January 01, 2014

Homemade Chewy Pretzels (with Lye water bath)

You can see the pretzel salt on the bottom pretzel.  The top pretzel is made with a light sprinkle of table salt.

I couldn't get homemade pretzels out of my head today so this afternoon I gave in and made them.  YUM!  A nice thin crisp outside but completely chewy and delicious on the inside.  Sometimes I make my pretzels with a baking soda water bath but since I started to make homemade soap last year I always have lye on hand.  I will tell you this;  a lye water bath dip is so much better than a baking soda water dip!  It gives it the perfect texture - just like I bought my pretzel at a restaurant or fast food establishment.  If you don't have lye you can order it or buy it at your local hardware store or grocery store.  If you prefer not to use it, then you would use about 5 cups water to 1/3 cup baking soda and bring to a boil on the stove.  Turn off.  Dip pretzels for 30 seconds before transferring to the baking sheet as directed below.

Homemade Pretzels

12 oz. warm water
1 T sugar
2 t salt
1 package active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups
1/2 stick butter, melted
Vegetable oil or butter
4 cups water
1 oz. food grade lye crystals
Pretzel salt or coarse Kosher salt

Combine the water, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Mix or blend briefly.  Let sit for 5 minutes or until bubbly and foamy.  Add the flour and melted butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined then on medium approximately 4 minutes until it forms a nice elastic ball.  Use butter or vegetable oil to cover the bowl and the dough and return the dough to the bowl, letting rise until dough has doubled in size.   Depending on how warm or cold your home is, you may need to cover with plastic wrap and wait up to 40-50 minutes or it could double within 15-20 minutes.  When doubled in size, punch down to release the air.

Turn the dough out onto parchment paper or a lightly oiled work surface.  Start dividing your dough into half, then each into half again and each of those into half until you have about 12-16 pieces of dough.  Roll out each piece of dough into a long, thin rope about 18-20 inches long.  Criss-cross the ends of the rope over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel.
Place the pans in the freezer for 10-30 minutes.  In the meantime, prepare your lye water bath and pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.
In a ceramic, glass or non-reactive bowl, place 4 cups water.  Measure out 1 oz. lye and slowly and carefully add to the water.  Never add water to the lye as it gets too hot, too quickly.  If you are uncomfortable working with lye and think you might splatter or stir or dump too quickly, wear gloves and eye protectors. 

Carefully place the pretzels one at a time into the lye bath.  Do not put your fingers in the water and only use a slotted, non reactive spoon to remove.  Dip each pretzel for 30 seconds and place on parchment sheet covered baking sheets.  Sprinkle with pretzel salt (the large, kosher, coarse style) and bake approximately 15-22 minutes until golden brown and done.

Letting the dough raise

Any lye will do, but I use food grade lye in both my soap making and baking so I always have it on hand.

A simple water bath to dip the pretzels before baking

Starting to roll out the dough

Shape the dough, dip, sprinkle and bake

You might also be interested in:
Pretzel Salt, 1 lb. by Barry Farm
Food Grade Sodium Hydroxide Lye Micro Beads, 2 Lbs.
Hoosier Hill Farm Coarse Pretzel Salt, 2 lbs

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