I really love pretzels. There is something in the shape that completely infatuates me. The differences in texture due to variations in thickness of the dough is just SO cool! For awhile I used to boil them before baking the pretzel similarly as we do to bagels, simply because I was too scared to use Lye powder. And the result wasn't cutting it for me.
Dipping the pretzels in a lye bath before baking is what gives them their characteristically shiny, mahogany-colored shell. When using lye, you must wear gloves to protect yourself. Recently, I mustered up the courage and attempted to make pretzels using the lye bath. Simply? I was MIND BLOWN how this simple step changed the pretzels. The color, the texture and the taste were beyond perfect. I’m extremely happy and proud to share them with you!
500 gr flour
250 gr water
25 gr soft butter
10 gr salt
10 gr dry yeast
1 tablespoon dates honey or barley malt syrup
For the Lye bath:
50 gr lye powder (food grade sodium hydroxide)
- In a bowl add the water, yeast, dates honey, and mix well.
- Add the flour, butter, salt, and mix well until all the ingredients have been incorporated into the dough. Then, keep kneading on a working surface for 10-12 minutes until you get a smooth and elastic dough.
- Round the dough into a tight ball and place in an oiled bowl, covered with a towel, until doubled in size.
- Deflate the dough and divide it into 120 gr pieces. Round each piece into a tight ball and let them rest, covered with a towel, for about 20 min.
- Open each ball into a long strand, leaving the center of the strand thicker than the edges.
- Cross the edges twice and stick them to the sides of the thick part of the strand.
- Place on an oiled parchment paper and let them rest, covered with a towel, for 30 min.
- Then transfer the shaped pretzels to the fridge for at least 1h (you can let them rest in the fridge overnight).
- When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400F or 200C.
- Prepare a lye bath: WEAR GLOVES!!! lye powder can be very dangerous if getting into direct contact with your skin.
In a bowl mix the lye powder and the water until the lye have completely dissolved in the water.
- Dip each pretzel in the lye bath for 10-15 sec on each side, drain and place gently on a baking tray.
- Sprinkle salt on the thick part of the pretzels and score a nice cut.
- Bake for 10-14 min, until you achieve a dark mahogany-colored crust.
- Enjoy while hot with some spicy mustard.