Pretzels are German right? Or, Bavarian? I asked my dear Austrian friend to help me understand why pretzels were ubiquitous in Austria (as if soft, chewy salty bread needed a reason BESIDES pure deliciousness) He assured me that pretzels were EVERYWHERE in the Alps and stressed that they are NOT just a German thing- Pretzels belong to everyone in the Alps. Ok then!
So this week, I set out to find a soft pretzel recipe. That was straightforward enough. Most of the recipes called for the same basic ingredients; yeast, flour, salt, Lye… what? Lye? Like in Fight Club?? I’ve never cooked with a scary corrosive substance before- which may be comforting or disturbing to my Norwegian family (Lutefisk is made with Lye after-all) so I decided to seek out an alternative recipe… for round one. Here, I present you with a Lye-less soft pretzel recipe- and spoiler alert- they are yummy- BUT I have ordered some food-grade Lye, because I need to taste the difference.
2 tsp (1 Package) active dry yeast
1/8 Cup Warm water
1 1/3 Cup Warm water
1/3 Cup Brown sugar
4 1/2 Cups Flour
(lots of) Baking Soda (see below)
Pot of water
Dissolve the yeast in 1/8 cup warm water. Stir in 1 1/3 cups warm water, 1/3-cup brown sugar and 4 1/2 cups flour. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic. I let my dough rise for about 30 minutes for good measure.
Heat your oven to 475°. In a heavy saucepan, measure 2 tablespoons baking soda to each cup of water. Put enough water to fill the saucepan at least 3 inches high. Bring the soda and water mixture to a light boil and set heat to simmer. Make sure the baking soda is well dissolved. Tear off some dough and roll a long thick pencil shape with your hands. Pick up both ends, cross to form rabbit ears and then twist the ends and pull them back to the rest of the loop. Place aside on lightly floured surface and let rise a few minutes.
Tear off some dough and roll a long thick pencil shape with your hands. Pick up both ends, cross to form rabbit ears and then twist the ends and pull them back to the rest of the loop. Place aside on lightly floured surface and let rise a few minutes.