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Pretzel bread in large quantities. Need help applying the lye bath.

adam_dolcebakery's picture

Pretzel bread in large quantities. Need help applying the lye bath.

Hello, all. We have been toying with pretzel bread lately as a lot of our clients (restaurants) have been asking for it. We made a few test batches that came out pretty good with the exception of efficiency. It took FOREVER to dip each pretzel bun (3 oz hamburger bun) into the lye bath. Each "batch" is 180 rolls and I was wondering if anyone could help me in how to make this process go faster. Anyone bake pretzel buns professionally? If so, how do you poach a lot of them at once? 

Our dough is a brioche. Pretzel brioche. The flavor is heavenly but it seems that we are going to have to cut back the fats to make the dough less doughnutty/squishy and a bit more firm (although I am reluctant to do this as I love the brioche style texture combined with the salty pretzel flavor). We let the buns proof to their full size, peel them off the parchment paper, then poach in the 2% lye solution. The dough is so sticky and squishy it's very hard to do this quickly or in large volumes as the dough looks very... wonky and not a good uniform circular bun. 

We used a spray bottle with the lye solution and that worked. Sort of. The small drips of lye solution that ran down the side formed this "pretzel run" kind of thing. It wasn't consistent and didn't look appetizing. I need help on how to do this on a large scale and we are starting to panic a little. Thank you for any help. Cheers! 

iamsaraiam's picture

Sorry, i can't help but your recipe sounds delicious - brioche pretzel bread. would you mind sharing the recipe or point me in the direction of a good one?



dsadowsk's picture

but how about using a french fry basket? There must also be other metal baskets you can find at restaurant supply houses.

Another consideration is keeping your water at boiling when doing so many buns at once. In addition to using a large pot with high heat (actually, several pots so you can dip in one pot while the others are heating back up after the last load of buns), you might want to put an inert high density object, such as a solid glass ball, in the water to help keep the heat (think of it as a baking stone for a pot of boiling water). However I have no idea whether glass will stay inert in a lye bath, but I imagine you can google that.

adam_dolcebakery's picture

Thank you for your responses. I cannot share the recipe as it is our secret gold lol. But you can really make any bread into pretzel from what I understand. It's all about the lye bath. Only problem is that I can't mass produce it without screwing the bread shape... dang. If I find a rememdy I will post it but it's going to take a bit more recon. There is a guy in town (Louisville, Ky) who makes pretzel bread and maybe he will help but he's almost impossible to get on the phone. 

If anyone makes large quantities of pretzel bread, please tell me how you do it! :)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

rack or net, matt  that could be used to dunk, dunk tank the rolls into a lye solution , let em drip and the whole thing into a hot oven.

Went digging around and found this PDF file in German

Page 15,  ...and they write about cloth that is stuck to a frame using Velcro.  The pretzels are kept wet with the cloth.  Does that give you any ideas?  Their cloth is 100% polyester and marked in rows for easy alignment.  Also the mention of "laugenvorhänge" or "lye curtain" to drip over the pretzels.  Think: mop on a rod.  Something could be sewn up and threaded over say a poker type handle or large soft bench brush and used to wash over the surfaces.  Or just scroll down to chapter 8 for a look at a dipping tank.

adam_dolcebakery's picture

We finally ended up putting the perforated stainless sheet pans over a plastic lexan the size of the sheet pan itself. We then poured the lye out of a pitcher over the proofed brioche, the lye fell into the lexan which allowed us to pour the lye back into the pitcher. Baked at 350 for 11 minutes on convection, bam pretzel brioche.

It worked perfectly albeit a bit time consuming. Don't forget to spray the perforated sheet pans with pan release! Best of luck! :)

oregoncrepe's picture

We don't use a brioche dough (hmmm... may have to try ours)  but here is the process we've used for the last 118 months.

First, we make a 4% solution with hot water

Second, we put the solution in a half-hotel pan on an induction burner set at 200F

Third, we make a lifting rack from a quarter sheet stainless steel cooling rack rack and fashioned handles from stainless steel skewers.

We put 6 burger buns in, turn them over, lift, drain then slide onto silpats.  Put the next half dozen in. Arrange, the  first ones while they will still slide, and repeat. 12 buns on a full sheet.

Hope that helps.