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Soft Pretzels using lye

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Member since 2009

Serves 8 pretzels | Prep Time 90 minutes | Cook Time 10 minutes


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 (4 T)
Vegetable oil, for pan
Pretzel salt or Sea Salt
2 qt water
2 T lye (food grade NaOH)

2 oz (4 T) additional butter

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 470 degrees F.

Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt.

Mix 2 T lye with 2 qt of water and heat to a steep (not boil).

*** IMPORTANT *** Lye is a caustic substance and must be treated with care as it can cause severe skin burns. Use rubber gloves and goggles when handling lye. If you get some on exposed skin, immediately run water over it for 8 to 10 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto 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 the pretzels into the lye water for 5 seconds each.

Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula.

Put them on the half sheet pan and sprinkle with the pretzel salt.

Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 8 to 10 minutes.

Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.


While still warm, slice the pretzels in half like a bagel (this can be done with a sharp chef's knife or with a bagel slicer)

Butter the inside of the pretzel

Add a little parsley to each half

Put the two halves back together and enjoy your Butterbrezel (a favorite in southern Germany!)

Pairs Well With


Pretzel recipe from Good Eats, but done with lye rather than baking soda.

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