the lye and malt syrup at Amazon! I am making it again tonite and this time, I shaped it into a torpedo like the 7″ baguette in your vdo file. My first time with your recipe, I shaped it into the typical pretzel shape. But I think I’d like the baguette shaped ones because I can have more pretzels to chew on! Thank you for the thorough explanation on your video and website feature. And for your generosity in sharing your talents and creativity! You are a good teacher because you are able to simplify it. More power to you!

    Question: How do I make my pretzel to be shiny? Should I brush it melted butter after taking it out from the oven? Thank you again!

    1. Alejandro Ramon

      Hello pizzicatto2015, It is so nice to meet you. Congratulations on your baking success making the pretzels. I so appreciate you taking the time to share your experience making the recipe. It is wonderful to hear how they compared to what you had during your time in Europe and Bavaria. Dipping the pretzels in the lye solution will result in the crust baking to a deep burnished brown color with a nice shine. Thank you for your kind words of support for my work. Have a wonderful day! 🥨🍺😊🇩🇪

  2. photoguy57

    Hi, was the original recipe in U.S. imperial measurement system or metric? I realize that there’s always some differences in converting from metric to imperial, 5 3/4 cups of Bread Flour is actually 828 – 830 grams. US All purpose flour, Bread Flour, Cake Flour etc are not equal in weight cup for cup. The differences in recipes may make a difference. I’m just wondering.. I have no problem adjusting the amount of fluid while making the pretzels. I thought perhaps someone may have some difficulty if the followed the recipe exactly as written and decided to go with imperial rather than metric… or the other way around..
    Thanks

    1. Alejandro Ramon

      Hello photoguy57, All my baking recipes use gram weight measurement for accuracy. The recipes can be scaled up or down and the bakers’ percentages all remain the same. I only include volume measurements for those who don’t have a scale. I have found the manufactures of the volume measuring are not uniform in the industry creating a lot of variation between the tools. This is why I have this message with all my baking recipes:

      As with all baking recipes I recommend you weigh the ingredients for the baked good. Weighing ensures you have a consistent dough each and every time. As bakers, we are always striving to remove any variables from the process of baking.

      Thank you for taking the time to write. Cheers!

      1. photoguy57

        Thanks so much for responding Sir. I noticed in your video while making the Pretzel Baguettes I did not see that you allowed them to rise, however when the pretzels were made the recipe states “Ferment the shaped pretzels for 45 minutes uncovered at room temperature.” Is there a reason why the baguettes are not allowed to rise as the pretzels are? Thanks.

        1. Alejandro Ramon

          Hello photoguy57, Here is the link to the video where I show both pretzel shapes are on the sprayed wire racks and the copy says to “Ferment the pretzels uncovered for 45 minutes.” https://youtu.be/uvC1Bq98uuY?t=343
          Thank you for writing and asking about this. This will help others who might be wondering the same thing.

      2. photoguy57

        Hello Sir, just wanted you to know that I’ve successfully made these pretzels 3 times since my original message to you. My wife absolutely loves the baguettes. I lost count of how many times I’ve tried other recipes. Not that they were bad… both your video and recipe is simply the best. Thank you again for responding to me and for this awesome recipe. Looking forward to following other recipes you’ve shared.

        1. Alejandro Ramon

          Hello photoguy57, Congratulations on your baking success! It is wonderful to hear about your results. I’m sure your wife appreciates you baking the style of pretzels she likes. I’m happy that you like the final results the recipe produces. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your baking experience and for your kind words for my work. Have a great day!

  3. Selloncl Abq

    This is a very good recipe if followed. One thought on recipe, buy yourself some pretzel salt, it’s worth it for the aesthetics and flavor. You can control the amount of salt sprinkled on dough much better.

    After reading comments, I have a little input to a few comments/questions.

    1. Baking soda WILL NOT give you the same results as lye. To be blunt, pretzels dipped in baking soda (insert word that rhymes with puck). There is no comparison.

    2. You do not need to use a rack in your sheet pan. Use a non-stick sheet pan liner. Something like the following…
    Chef’s Planet Universal Non Stick 40 Inch by 12 Inch Bake Liner

    3. Portion your dough, wrap in plastic wrap, place in freezer bag and freeze. You can then pull out however many pretzels you want to make, defrost and proceed per recipe. I pull dough in morning, thaw, shape, rest overnight in fridge, dip and bake. Perfect every time.

    Like I said at beginning of comment, This is a very good recipe.

    1. Alejandro Ramon

      Hello Selloncl, It is my pleasure to meet you. I appreciate you sharing your ideas and baking experience for making the Pretzels. This is what the Just One Bite, Please? community is about. You’ll inspire others to venture into trying the recipe for themselves. Thank you for taking the time to write. Have a great day!

  4. Pingback: Bavarian Prezels… Brezen | Ravings of a Fatman

    1. Alejandro Ramon

      Hello Tim,
      Congratulations on your baking success with making the Pretzels. I appreciate you sharing the recipe on your website. The smile on your family member’s face says it all. 🥨🍺🇩🇪🥰
      Thank you,
      Alejandro Ramon, Just One Bite, Please?

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