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Bavarian Pretzels

History gives the nod to the invention of the pretzel by a Monk who resided in either Northern Italy or Southern France. But it sure didn't take long to make it's way across the Alps to Bavaria where the Pretzel (or Brezl) was perfected, in my opinion, by the Germans. All over Bavaria one can find delicious pretzels. Especially large at Oktoberfest, they are slightly crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. All around Munich you will see people enjoying a mid-morning breakfast of these wonderful Brez'n accompanied by a tall Weissbier (Wheat Bier) and Weisswurst (white sausages) with sweet mustard. You have to try it!

The recipe below is quite popular with my friends and is the best pretzel recipe I have come across. Enjoy!

As a note: Pretzels in Bavaria are made by dipping the pretzel shaped dough in a bath of a lye solution. This is what gives the pretzels there distinctive crunchy texture. Although lye is a caustic and can be dangerous if it comes in contact with skin or eyes, it is rendered inert when baked. I give instructions for using both lye (authentic) and baking soda solution (softer and lighter in color) below.


pretzel pic

Dissolve yeast in 1/8-cup warm water and brown sugar. Stir in 1 1/3 cups warm water, add salt and flour. Knead dough until smooth and elastic. Dough does not need to rise.

Heat oven to 400°f.

For Baking soda method: In a saucepan, measure 2 tablespoons baking soda to each cup of water. Put enough water to fill the saucepan at least 3 inches high. Bring soda and water mixture to a light boil and set heat to simmer. Make sure the baking soda is well disolved.

For lye method: Use ONLY a glass bowl and plastic measuring and stirring utensils. Put 1 quart of water in the bowl first and then add the lye. Stir slowly and do not splash. Wear protective goggles and plastic gloves. Do NOT heat the lye solution!

Cut the dough into eight pieces. Roll a long thick pencil shape with your hands but keep the middle a little thicker. Pick up both ends, cross to form rabbit ears and then twist the ends and pull them back to the rest of the loop. Place aside on lightly floured surface and let rise 10 minutes or so.

Place pretzels one at a time in water/baking soda or lye mixture for 10-15 seconds. I use a large slotted plastic spatula. Push down with plastic utensil to ensure good coverage. Remove the pretzel from the bath (let drain a few seconds on the spatulas so you are not dripping) and place onto a pan lined with parchment paper.

Use a sharp knife and slit the fattest part of the pretzel. lengthwise. Salt the top of pretzels with course ground sea salt/pretzel salt. Place cookie sheet with pretzels into the oven for 18-19 minutes or until pretzel is to desired darkness. Pretzels made with lye will get quite dark and the tips should be hard. Pretzels made with baking soda will not get as brown. Enjoy while warm.

I recommend sweet mustard with these. Great with German Weisswurst and a Weissbier!

Notes: Do not refrigerate this dough, it will become unworkable. Also, do not try to make pretzels as big as in the picture. About 6" in diameter is fine.

If you got to this page by searching for Pretzel Recipes on the Internet, then hit the home button below to check out my home page about Munich's Oktoberfest.