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Monday, October 6, 2014

German Pretzels

German pretzels 

For years, I have wanted to make bagels or pretzels, but I have hesitated in doing so because of the step of pre-boiling the pretzel or bagel before baking them.

In making the authentic pretzel, the formed pretzel is first dropped into boiling water with lye for a few seconds before baking.  This process gives you that deep Mahogany color!
Boiling pretzels before baking

As a child, I remember my mom making laundry bar soap from rendered fat and lye.  I still have memories of her carefully adding the lye from a small metal tin and the resulting chemical reaction.  The bubbling and fizzing sound of lye being added to the mixture was intriguing to me as a child.  There was always extreme caution and warnings from my Mom to stay far way from her and the mixture as she handled it carefully with long rubber gloves.  The resulting product was small bars of soap that she used for laundry, especially my father's work overalls for the farm.  The bar of soap was rubbed into the dirty spots and then scrubbed using a wash board!

 Based on my early childhood memories, I opted to use Baking Soda in the water when boiling the pretzels before baking.  Boiling the pretzels in an alkaline water bath for 30 seconds gives them that chewy crust and unique pretzel taste.

Before doing this recipe, I did google recipes and found that the recipes were very similar.  The liquid could be milk, water, beer or a combination of these.  I was surprised to find that egg was not used in the dough.  The recipe is a plain bread dough consisting of flour, liquid and a fat.

German  Pretzels

Here is my modified recipe.

  • 2 cups of warm water
  • 1 Tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 T  traditional dry yeast
  • 1 Teaspoon of salt
Soften the yeast in the warm water for about 10 minutes
  • 4 to 5 cups of flour
  • 2 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
Once the yeast has bubbled, add the flour slowly while mixing until the dough is mixed.  With clean hands turn the dough on to the counter to knead, add just enough flour so it doesn't stick to your hands.. In total, I used about  4 1/4 cup of flour.  

Oil your mixing bowl, place dough into the bowl and give the dough a turn so it is all covered with oil.  Cover the dough with Saran Wrap.  Let the dough rise until double.  Since it is traditional yeast, you can punch it down when double in size a few times until you are ready to make the pretzels.

Divide your dough.  I made 16 pieces or balls from this dough.  Roll out into ropes from 20 to 24 inches in length.   Twist the dough twice at the bottom of the loop, then attach the ends to the top of the loop to form a pretzel.  Let rise for  about 15 to 20 minutes.

Pretzels waiting for the water bath

While the dough is rising, bring water to boil.  I added about 1/2 cup of baking soda to the boiling water.  Each pretzel was boiled in this mixture for about 30 seconds, with the pretzel being turned half way through this step.  Preheat heat your oven to 450 degrees.

Lift the pretzel and place back on to the baking sheet.  Egg wash the pretzel before baking.  I  mixed about a Tablespoon of water into an egg yolk.  You can sprinkle coarse salt on the pretzel. 
Bake in a preheated oven of 450 for 14 to 16 minutes  once you have finished popping all of the pretzels into the boiling Alkaline water.

Golden goodness!

Enjoy with a homemade Mustard or cheesy dip!

Pretzels, Sausage and German beer!

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