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Making Bavarian Brezeln (Pretzels)

September 10th, 2009 2 comments

I love Brezeln. I could eat them every day and never get tired of them. Sadly they are hard to find here in NorCal, the ones sold at the mall pretzel places have nothing but the form in common with a real Laugenbrezel. So I decided to make them myself earlier this year. I posted this originally on eGullet, but since they were so good I will post it here too

First the recipe I used:
1package active dry yeast
warm water 350ml
brown sugar 1/3 cup (note, recipe says 1/3 cup or 80gr, but 80gr looked like a lot and did not fit in my 1/3 cup so I went with the smaller amount)
flour 520gr

4 quarts water
2Tsp lye (from certifiedlye.com)

I put the yeast, flour, sugar all together and then added the warm water, made the dough. Does not need to rise but probably did for 30min or so in the end. I did not see a difference between the first and last Brezeln, so the rise does not seem to have much effect.

I did not know if these will rise much in the oven, so I made them rather small compared to what you get in Germany (about hand size). They did not grow much, next time I’ll make them larger.

You roll the dough into a long sausage, then cut off pieces and form a long about thumb thick sausage. You make a loop, cross the ends over and fold them back on the loop. Easier to see in pictures (which I did not take but can be found in many books).

You add the lye to the water (never the other way around!) and heat it up to just boiling, then reduce heat a bit to keep it just very hot. Submerge each Brezel for some 30 or so seconds until they float and turn a light yellow. They might stick to the bottom of the pot, I found it best to sink them in with a spatula and then jiggle them a bit around so they did not make contact with the bottom of the pot.

I just put them on the baking sheet with salted parchment paper after I let most of the bath run off. (I later discarded the paper, it got all wobbly and brown after the 2nd batch. You must make sure though, that your sheet is non-reactive and especially not made of aluminum as lye will dissolve it) Sprinkle with some coarse salt (the larger the grains the better) and if you like with some seeds like anise or cumin. I baked them for about 10 min at 475 until they had a nice brown crust.

Here they are in all their glory:

Homemade Bavarian Brezeln

Homemade Bavarian Brezeln

Brezeln, crust and crumb

Brezeln, crust and crumb

They smelled and tasted absolutely authentic and I will make them again soon, the kids love them :-)

You can store these in a bag but they will turn a bit gummy, put them back in the oven the next day to get them nice and crunchy again. If you have left overs….
I sometimes spray them with some water and sprinkle some more salt on too, since most of the salt on there tends to dissolve over night.

Next recipe will be an adaption from a German book, once I can figure out if the 40gr of yeast are correct, as it seems like a lot for 600gr of flour?

Just to add, making the lye bath is little trouble, but you have to be careful. I wold recommend to use gloves and maybe even goggles. I wear glasses anyway and I passed on the gloves as I used a long slotted spatula and slotted spoon, but if you get this stuff on your skin it will burn you. I’m actually not sure if the solution would be strong enough to do so, but the pure lye definitely has to be handled with care. The recipe I used actually does not use lye, but 2Tsp of baking soda per each cup of water used (and you need enough to really have the Brezel float around). I went for the real thing and don’t really see it as much of a hassle at all, but the baking soda is an option if you rather don’t have hot corrosive liquids around. As long as you keep Aluminum far away and handle things somewhat careful you should be fine. certifiedlye.com has lots of info on their site, add some common sense and get baking! And with lye you can make some nice soap too if you want :-)

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