Monday, 6 December 2010

(modified) Pretzels

by Francesca

pretzels 1

When I wrote about Batch Baking, I mentioned making pretzels, and a few of you asked how I make them. I make soft pretzels, which are traditionally made from a simple dough of flour, yeast, water and (usually) some butter, which is cut and rolled into strips that are looped in the distinctive pretzel shape, then boiled, sprinkled with salt, and baked. They are very easy to make, but a little time-consuming, because there are several steps involved. Pretzels make tasty snacks, and when stored in an air-tight container, they keep well for several days.

There are a number of excellent pretzel recipes online. I particularly like this traditional Bavarian Pretzel recipe, which has measurements both in metrics and cups, and also explains how you can have pretzels with a tall beer and white sausage slathered with sweet mustard as a mid-morning breakfast - I must remember to try that tomorrow morning!

However, I've made some changes to the original Bavarian Pretzel recipe. The flour I use is a mix of ⅔ whole wheat and ⅓ all-purpose flour, and I use a little extra-virgin olive oil to make the dough more elastic (though most pretzel recipes call for butter, this particular one has no butter or fat at all). Also, in line with our family's effort to reduce salt consumption, I don't sprinkle them with pure salt, but include sea salt, sesame seeds and fresh thyme in an egg glaze, and I spoon it over the pretzels before baking.

So, here's the recipe for my modified Bavarian Pretzels:

pretzel 2


Pretzel dough:

150 grams all purpose flour
350 grams whole wheat flour (total flour approx 4½ cups)
1 ½ cups warm water (approx)
1 package active dry yeast
3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
½ tsp brown sugar
½ tsp sea salt

For boiling:

saucepan half-full of water
baking soda (2 tbs per 1 cup of water)

Egg glaze:

4 tbs sesame seeds
½ tsp fresh thyme
4 tbs coarse sea salt
1 egg white

Stir the brown sugar and yeast into the warm water, letting the yeast dissolve. Add the all-purpose and whole wheat flours and the oil, and knead until the dough feels smooth. It should be firm and elastic, but not sticky. Put the dough in a bowl, cover with a dish-cloth, let it rise in a warm place until it doubles in size.

Line 2 or 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Add baking soda to water, bring the water to a boil. Pre-heat oven to 220C/450F.

Make the egg glaze: in a small electric mixer, combine seeds, thyme and salt, pulse a couple of times, add to the egg white, and beat well with a fork. (NOTE: the thyme may turn intense green during baking, probably as a reaction to the traces of baking soda on the pretzel's surface).

Divide the dough into 8 parts, roll out with your hands or on a work surface, and shape as a pretzel. To do this, you make a U shape, then take the ends, cross them over each other, and press them on the bottom of the U.

Place the pretzels in the boiling water one at a time, and leave for about 30 seconds each. They will puff up nicely as they boil. Scoop out each pretzel and place on a cookie sheet.

Spoon the egg glaze over the pretzels. Bake until golden brown (about 10 minutes).

PS Because in my family we are preparing to celebrate Christmas, I also modified the traditional looped pretzel shape slightly, to make a batch of holiday-shaped pretzels (here)!


Mrs. J said...

This looks delicious! Thank you for sharing the recipe. I've been meaning to try making pretzels and bagels, but I've yet to have an opportunity. I think I'll use my time off around Christmas to attempt these! :) I'll let you know how it goes, and hopefully I'll have a blog post about it.

Significantly Simple said...

These look delicious - I would love to try bagels and pretzels, but haven't had the nerve just yet.

Anonymous said...

they look fantastic!

Coach Outlet said...

I've been meaning to try making pretzels and bagels, but I've yet to have an opportunity. I think I'll use my time off around Christmas to attempt these! :) thank you!

Anonymous said...

Actually, bavarian pretzls are made by spraying with a lye solution prior to baking, not boiling in baking soda solution.

Anonymous said...

No fat? What do you think olive oil is?

Francesca said...

@ Anonymous #3 ~ the Pretzel recipe with no fat at all, is actually the original Bavarian Pretzel recipe (see link) that I modified, as clearly stated in the text.

@ Anonymous #2 ~ I found some recipes that listed food-grade lye for dipping, but personally I wouldn't know where to find it. Should anyone be interested, according to NYTimes, sells it (

Francesca said...

Opsy, something happened to the NYTimes link above:

Sense of Home said...

Oh, these look delicious! I have never made pretzels, but this recipe makes it seem easy. Don't think I would try the lye solution, maybe that changes the outcome, I don't know, but these look good as they are.



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Tripp Fenderson said...

If you want an authentic taste/mouth-feel, make the extra effort and use lye instead of a baking soda boil. My girls LOVE it when I make pretzels for snacks.

mac cosmetics outlet said...

It’s only after editing when I realize what I’ve done. Any way Ill be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.It looks like going to be a sunny day.Hope everyone keep good mood.

Amy said...

Oh what a great idea! These look yum. I had a batch baking fest the other week and made hundreds of crackers! A bit time consuming, but very fun and super delicious!
We had homemade bagels with homemade cream cheese for breakfast on Sunday, it was divine :)

Tiffany Jewelry said...

how good a cook you are. i feel hungry after reading your article.

Peasant Gourmet said...

The lye is used to increase the pH, and so cause the deep brown color. Baking soda doesn't increase the pH as much, so the brown isn't is as intense. The flavor will be a little less, too, but in theory, baking soda probably does just fine as a substitute. (They look great, by the way).