This is the hard way of baking original German (Swabian) Bretzels. For the easy way, check out the Pretzel post at TheFreshLoaf. And by the way, I do think that going the extra mile of creating the Pâte fermentée and using real lye (Food grade Sodium Hydroxide – NaOH, which I bought from Amazon) is totally worth the effort. The second secret ingredient is the diastatic (baking) malt, which gave the dough the right chewy texture.
I got the recipe from a German site called Chili und Chiabatta. This is my English version, slightly simplified:
A day ahead, create the Pâte fermentée (fermented dough):
- 144g White Flour
- 94g Water
- 2.8g Salt
- 1 pinch of Dry Yeast
Kneed everything together, cover and let rise for 12-16h at about 70F.
Now create the real dough:
- 578g White Flour
- 340g Water
- 12g Salt
- 14g Fresh Yeast (I used 2.5 tsp Dry Yeasy)
- 36g soft Butter
- 7g Baking Malt (I used 1 tbsp Cane Sugar)
- 240g Pâte fermentée (all the above)
Mix everything together, except the Pâte fermentée, for 3min in the FoodPro. Now add the Pâte fermentée in chunks and continue to kneed for 5min. Let rise for 1h (in a slightly greased bowl, covered with cling wrap at 21C), fold the dough and let rise for another hour.
Make about 15 portions (85g each) and roll them out to about 60cm long ‘worms’ with a thick middle section. Lay into the typical Bretzel shape.
Cover with cloth and let rise for 30-45min. Now cool in the fridge for 30min – the Bretzels are a lot easier to handle afterward.
Now the fun part – The lye:
- 1250g cold Water
- 50g NaOH
Warning: Wear protective goggles and gloves and only use glass or stainless steel – especially aluminum does not withstand this solution (check your baking pan)!
(Now is a good time to preheat your oven to 230C) Slowly stir the NaOH into the cold water until fully dissolved. Using a large skimmer dunk each Bretzel into the solution for 5s. Top with coarse salt and using a sharp knife, make an incision at the belly of the Bretzel.
Update: Because those Bretzels taste the best right after baking, I did try to freeze a couple of them at this point in the process and the result was encouraging – Give it a try, if you don’t think you will eat all of them right away :)
On a well greased baking pan (No Al!) bake the Bretzels for 14-16min at 230C.
Bretzels taste best when still warm – try them with a Bavarian Cheese spread called Obatzda!