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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23 thoughts on “Bavarian Pretzels

  1. Hermann Otto Göhrt

    Hallo.

    you mention they are best eaten on the day which is true. but i know laugenbrezel & Laugenstangen can last upto 2 weeks. does your recipe allow you to do this or not?

    danke

    Hermann

    1. Alejandro Ramon

      Hello Hermann, You can definintly let the pretzels slow dry in a low temperature in the oven and the pretzels will last a long time. The other suggestion is to not salt the pretzels before baking and then to freeze them once they are baked. If you want a fresh pretzel you’ll take out the pretzel out of the freezer and thaw, brush with water and sprikle with coarse salt and rebake for 2 to 3 minutes. You’ll have a warm pretzel straight from your oven to enjoy with your favorite beverage.

  2. Dain Sansome

    Hi Alejandro, simply amazing! With my busy life and family I gave up baking a long time ago but I used to do a lot in high school. I’m loving it once again because I recollected the memories of living for/on pretzels in Germany in my 20s. I watched your excellent video and have been making your pretzels for a little bit and they’re turning out nicely. So many fond memories of Germany come flooding back and I share them both with all my friends. Thank you so much for your contribution. One question I’m curious what mixer you prefer or do you do everything by hand? Dain

    1. Alejandro Ramon

      Hello Dain, It is nice to meet you! I appreciate you taking time to share your thoughts and memories of the Bavarian Pretzel recipe. My goal is to encourage and inspire folks like yourself to start or come back to cooking and baking. Sharing the food you make with your friends and family is great! I’m sure they really appreciate you for that.
      I typically make all the bread recipes by hand due to the fact not everyone has, wants, or can afford a stand mixer. The Classic White Bread recipe on my website was sponsored by Litchi where I used their stand mixer in the video as part of the agreement for their sponsoring my YouTube channel. Hand mixing and kneading can teach us so much more about each dough and how to handle it. This helps to build knowledge and confidence when making yeasted breads and other baked goods. If you ever would like to share pictures of your baking adventures you can email me at: justonebiteplease@hotmail.com
      Thank you again for writing and please let me know if you have any other questions.
      Happy Baking,
      Alejandro

  3. John

    Hi Alejandro. Thank you for the video. I’m recovering from aggressive chemo and find baking therapeutic and helpful for a nerve condition caused by the Leukemia treatment. Since finding your videos and the kind way that you respond to your online “students” you are now my “mentor”.

    Here is my question: I wish to use baking soda and understand that it needs to boil to initiate the chemical reaction. What is the water to baking soda ratio, and should it be cooled before dipping the shaped dough?

    Thank you, and God bless.

    John

    1. Alejandro Ramon

      Hello John, It is so nice to meet you. I appreciate you for sharing how baking has become a therapeutic baking endeavor for you. I’m glad to know you found the videos and instruction helpful. I wish you the best with your Leukemia treatment.

      Here is the recipe for the optimal baking soda solution.

      Note: Even though the baking soda isn’t as caustic as Food Grade Lye I recommend using latex gloves and stainless steel baking tools/slotted spoon when handling the dipped pretzels.

      8 cups Water
      3/4 cup Baking Soda

      1. Place the water and baking soda into a large stainless steel pot and stir together to dissolve the baking soda.
      2. Place the pot onto medium-high heat and bring to a full boil.
      3. Adjust the heat for a light boil and boil the solution for at least 15-20 minutes before dipping the pretzels. (The heating of the baking soda help to chemically increase the alkaline level, producing a deeper burnished brown color when baked)
      4. Dip the refrigerated pretzels into the lightly boiling solution for 20 seconds on each side.
      5. Carefully lift out using a large slotted skimmer and continue with the recipe for salting, scoring, and baking the pretzels.

      Please let me know if you have any other question. Thank you for taking time to send your message and question.

      Happy Baking,

      Alejandro Ramon, Just One Bite, Please?

      1. John

        Thankyou Alejandro,

        I do have a couple of questions. If i wished to make a smaller pretzel, i.e. 25 grams, would the baking time be reduced and if so, by how much time? Also, I’ve read about baking the baking powder, would this be helpful and how might it be helpful?

        1. Alejandro Ramon

          Hi John, The smaller sized pretzels will take about 16 to 18 minutes or less. I would recommend checking the color after 8 minutes and rotate as needed.
          Yes, you can increase the alkaline of the baking soda by baking it. It can help develop even more reaction with the surface of the pretzel to create deeper caramelization and the traditional pretzel flavor. Here is a link to a New York Times article with the complete instructions: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/15/dining/15curious.html
          They suggest a different concentration for the dipping solution. I’d love to hear what process you end up using and the results you achieved in your final pretzels.

  4. Vladimir Uzunov

    Thanks for the great video and recipee!
    In the most of the other pretzel making videos, the presenters boil the Lye (baking soda) water before dipping the pretzels. Does it really matter if the water is boiled?

    Thanks a lot.

    1. Alejandro Ramon

      Hello Vladimir,

      Sodium Hydroxide (Food Grade Lye) should “NOT BE BOILED.” (Read and follow all the instructions for handling and storing the lye from the manufacturer.)

      On the other hand if you use Baking Soda you’ll need to boil the baking soda/water solution in order to complete the chemical reaction in order to get the flavor and deep brown color when baking the pretzels.

      Please let me know if you have any other questions.

  5. Diane Zahm

    Oh my. Brings back such memories from class! I have a few lye stains on my island work surface . . . The video is great, but in person was even better.

    1. Alejandro Ramon

      Hi Diane, I’m glad you like the video. Thank you for taking time to leave your comment. Have a great day!

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