The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Question on lye pretzels

txfarmer's picture

Question on lye pretzels

I made lye pretzels for the first time yesterday following Hamelman's formula in "Bread". The shape and volume is fine, but the color is not as dark as I expected. Not as shiny either.


While it tastes good, the crust is not as crispy and hard as I would like.


What did I do wrong? I used food grade lye (scary!), and dissolved 30g in 1000g of cold water. Do I need more lye? Or do I need to heat the lye solution? I didn't heat it, I just submerged each pretzel in the solution for 30 seconds. Help!


flournwater's picture

I don't know enough about lye infused pretzels to answer your question but I do recognize art when I see it.  Nice work ....

txfarmer's picture

I am happy with the shaping, but the crust is too bagel like, not firm enough.

Sedlmaierin's picture

Hmmmmm, all I can think of saying is that when I made the pretzels according to Hamelman's recipe I had to leave them in the oven quite a bit longer than stated in the instructions. I mean like 5-8 minutes longer....I just took them out when they had the color I wanted them to have and by that time they were plenty crunchy.....I need to check my blog to see if I left the oven door slightly ajar-I don't think so but I might have.

Good looking pretzel, though


txfarmer's picture

That might be it. The book stated 14 to 16 minutes, I took them out at 15, maybe I should leave them longer.

acbova's picture

You need to dry them.   But I would eat that just the way it is now!

dsoleil's picture

Everything I have read says to dissolve the lye in cold water and then bring it to a boil.  I think your measurements are correct.  You just need to boil your pretzels before the bake.  30 seconds on each side should do it.  

copyu's picture

"The hidden trick to this recipe is having a really hot oven.  The lye dip should sizzle as the pretzels are put on the baking surface. New owner of US-based Schmid's Bakery, famous for its German Brezen. [I believe they reduced the heat a little bit after 5-6min...]

My German sources all agree that they must go IMMEDIATELY from the lye dip onto the baking surface (and I assume they mean a HOT baking surface, although it's not always clearly specified)

Yours are probably the most beautiful pretzels I've seen on the internet, (GREAT JOB!) but I'd agree that my 'ideal' would be a *teensy bit darker*.

Some old Schwaebian bakers say they add a bit of "Dinkelvollkornmehl" to their Brezel recipes. [That's whole-meal Spelt flour.] Some use a couple of tablespoons, others use a generous handful.

I'm desperately awaiting my Dinkelmehl and Natronlauge to do my own Brezeln within the next couple of weeks...  

Best wishes,


PS: Here's an Austrian baker doing all spelt-flour "Bierbrezeln" on video...,16854,17438.html


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

To promote buying your pretzels from the baker perhaps?

He demonstrates two methods of shaping, the first one (twice) is Austrian, the second method is from Bayern, "because they have less time perhaps than Austrian bakers." (a quip)

I like the shape best with the thicker and tapered round.  It's so inviting to bite into!  One knows intuitively where to attack!


copyu's picture

Actually, it didn't really even register with me that he'd omitted, arguably, the most important phase.

I watched all 4 of his videos on "Kleingebaeck" with great interest and was much more into researching the uses of Dinkelmehl...otherwise, I would've commented on it myself, when posting the video.

Interesting side-note—the heir to the Schmid's bakery (in Chicago) whom I quoted in my previous post, remarked:

"Some 'soft' pretzel manufacturers use baking soda dips instead of the caustic soda. While we Schmids thought such practices as nonsense, we appreciated other bakers doing this, since our pretzel business was never threatened by them."

Sedlmaierin's picture

Ohhhhhhh MINI-*imagine me gasping in outrage*! Wanna box? No quipping about Bavarians! HMPH


*just kidding*

Susan Kline's picture
Susan Kline

Your pretzel looks perfect to me and I'm originally from Philadelphia where these pretzels are extremely popular.  They are one of the things I miss most since moving away.  I personally wouldn't want them any darker and would be afraid of overcooking them.  The bagel like texture (NY bagels) also sounds just right.  Try some French's yellow mustard on top while the pretzel is still warm.  Heaven!

ehanner's picture

Absolutely stunning photo txfarmer! Your pretzel looks perfect.


audra36274's picture

Just jumps off the page! It is BY FAR your best work. Your baking has always been top shelf, now your photography skills are showing off your work in it's best light! Love it!!!


Susan's picture

I've never attempted pretzels, so can't comment on technique, but your photos are gorgeous!  The pretzels are just popping out of the page.

Susan from San Diego

oregoncrepe's picture

1000g water calls for 40g of lye for a 4% 

I start with hot water, slowly add the lye (it might boil over if the water is too hot) and get to about 200 F (97 or so C).  Your shaping is inspiring.  

Perhaps start with a hotter oven or bake a bit longer.