The Fresh Loaf

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Lye bath questions for large pretzels batches

oregoncrepe's picture

Lye bath questions for large pretzels batches


My first post, so I don't know if this should be a topic or on the pretzel thread, but here goes:

Our pretzels, sticks and buns have caught one with a couple of brewery customers so we're making 200-300 sticks and 3-8 dozen pretzel buns at a time.

We use Hamelmanns recipe, make the buns and sticks after the first rise and then freeze them, They go from the freezer into the lye, salt, and then we fire them  As you can see they have plenty of oven spring and the flavor, well, that's why we are making so many :)

I'd appreciate advice on two things:

1. I've never read where the lye solution needs to be refreshed, but  as you can see from this photo a pretzel bun at the start of a batch (on the left) and at the end (on the right) look much different -- I had to give 4 dz to the local mission and start over.  

Does anyone have a rule of thumb on how much of a 4% is needed for a certain number of pretzels?  I used a 1/2 hotel pan (about 5.5 liters)   Any ideas on what happens to the lye? 

2.  Different recipes and bakers use a hot bath, some a boiling bath of lye, and some use a cold water bath.  Any thoughts?  We've tried cold, starting at 140F, and hot holding the bath.  Since we have this mottling problem at the same  time, apparently due to the 'wearing out' of the lye bath,  we have not been able to make any tests about hot or cold baths.

Thanks in advance for your help.


oregoncrepe's picture

i guess from the zero posts that not many have an opinion here, so here are some results that my be of use to others.

First,  I reviewed my concentration and found that my lye was not 4% but something less than that, as I did not accurately measure the water in the / hotel pan.  So I now weigh (in Kg) the water bath and add 40g/ of NaOH to 1 Kg of water.  (40/1000 = 4%)

Second,  I started with hot tap water but don't worry about keeping it hot. BTW, these go directly from the freezer to the lye bath and then to the oven.

Third,  I bumped up the temp - i noticed that when I load the convection oven (set at 410F) with 4 sheet pans the temp would drop to about 370F, so now I start at 450 for 2 minutes and then go to 410F.

As you can see from the linked picture they results are pretty good.  No more of the mottling.

I'll keep posting as i learn more -- I've gotten a lot of good advice on this site, hope this helps someone else.

makebreadnet's picture

Well done!  So you can make a whole batch now without 'refreshing' the solution? 

oregoncrepe's picture

yes,  I put a 1/2 hotel pan on the induction burner and 4000g of water, 160g og lye and can make about 250 sticjks and 5 dz buns before I run dry --  the last ones look as good as the first.   my pics are to big to upload but you can see them on our FB page or website. 


Happy new year.


fraupretzel's picture

Hey Richard, if you ever have time, I'd live to bring my pretzels down there and we can taste test and talk shop! I just got a steam bath warmer and have been dipping my pretzels in a warm lye solution that way. So far, I haven't really noticed a difference from using a cool solution. I'm happy with my results, but not thrilled. I really want to achieve that perfect crust and wish I could figure out what I need to tweak.