The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Soft Pretzel and Bagel Water Bath Flops

SugarpineJaci's picture

Soft Pretzel and Bagel Water Bath Flops

Following a couple different traditional recipes for German Soft Pretzels and Bagels I end up with the same problem.  The water bath!  Everything looks perfect until I drop in the water and then the bread deflates.  I've continued through the recipes and baked them even though they don't look right.  They taste good, but are a flatter than they are supposed to be.  I've only used a baking soda bath.  Can humidity affect it?  Could I be letting the dough rise too much (I'm going by the recipe and never have a problem with other breads)?  Would lye make a difference?  Do I need to add more baking soda?  The first one in or the last one in seem to deflate similarly.

We still eat them as they taste good, just can't serve to family or friends (oh darn!  More for me!)



isand66's picture

You are over-proofing it for sure.  Watch the dough and not the clock.  For the pretzels they should only rise about 50%.

I have posted on several versions of the German pretzels in the past.  I use a lye bath but there is no reason why the baking soda should cause your dough to deflate.

oregoncrepe's picture

Isand66 is right, sounds overproofed.    

They are easier to work with a skin on them.  We freeze ours after about 15 min of proofing, and use a hot 4% lye bath.  We make hundreds a week.  If you don't want to use lye, trying baking your baking soda (dry) in the oven -- read Harold Mcgee's NY Times article.

Don't give up!