|Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)|
|Servings: 1 dozen soft pretzels|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 4g||4%|
|Saturated Fat 2g||9%|
|Total Carbohydrate 5g||2%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||3%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
Laugenbrezeln—or soft pretzels—are popular German snacks between meals.
A good German laugenbrezel is thick and soft in the middle, thin and crunchy (but not dry on the outside) and shaped into three equal loops. German bakeries also sell rolls made with this same dough, which are good with liverwurst or other aufschnitt (bologna), in the middle.
Soft pretzels are not made at home very often because the secret to their classic flavor comes from a dip in lye before baking. Lye, or caustic soda, burns skin and eyes, so gloves and safety glasses are recommended when making this recipe. This is not recommended for baking with children.
Unlike in the US, Germans eat soft pretzels with butter—not mustard or cheese sauce for dipping. But feel free to pair yours with whichever condiment you'd like.
Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this pretzel recipe is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and baking.
Make the Dough
Gather the ingredients.
Proof the yeast by dissolving it in 1/4 cup warm water and sugar for 5 minutes.
Measure the flour into a mixing bowl, add the salt, the proofed yeast, and 1 cup of warm water. Mix by hand or with a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment until flour mixture comes together into a stiff ball. Add more warm water as needed to form the dough.
Knead for 5 minutes and let rest for a few minutes.
Add the butter and knead for at least 5 more minutes or until butter is fully incorporated. At this time, the dough should be firm and velvety to the touch.
Form into a ball, butter all surfaces, and let rise until double, about 1 hour, in a warm spot.
Shape the Pretzels
Place wax paper on a baking sheet.
De-gas (punch down) the dough.
Divide it into 12 (2-ounce) pieces. Form the dough into balls.
Using very little flour, form balls into 1-foot long strands, thicker in the middle and tapering towards the ends.
Take each strand and roll out again to form 2-foot strands.
Twist into a pretzel shape, using a little water to make the ends stick to the loop. Experienced pretzel bakers can flip pretzels into shape in the air, but most people have to coax them.
Place the pretzels on the baking sheet and refrigerate for 1 hour. This dries out the surface and makes them easier to handle.
Make the Lye Solution
Make sure that you put on gloves and safety glasses.
Place 1 quart of water in a plastic or glass container, weigh 1 ounce of food grade or reagent grade sodium hydroxide into a bowl, and add slowly to the water, stirring with a plastic spoon or similar object. ALWAYS ADD THE LYE TO THE WATER, not the other way around! For scientists: The lye solution will be approximately 0.75 M NaOH (FW 39.99g/mol) or almost 3 percent w/w.
Remove pretzels from the refrigerator and dip each for 30 seconds in the lye solution.
Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a greased or parchment-paper-lined baking sheet.
Sprinkle pretzel with salt. Make a deep cut through the thick part of the pretzel horizontally with a razor blade or lame. Let pretzels rest for 15 minutes.
Heat oven to 375 F. Bake pretzels for 20 to 25 minutes or until deep golden brown.
Use Extreme Caution
Lye is caustic and a 3 percent solution is considered corrosive. Always use gloves and safety glasses. Wearing long sleeves, pants and close-toed shoes are recommended.
Wipe up spills with paper towels and dispose of immediately. Rinse with water or vinegar. Rinse all utensils and gloves with large amounts of water and wash arms and hands after working with the solution. If you feel anything burning on the skin, rewash with soap and water, rinse and dry.
Dispose of Lye Properly
Follow county and state hazardous waste regulations to dispose of the lye. This might include diluting the solution with water, neutralizing it with an acid and subsequently diluting or taking the waste to a disposal facility.
You also can keep the lye solution in a tightly closed, nonmetallic container, clearly labeled, to use again, but starting with fresh lye is the best option.