A Stir The Pots Post

Pretzel logic

by | Jul 26, 2010 | Bread, Brezeln, Food, Recipes

This weekend has been hot as an oven again, inside and outside. It's my perfect excuse for a baker's lost weekend, as the wife's away and I am furthering my perpetual education in baking. My latest trial has been going for that elusive pretzel, or should I say Laugenbrezel, more commonly known as a German lye pretzel.


For years I have wavered on whether I should try using lye, that caustic chemical that could burn your skin, blind you or, on a more hopeful note, unclog your clogged-up drain. Screw it, times a wasting! Last year I got the courage up and bought some lye online, but lacked courage  and time (or maybe it was just a sourdough recipe) to try and use it. Crank up the AC, crunch the percentages, and what else to do except make brezeln? I mean it's research, really!




My inspiration started last week while visiting my mom. We took a visit to that über supermarket and entertainment park known as Whole foods. As I passed the buffet line of salads and all sorts of healthy stuff, out of the corner of my eye, I saw these huge looking pretzels. I asked the lady behind the counter to cut it in half, dreaming of smearing it with butter and ham, like back in my days in Germany!

To my horror and amazement  she cut the pretzel in half on the vertical rather then horizontal. Horror. How was I gonna make a pretzel and speck sandwich? While trying to rectify the mistake with my wife's handy Swiss Army knife, it reminded me that Americans don't really understand how to enjoy a pretzel (or brezel). They eat these monster soft ones off push carts that are smeared with mustard. Or you find bagged in various guises and shapes of the  hard pretzel variety!


There is still a lot to be learned, in terms of what a real brezel is or how it should be eaten. Call it pretzel logic. My batch this weekend were based on the formula from FCI where I attended baking classes ages ago.I decided to turn them into sourdough with my new and improved stiff levain.



Makes 6 85g pieces.

220g flour

65g water (you may have to add a little extra depending on your absorption)

187g levain (mine is @60% hydration)

5g    malt

10g oil (neutral, canola, sunflower, or lard if you feel piggish?)

5g salt

Salt for the top of pretzels.

Mix all the ingredients till you get a firm bagel like dough.

Bulk proof about 2 hours. Pre-shape into small logs and rest 25 minutes.

Roll from the middle of dough out to both sides leaving the middle thicker as you roll out edges. Cross your arms and lift the two strands and twist, pressing the ends into the dough as illustrated!

Chill 30 minutes.

Lye dip: 40 grams of lye + 1 liter  water whisked carefully with wire whip until diluted…caution it's caustic, use gloves, goggles and open the windows to vent!!!

Proceed to dip pretzels, one at a time. Using a spatula or skimmer, place on a rack to let excess drip. Salt, I used Sicilian sea salt, or go without?

Bake @440 F for 16 minutes, no steam!

Das ist lecker!


  1. Teresa

    Awesome Jeremy! Great article. I find the baking soda in large amounts works terrific and isn’t dangerous.

  2. Jeremy

    Thanks Teresa,
    I used baking soda before sort of like boiling a bagel, not the same…besides a little caustic danger makes for a more efficient and precise baker, which is what I need!

  3. Laura

    I am planning of opening a bakery in the next 4-5 months next to a beer joint and pretzels are in my list of things to master and sell. How perfect to find this recipe from your blog. I will have to try it when I get some lye.

  4. Jeremy

    Grazie Laura,
    It’s relatively easy to make and there are so many variations of shapes and sizes you could make!
    I am curious about your bakery, tell me more!

  5. Mihl

    Your Laugenbrezeln look awesome! I used to make brezeln with baking soda but they are not the same. Now I always have some lye on hand.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Find More

Follow Us

Feel free to follow us on social media for the latest news and more inspiration.

Related Content