Pretzels

For these baked goods it is characteristic that the shaped dough is placed in a lye solution just before they are placed into the oven. This process is where the name “Laugengebäck” (Lye rolls) came from. The most well-known form is the pretzel. Pretzel dough is usually made with light flour. Fat and sugar addition make up less than 8% of the total flour amount. 

The baked goods usually take the form of pretzels or sticks and are normally topped with coarse salt, sesame or caraway seeds. In some regions the pretzel rolls are also topped with grated cheese. 

Dough Process:

Traditional pretzel dough is made with a pre-dough. The pre-dough serves to develop flavor and the resulting bake takes on a better form. The pre-dough consists of 50% of the total flour content. 

From the mature pre-dough and the rest of the ingredients comes a cool (22-24°C) and firm (TA 150-155) dough. The fat is added only during the final third of the mixing time. This contributes to the elasticity of the dough since it is worked up after a short relaxation phase. 

Setting and Lye:

After bulk proofing the doughs need to be well set. The outer surface needs to dry in order to have stability for the lye bath and to prevent the lye from penetrating into the dough. If lye penetrates the dough there will be dark spots in the crumb so try to prevent damaging the dried surface. While the dough is still wet it can be strewn with salt or other seeds. 

The concentration of lye should be about 3%, though this varies depending on the producer. You get a nice shine if you make sure the temperature of the lye bath remains at 30°C during production. .

Baking:

Pretzels are baked without steam and with an open draft (cracked door). The baking temperature should be  220°C and the baking time should take 12 to 15 minutes. 

Recipe

Pre-dough (Pate Fermentêe)

  • 500g Wheat flour Type 700
  • 270g Water
  • 5g Yeast

DT: 25°C TA: 154 RT: 18-48 Stunden

Flour and water with the dissolved yeast is mized on slow speed into a homogenous dough- DON’T knead! Then the dough is covered and matures for 1 hour at room temperature and then is subsequently stored in the refrigerator for 17 hours (max. 48 hours).

Hauptteig:

  • 775g mature Pre-dough
  • 500g Wheat Flour Type 480 (substitute Type 700)
  • 230g Water
  •   20g Granulated Sugar
  •   22g Sea Salt
  •   15g Yeast
  •   30g Pork lard or butter (add only at the end of the kneading time)

Production

Knead all ingredients except for pork lard/butter on slow speed for 7 minutes. Then knead on fast. After the addition of the pork lard/butter the dough needs to be kneaded well. The additional mixing time should take 5 minutes. It should also be observed that the dough temperature doesn’t exceed  23-25°C.

After a 15 minute dough rest the dough is divided into 110g pieces and then loosely rolled into dough balls. Briefly allow to relax and then roll into long dough strands. These should have a thicker belly in the middle (place to score the pretzel). Form into pretzels and place on baking paper to proof. 

Once “half proofed” the pretzels should be covered, this helps the dough surface form a skin. 

In the meantime the lye should be prepared. Always mix lye with warm water/ 40°C.  “CAUTION: risk of chemical burns- always work with rubber gloves!!!”

Dip the formed and set pretzels in the lye, drain a little and then place on baking paper. While the surface is still damp, it can be sprinkled with sesame seeds, coarse salt, etc. After sprinkling the pretzel is scored with a sharp knife in the thick middle. From the scoring the pretzels go through a more controlled bake into their final form. 

The pretzels are baked at 220°C without steam. It is recommended to crack open the oven door during the first few minutes of baking since the pretzels can create their own steam in the oven! This self-steaming can result in a matte surface.