So, I have been waiting to make these pretzels for a long time and now we are finally making them everyday! I have to give it to Ralph -he introduced me to Lye, which is Caustic Soda/Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH). Dipping the dough in this solution is what gives the pretzels their main characteristic – the dark chewy crust. I often wonder who was the first person to ever do this – because Sodium Hydroxide is such a high 14 PH Alkaline – which is extremely dangerous.
In any occasion, the technique is very unique and interesting with an even more amazing outcome. After our rich dough has been proofed, we dip it into the lye solution and bake it in our Bongard deck oven. The result is out of this world – rich, soft crumb, with a thin and chewy crust, topped with crunchy, coarse salt. To top it all off, we mix our homemade mustard with acacia honey for dipping – and then enjoy an AMAZING treat!
Items required: Scale, Bowl, Small Kitchen 5 qt to 7 qt mixer with hook attachment and bowl scrapper, sheet pan, silpat, whisk, thermometer.
500 gr King Arthur Flour
16 gr Fresh Yeast ( Rapid Rising or Bread Yeast dry substitute is 6 grams.)
12 gr Sea Salt
60 gr 82% Butter (Pulgra)
1 ea Egg
15 gr Sugar
571 gr Milk
Scale all ingredients in separate containers. Allow the milk to warm up at room temperature for about 10 minutes before mixing. In the mixing bowl place the flour, dissolve the yeast with the Milk and the egg. Start your mixer with the hook attachment on speed low speed. Add all your liquid to your flour and mix for about 5 minutes. Allow the mixer to almost come together and all your butter and salt after the and continue to mix 5 minutes more. The dough should be together and smooth at this point. Take out from the mixer and finish working it on the table for about 3 minutes. Take the temperature of the dough which should be about 82-85F degrees.
Place the dough in a bowl and cover the bowl with plastic film or a moist towel (Not touching the bread) Allow the dough to proof for 1 hr. Take your dough and place it in the cooler over night. Now can you take out your dough and divide it into 180 gr portions and shape your pretzels (or buns)
Get your Lye Bath ready( Please be careful):
1 Lt Cold Water
40 gr Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH)/Caustic Soda (Dangerous)
Mix together and let it sit. (Use Gloves, and dust mask)
Once your Pretzels have proofed for 1 hr at room temperature dip them in the bath and place them in a sheet pan with a silicon mat (Silpat). Sprinkle the pretzel salt.
Bake at 350F in a standard house oven for 12-15 minutes depending on how dark you want them to be. Please make sure to discard of you NaOH bath properly down the drain and out of the reach of children. If you get this on your skin you need to wash your hands with cold water and soap.
-Mixer should not go above medium speed they might break
-Be careful with NaOH (I cant stress this enough) Baking Soda is a substitute but the result is not as nice.
-You can put any toppings that you might want.
-Fresh Yeast can be substitute for Rapid Rising or Instant yeast with very good results. (Also known as bread machine yeast.) No bloom required.
-Dry Active Yeast is not a good yeast in my opinion it leaves a sour taste behind and you have to bloom.