The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pretzel Flavor

michaelreeves's picture
michaelreeves

Pretzel Flavor

Hello,

 

I have been cooking soft pretzels at home for the last two years and having been slowly making my way towards a better, more authentic german lye pretzel. My problem is that my pretzels still seem to be lacking a certain flavor that I can't really describe other than it tastes the way an authentic german pretzel should. Also similar to dark brown hard pretzel snacks. I use a lye bath solution of about 3%-3.5%. I also use diastatic malt powder in place of sugar. From my reading it seems to be another key factor towards the taste I'm looking for. I've done a bunch of different variations on a bunch of different recipes and still haven't quite yet gotten the flavor. I've done Alton's, Hammelmans, Floydm's, translated german recipes, the New York Times& LA Times, and a bunch of random blog recipes. The texture of my pretzels crust seems to be on par with the correct color/soft crunch as expected in a german pretzel. The crumb however has a nice somewhat fluffy/ chewy texture(which is perfect for me), but seems to be a little plain and missing a little of the authentic flavor. I did a taste test comparison with the ones I made and one from a bakery here in LA. The bakery is Rockwagner. My pretzels looked similar. Theirs had a more even color crust but whatever. The taste however was not close. On a scale of 1-10 for rockwagner I'd give it a 9 and mine would be a 7.

Other than theirs being made by professionals in a professional enviornment, what secret ingredient and/or technique could enhance my flavor to get close to rockwagner level pretzels?

Keep in mind I have tried sourdough and other preferments, diastatic and non diastatic malt powder.

Maybe it's a certain mixture in the lye solution, longer fermentations, something but I don't know and would much appreciate any input anyone might have.

 

Thanks,

Mike

isand66's picture
isand66

I'm making 2 batches today for a Superbowl party.  This is the recipe I follow which I found on TFL http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/27639/pretzel-rolls-laugenweck.  My friends can't stop raving about them.  They taste exactly the same as the ones I have had at German restaurants.  Not sure if this differs from your own. 

 I am also making a Sourdough version with rye flour added which I will post tomorrow if they come out as hoped.

Hope this helps.

Ian

michaelreeves's picture
michaelreeves

Ian,

 

That recipe looks good. I never thought to mix the diastatic malt powder into the water. I'll give it a try. I'm looking forward to seeing the pictures of the sourdough and rye pretzels. I've been thinking of doing something similar. Although, I'm still not convinced that I've found the answer yet. I plan on doing a batch here in the next couple days so I could let you know if there's a difference in flavor.

Thanks,

 

Mike

 

isand66's picture
isand66

Mike, I posted my own SD interpretation of the recipe yesterday under the blog section.  Check it out.  Again, not sure if it is what you crave but may be worth a try.  They did turn out real good.  I made a double batch of the standard pretzel rolls and a single batch of my SD with dark rye and cheddar cheese stuffed inside.

Look forward to hearing about your trials and tribulations.

Ian

tabasco's picture
tabasco

Mike,

Maybe if you added a touch of whole wheat flour or maybe rye flour?  I have googled and read through lots of German recipes and American recipes and I noticed once in a while the baker added a bit of WW or Rye.  Or perhaps try the fine ground european style flour available at specialty supply stores.

One thing I  did learn from my reading is that there is a wide range of  'authentic' pretzels recipes--some are for particular seasons (like Lent, arriving in just a few days), food pairings, and events (Oktoberfest).  Also it appears different distinctive shapes and recipes are popular across provinces and regions of Germany and other countries in Mitteleurope. 

The latest recipe I'm going to try is by the San Francisco chef, Thomas Keller, who is French born but I think from the alsation region, so some German influence there.  He definitely has a fondness for 'Bretzels' as he calls them, and even includes one made from brioche dough for Sunday eating in his cookbook "Souvenir".

Good luck.  I'll be following your search for the ultimate recipe/techniques!  t.

drips's picture
drips

Hi Mike,

I too have tried various recipes and modifications to hit that full pretzel flavor. For me, a lean dough with the lye bath has yielded the most authentic taste. I tried DMP a few times but thought it was almost over-bearing in the flavor it imparted; probably great for hard pretzel but a bit to dark and rich for the softies. Let it be known that my standard for pretzels is NYC hotdog cart style which are not the best but have a certain charm. They are usually warmed over wood charcoal which imparts a very slight smokiness (and smells great in the crisp, cold air).

I prefer using AP to bread flour, and yeast to preferment. I've also found that a brief lye dip is better than overdoing it. I haven't done it yet but I do wonder about the cold retard after shaping that I see sometimes. You didn't mention it in your post but perhaps you already tried this. 

With your outlook and experimentation I don't know if any of this will help. It's nice to think that you're out there working away to make a pretzel you feel is top-notch. I'm sure during the learning process you've made a lot of people happy with yummy treats that did not leave them wanting ;-)