I love pretzels. i remember going to Pennsylvania to see them made.
There was something about that taste that seemed out of reach. I could never duplicate it until I tried a true Bavarian recipe. That means using food grade Sodium Hydroxide or what you may know as LYE.....
The faint hearted should hit the back button now but know that the great Pretzel taste is possible.....
Step 1: Making the Dough
I use a slightly modified version of Alton Brown's pretzel recipe.
The dough ingredients are:
- 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F)
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
The dip ingredients are:
- 10 cups water
- 1/2 cup food grade Sodium Hydroxide
- Celtic Sea salt
Mix the water, sugar, salt, and yeast in the bowl of your mixer. After about 20 minutes it should foam up. If it doesn't your yeast was dead so start over....
If its nice and foamy put the bowl on the mixer with a dough hook and set it on low. Keep adding the flour until it comes together into a ball.
Turn that out onto a board and flour it so you can knead it a couple of times. it doesn't need much....
Set it aside and let it rise. Don't fall asleep or you may come back to a mushroom cloud.
if you do beat it down and divide it up so you can move on.
Step 2: The Dip
just like in Roger Rabbit this is nasty stuff. Wear Gloves and Eye protection.
Goggles are a buck or two and really are needed.....
if you get some on your fingers it may feel soapy. Well that your skin melting. The liquid is NOT soapy. It take about 10 minutes before it will hurt...
Just flush with plenty of water.
Only use a pyrex Glass or Stainless pot. NEVER Aluminum. That will make Hydrogen Gas.... Not what you want in your kitchen....
I use an all Stainless Steel Spider too.
Add the 10 cups to the pot FIRST. Then add the Sodium Hydroxide SLOWLY. It makes a lot of heat and if you do it in the reverse direction by adding water to the powder it will flash into steam...
You should use steel pans too.
I use aluminum sheet pans lined with Parchment paper. In 6 batches of Pretzels I had 2 drops hit the pan and it left these permanent marks....
Step 3: Nuggets
These are easy. Just roll out a 1 1/2 inch diameter log and slice it up with a pastry scraper.
i then use the Spider to dip them for a couple of seconds. Really just lower them to the bottom then raise them out and transfer them to the parchment lined baking sheets. they will turn yellow in a few seconds. thats normal....
I keep the spider in the pot and the pot touching the sheet tray so theres little chance of dripping on my counter.
Once dipped I top with Celtic Sea Salt and then bake in a 450 oven until golden brown. usually about 10 - 12 minutes.
you can use an egg wash but its not needed. the dip will give them the color.
Step 4: Pretzels
You start the same way rolling the dough into a 1 inch round log. Then twist into a pretzel.
I also like to braid three strips into a loaf.
I've even tried little buns. No pictures because they were that good....
Dip like the others then salt to taste.....
see the pic of a dipped vs undipped to see the difference in color a couple of seconds makes.
Step 5: Eating
Your reward is here.
That great authentic Bavarian pretzel taste is yours.
You could dip in Mustard but you really don't need it....
I use up my empty take out containers to make individual portions for people. That way I might get some for myself.....