The Fresh Loaf

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Pretzel Problems using Lye

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CJRoman's picture
CJRoman

Pretzel Problems using Lye

I'm finally not terrified to work with lye and have to say, the taste is top-notch. However, I'm not getting that rich, dark brown.

I used 30 grams of food-grade lye plus 1 quart of warm water. Dissolve and dunk FROZEN pretzels into the bath for 30 seconds. Freezing them, I've learned, is critical to working with this stuff. However, I'm not sure if that affect the coloring?

I typically bake them for 12 minutes at 400...but these I had to leave in for about 16 to brown. I was really hoping for that DARK brown color but it never happened! Moreover, there were splits in the crust GALORE and some had bubbling on the skin.

The tasted GREAT....but not what I was shooting for....any advice???

dosco's picture
dosco

... bake them longer? Or at a higher temperature ... like 425F or 450F ...?

Dave

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

try soaking a little longer.     

or upping the lye concentration in the water.

alconnell's picture
alconnell

I bake mine at 450 and soak them about 60 sec.  I use about 3 TBS lye per liter of water.  I also refrigerate my dough about 20 min. after mixing before forming and have no need to freeze them.  It should be a drier type of dough which makes it easier to work.  Good luck!

 

CJRoman's picture
CJRoman

I'm going to try upping the temperature and see what happens....

I'm hesitant to soak them longer....even at 30 seconds they start to defrost and become difficult to handle without unraveling their shape.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

What is your dough hydration?  It should be a rather stiff dough for AP  50 to 55%.    Added malt in the dough will darken the pretzel surface too.

Can you up the lye and use ice cold water? 

CJRoman's picture
CJRoman

Mini! Thank you for reminding me...

I have been wanting to add malt to these but I am always confused about which kind...can you help? The last time I dabbled in malt...I used the one that encourages enzymatic activity and the dough POOFED! What do you recommend?

I have also tried malt syrup but that changes the hydration...

I use bread flour....the hydration is 53%

Question...when I go flour hunting...I see Bread Four and then 50lb bags of "High Gluten" Flour. I use a poolish with my pretzels to add some 'chew'...but is there anything to be gained by High Gluten over Bread?

I have not tried lye in ice cold water...I imagine it would be very hard to dissolve???

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

If it is liquid, add it to the water so your hydration comes out the same.

Use malt like sugar salt, same %  at least for starters.

I use AP.  Unless you ferment them for long times, I wouldn't bother with the high gluten or too much bread flour in the recipe.  

You've said the taste is good so don't mess with your flour.  Just try adding some malt to the recipe and see what happens.  You will see the results right away.  Dissolve lye in warm water then chill it and keep it in the refrigerator.  

CJRoman's picture
CJRoman

I see. Do you add the malt to the poolish? Or the final dough?

Which kind of malt? Diastatic?

Are your pretzels chewy enough with AP???

You know, I never thought about making the lye bath and then chilling it...that is a GREAT idea! Thanks!

adri's picture
adri

I don't bake Brezen so I cannon write from my own experience.

But I just read in a German bakers magazine (not the ones you get as a customer but one for professional bakers) the following and remembered your post:

The main reason for light colour usually is, when the Brezel is not baked directly after applying the lye

Bubbles happen, when it is not baked directly after applying the lye.

As both things indicating the same, it could be the reason. I hope you still read this as I saw it and replied very late and hope I could help.

Adrian

CJRoman's picture
CJRoman

This is such a great insight!

As it stands...since I am still a little terrified of lye...I dunk one at a time. That means that after the first one is dunked...there are still several 30 second rounds of dunking for the rest before the tray goes in. Considering that lag...this would make perfect sense!

Any suggestions on how to find a vessel that will (1) stand up to the lye and (2) allow for more pretzels to go into the solution at ONE time??

adri's picture
adri

I get you. I have so much respect of the lye, that I always find other baking projects even though I already got the lye balls here waiting for me. Do you use safety goggles, inhalation protection, ...? This might speed up the process if you can move more freely.

As far as I know, the 30 seconds are too long. From what I've seen they are just dipped in the lye for one to three seconds. The recipes for at home demanding 30 seconds use NaCO3 (baking soda) whereas bakers use NaOH (coustic soda).

In Bavaria the Brezen usually are not scored (compared to other regions of Germany and Austria) and have only about 3% (bakers%) of fat. They are more crisp and open just a bit by it self. This might give you some time.

The %ages I just have from the article I mentioned. Here it is online, maybe it is readable with google translator: http://www.e-baker.net/brezeln-und-brezen

In my opinion it is, but then again, I do understand the original. Just 2 important words google doesn't translate: "belaugen - to apply lye / Belaugung - application of lye" and "abbacken - to bake (completely)". And if you have any problems understanding the text you can ask me.

Just one thought: My parents used to have a frying pot (they never used) that had something like a basket to put in the potatoes and then put it in the hot oil. These pots exist in stainless steel. I think 3 to 4 Brezen would fit in there at a time. Maybe you can find a used one on a flea market.

Adrian

CJRoman's picture
CJRoman

Adrian,

I do use safety goggles and gloves...but this has yet to take away my anxiety! You still have to touch other things and get the gloves on and off...and I'm still pretty nervous.

Hm...maybe you are right about the timing? 30 seconds being too long? Where have you seen it done differently? Everything I read said 30 seconds...but maybe there is a better way...

Your parents were able to use metal with they lye? Originally I was told glass or plastic...that's it...because it is a hazardous chemical. Stainless steel works?

adri's picture
adri

It depends on what lye you use, how long it will take. If you use real one, the time will be very short.

Here is a Video of a private person doing it with 30g coustic sona per liter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=DHr4VGGS7Zo#t=102

In professional bakeries there seems to be just a short shower: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=uC1_TuTucKY#t=242

Adrian

adri's picture
adri

Well, the lye is used to clean things made of some kind of "Edelstahl". I don't know if "stainless steel" is a good translation.

At least I think X6Cr17 that is often used for household items should withstand the leye as long as you don't use  higher concentration or make it too warm. (But I'm not an expert. Better not to try it with the most expensive pot you have.

Adrian

CJRoman's picture
CJRoman

Ah! I wish I knew what they were saying!!!  :-)

So...I'm surprised! It looks like a fast dunk gives great results!

I use 30g of a food-grade lye. I'll try a fast dunk and get them in the oven faster.

Question...it was suggested to dissolve my lye in warm water...then store it in the fridge so its nice and cold. Theoretically, dunking in cold lye will be easier with frozen pretzels because the warm lye defrosts them quickly....what do you think?