Authentic German Soft Pretzels (Laugenbretzel)

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I year ago I started food blogging on schokolala.com. And though I have moved all recipes and food talk over here to camolove, I’m am very proud to still be amongst the food bloggers – I thought it would end with the end of pregnancy, when I would supposedly stop obsessing about food – turns out I’m still obsessed with good food even post pregnancy. So to celebrate my German American mash-up foodie life I have made some authentic German soft pretzels, or Laugenbretzel (also no German-American playdate goes without pretzels). The term “Laugen” means lye. I had never thought about the name and what it means  until today when I researched how to make them. One of the original German recipes calls for the use of lye. Now I do a lot of crazy stuff, especially in my kitchen, but I draw the line when a recipe includes the following instructions “go to the pharmacy” “put on your gloves” and “wear safety goggles”. The American recipe I found for soft pretzel uses a little work around the lye using a baking soda and water solution, which still made for a fun science project but at least I was never at risk of losing my eyesight 😉

I used the recipe from foodnetwork.com by Alton Brown, you can find it here. Because I usually peel of all the salt from my pretzel before I eat it, I omitted the Pretzel salt and used some sesame seeds instead. I also omitted the egg and water wash…because…well…because I forgot.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • Vegetable oil, for pan
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Pretzel salt

Method

Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F/230C. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

They are perfect! Serve with butter and a glass of beer…and call it a night!

I also made some “Soft Pretzel Petit Fours” which is fancy for lil’ pretzel balls.

 

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