Today’s the Superbowl and I was asked to make some pretzel rolls to bring to the party we’re going to. I made a batch for Christmas Eve which everyone raved about so I used the same recipe I found on the TFL website. I also couldn’t help but try my own variation using my sourdough starter, pumpernickel flour and cheddar cheese.
I wasn’t sure how they would turn out, but I do have to say they didn’t dissapoint and rival the original. Come on….who doesn’t like cheese?
These are not hard to make except for the food grade Lye bath they go into. Many people say you don’t need to use Lye and can use baking soda. I have not tried baking soda yet since I still have plenty of the Lye. The Lye gives the pretzels a hard dark brown crust which is not easy to obtain with anything else. Feel free to use baking soda instead and increase the amount used versus the Lye.
Caution:When using the Lye make sure you wear gloves, long sleeves and protective eye gear. Also, never add Lye to hot water or it will bubble over and probably burn you.
Main Dough Ingredients for 10 rolls at about 110 grams each
145 grams AP Sourdough Starter at 65% or adjust flour and water accordingly
437 grams Bread Flour (KAF)
200 grams Dark Rye (also known as Pumpernickel)
5 grams Seas Salt or Table Salt
5 grams Diastatic Malt Powder
384 grams Water (80-90 degrees F.)
Cheddar Cheese cut into cubes (sorry but I forgot to measure the cheese)
Pretzel Salt (for topping only)
For Lye Bath (3.5% Solution
2 Liters (1836 grams) of Cold water
70 grams Sodium Hydroxide Crystals
Add the diastatic malt powder to the water and stir. Add the flours in your mixing bowl and slowly add the water mixture. Mix for about 1 minute until combined. Cut your starter in pieces and lay on top of the flour mixture and cover and let rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour so the flour can absorb the water.
Next add the salt and mix for 4 minutes on low. Place the dough in a slightly oiled bowl and do a couple of stretch and folds. Cover the bowl and let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Do another stretch and fold in the bowl and let it rest another 10-15 minutes. Do another stretch and fold and let the dough sit out in the covered bowl for another 1.5 hours. Place the dough in the refrigerator until ready to bake the next day.
When ready to bake take the dough out and leave it covered in your bowl for 2 hours. Next divide the dough into around 10 pieces that are 110 grams each. Flatten each piece into a circle and place a piece of cheese in the middle and pinch the dough around the cheese. Next flip over and roll against your work surface while creating a tight ball. Place on a baking sheet and cover with either a moist towel or plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray. Let it rest for around 60 minutes to about 1/2 proof.
While the rolls are proofing, fill a large stock pot with 2 liters of cold water. Measure out the Lye and slowly add it to the cold water. (DO NOT EVER ADD LYE TO HOT WATER). Cover the pot and bring it to a rolling boil and then shut off the heat.
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. When the rolls are proofed sufficiently, prepare to dip them for about 15 seconds in the lye bath upside down. Let them drain on a bakers rack over a cookie tray covered with a towel or parchment paper. After draining for a minute you can transfer them to a cookie/baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. You want to use a stainless steel cooking sheet as aluminum may react with the lye and peel. Note: do not ever use parchment paper as the rolls will get stuck to the bottom. I know this from experience and I had to cut off the bottoms of half the rolls I made.
When ready to bake, score each roll with an “X” on the middle and sprinkle with pretzel salt. Make sure you use pretzel salt if you want authentic rolls.
Bake for about 15-20 minutes until they are golden brown and register about 185 F in the middle. Let them cool on a bakers rack until you can’t wait any longer!
I actually couldn’t wait long enough to try one which is why the crumb shot below is a little gummy looking. It tasted good though!
Let’s go Jets! (Did I really say that? Must be the alcohol…..)
This post has been submitted to the Yeast Spotting Site here: http://www.wildyeastblog.com/category/yeastspotting/.
Lye Pretzel Method
Before you begin working with lye, there are a few precautions to take, since it is a hazardous chemical when it’s not handled properly. Always wear rubber household gloves that cover your forearms, as it will irritate your skin. Be extremely careful not to let lye water splash on you, and avoid touching the dipped pretzels with bare hands until after they are baked. Also, consider wearing protective eyewear. Make the solution in a well-ventilated room, have the stove’s hood vent on high power, and avoid hovering directly over the pot if there is any residual steam. Protective eyewear will also shield your eyes from steam that may irritate them when you open the oven door while the pretzels are baking. Or you can simply open the door and let the steam escape before leaning in, which is what I do. While all this sounds a little dangerous for a home kitchen, I’ve found that with these simple precautions, dipping pretzels in a lye solution is a safe and worthwhile endeavor that makes a huge difference in the authenticity of your pretzels. To get a crust with a deeply browned, lacquered appearance, the lye must be hot when the pretzels are dipped. You can prepare a cool lye bath by dissolving the lye in lukewarm water straight from the tap, without heating it, but the pretzels will emerge from the oven with a lighter caramel hue. To make the lye solution for soft pretzels: Select a large stainless-steel pot at least a fingers length greater in diameter than the width of the pretzels and tall enough so that the water comes up no more than 2 in/5 cm from the rim. Fill the pot with 6 cups/1.4 L of water. Wearing rubber gloves, add the lye, 1 tbsp at a time. With the hood vent on, warm the lye solution over high heat just until you see wisps of steam, and then remove the pot from the heat and cool the water until the steam subsides, about 5 minutes.
Swabian Pretzels (Laugenbrezeln)
(“Laugenbrezeln” means “lye pretzels,” so if you don’t use lye, don’t call them Laugenbrezeln): the lye bath is a 4% solution (4% lye to 96% water)
1 lb., 6 oz. (5 cups) bread flour
12 oz. (1 1/2 cups) warm water
5 Tbs. of soft, unsalted butter
2 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. diastatic malt powder (optional)
2 tsp. instant yeast
I make my dough in a bread machine. You can make it by hand or with a stand mixer, however you prefer. If you’re reading a blog here, you probably already know how to make yeast dough, so I won’t give much instruction here other than to say that you should develop the gluten (knead the dough) until you have a nice, smooth, firm dough. Let rise until double, or about 1 1/2 hours. Divide into 12 equal pieces (about 3 oz. each). Preshape each piece into a 6-in. rope. Shape dough as seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4oCx-JRFgE&feature=share (don’t worry that you can’t understand German; just watch until you see how to shape the pretzels. This video also shows a very nifty device for dipping the pretzels in the lye bath, but I haven’t been able to find one to order here!). Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
After shaping the pretzels, place them on a parchment/foil or Silpat lined baking sheet, cover with a plastic bag, and let them rise for about 30 minutes, or until puffy. Place them in the freezer for about 15 minutes, or until they are firm and don’t bend.
While the pretzels are hanging out in the freezer, make the lye bath. Weigh out 40 grams of lye crystals (you can order them from Amazon – make SURE to get food-grade lye!) into a glass bowl, then add 1000 grams (1 liter) of cold water. Stir with a wooden or stainless steel spoon until lye crystals are dissolved (this will take a few minutes).
When the pretzels are partially frozen, they are ready to dip. PLEASE wear long rubber gloves to dip the pretzels. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, dip each pretzel in the lye bath for about 30 seconds. The pretzels are slippery, so you’ll need those gloves! Let excess liquid drip off, then place pretzels on a Silpat lined sheet. Cut each pretzel along its “belly” and sprinkle with pretzel salt or kosher salt. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until a deep golden brown.
Pretzels are best eaten immediately, while still warm. If you can’t eat them all in one day, place cooled pretzels in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw pretzels outside of the bag on a cake rack. Warm them in a 350 degree oven for 3 minutes to crisp the outside.