by: Gerhild Fulson / Cookbook Author, Blogger, German Oma!
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Let me, Oma, show you how to make this German pretzel recipe without lye using an easy trick. Using BAKED baking soda (my NEW method), your pretzels will remind you of Oktoberfest all year long.
This method of how to make homemade pretzels, aka Brezeln, is so easy. Crispy on the outside, yet with a soft center. It's a beginner-easy recipe that will have you hooked on homemade pretzels.
Why, you can even make pretzel buns, aka Laugenbrötchen, using the same method. Make them either round or oblong and as small or as large as you want.
NOTE: I've changed the recipe since I first posted it, so you'll want to take a look at how I make it now. It's even better and actually easier.
Making authentic German pretzels involves dunking into a caustic lye bath, lye being sodium hydroxide. The recipe below is a lot safer and here's how. Make Oma's German pretzels by dunking into a BAKED baking soda solution.
The only pretzel I knew over here in Canada was that little hard pretzel. Those small little hard, salty things one buys in bags as snack foods.
They're alright, but I always wondered what people saw in them. When I saw them for sale in Germany, large and bread-like, I just never bothered with them.
That is, until my recent trip to Germany. Accidentally, I had a Laugenbrötchen. It looked very similar to the German soft pretzels, only it was a round roll with cuts in the top and sprinkled with coarse salt. After that, I indulged in traditional Bavarian pretzels whenever I could!
Oh my, delicious!
This started my quest for the perfect German recipe for pretzels. Since they aren't available at a grocery store where I live, I need to make them when I get a craving.
In the traditional way of using lye pretzels take on a wonderful distinctive flavor and color. Using lye for authentic pretzels that taste like they came from a German bakery requires the use of rubber gloves and safety glasses!
I wanted something a little bit, make that a whole lot, safer and easier.
It's been a continuous quest for that easy recipe and I just recently discovered (thanks to Harold McGee in the NY Times) to BAKE the baking soda instead of using a plain baking soda mixture in boiling water in a large pot that most non-lye recipes use.
The recipe below will make 12 medium-sized pretzels or 10 medium-sized rolls. You can make them smaller or larger, depending on how you plan to use them.
Celebrate Oktoberfest right at home with these German recipes found right here in Oma's Oktoberfest e-Cookbook.
Take a peek at all Oma's eCookbooks. They make sharing your German heritage a delicious adventure!
Simply put, by baking the baking soda, a chemical reaction occurs that turns sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) into sodium carbonate, a stronger alkali, a slightly more caustic soda.
This makes a stronger alkaline solution to dunk the raw pretzels in and gives that wonderful golden brown color and more pretzel-y taste.
Think washing soda, because that's what sodium carbonate is. But don't use washing soda for this, since that isn't sold as food grade. Instead, you're going to make your own food-grade batch to use.
If you have sensitive skin, you may want to wear some type of latex gloves when dunking your unbaked pretzels. I found using a large slotted spoon or a spider, works as well.
Using BAKED baking soda for the baking soda wash is a great alternative to plain baking soda. BTW, this baked baking soda can also be used for homemade ramen noodles.
Either make just what you need as you start to make your pretzel dough or make enough to store for future use as well.
Here's how to make Baked Baking Soda:
Here's a photo sent in by a Bavarian baker's son. He continues with his dad's tradition of making these Laugenbrezeln with a food-grade lye solution, so if that's the recipe you'd like, check it out here.
Among Oktoberfest recipes, this Pretzel recipe below should be a must. It's actually quite easy to make.
Do as the Germans do and cut them in half and slather with butter.
Or, be American and dip into a cheese sauce or honey mustard, make that German mustard.
Served right out of the oven, you'll soon be in love with these too. If you like sweet pretzels, then omit the sprinkling of salt and brush with melted butter once out of the oven. Then dip them into a mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon.
Start by baking the baking soda so it will be ready to use when you need it. Then, make the simple yeast dough and let it rise until doubled in volume.
Form the classic Bavarian pretzel shape with a fatter centre and crossed ends.
Make the baked baking soda bath and dunk the pretzels (or the buns).
Slit pretzels, sprinkle with salt, and bake.
Yummy in my tummy!
The ones above look "rustic" because I was having fun playing with different ways to "fold" them. The result though, delicious and looking totally homemade. The BEST!
If you want them to be the same size, you'll need to weigh the dough pieces to keep the size the same. I usually don't bother, unless it's for company. Then I'm a bit more careful with size and fold. The ones above were just for hubby and me to indulge in.
Yep. Hummus. Sylvie, my daughter-in-law, shares that hummus is delicious with this. Her easy hummus recipe is so quick to make and it's becoming wildly popular in Germany. Try it. I think you'll like it too!
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As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
This method of how to make pretzels, aka Brezel, is among the easiest I've found. They are crispy on the outside, yet soft on the inside.
Originally I used simmering baking soda solution and the pretzels were good. Now, I use a BAKED baking soda bath instead and the pretzels are so much better! You can also divide into the dough into 10 and make Laugenbrötchen, pretzel rolls.
Makes 12 pretzels or 10 rolls
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Unless otherwise noted recipe, images and content © Just like Oma | www.quick-german-recipes.com
09.07.2021 revision update
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