By: Bread Festival Bakers
From Bianka & Tracy Kay, Bread Festival 2019
No one knows the true history of soft German pretzels, but we do know the dark color and crispy exterior come from dipping the pretzel dough in a lye solution before baking. Lye was once a common household item used for cleaning and food preparation–one of the main ingredients for lutefisk, even! Nowadays, you can purchase lye online or substitute baking soda at the same amount, however, baking soda won’t give you the same classic texture.
- 454 grams water
- 12 grams yeast
- 18 grams malted barley powder or syrup
- 862 grams heritage flour from Sunrise Flour Mill
- 20 grams sea salt
- Lye solution: 15 grams lye in 500mL water (see note above)
- Kosher salt
Whisk the water, yeast and malted barley until yeast is dissolved and bubbly. Mix in half the flour until well combined. The consistency should be like a thick pancake batter. Add the remaining flour and, at the end, the salt.
Knead dough until smooth. Cut into 12 equal pieces and roll each piece out to approximately 24 inches long. Shape into pretzel form and place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let rise at room temperature for one hour, then put in the refrigerator to slow rise for one more hour.
After the rise, dip pretzels in the lye solution for 3-5 seconds and place on a baking sheet.
Add salt to pretzels you plan to eat right away then bake at 425 for 11-13 minutes or until desired browning is reached. Leave unsalted any pretzels you do not intend to immediately eat. Freeze them and later thaw and reheat at 350 degrees for 6-9 minutes. Rub a little water on the pretzels and salt before reheating.
Bianka & Tracy’s pretzel demo at Bread Festival 2019.