German Pretzels (Brezeln)

German Pretzels (Brezeln) I love brezeln. The chewy soft bread in the thick part, then the crunchyness at the thin ends, combined with yummy salt and butter - these are hard to beat. If you haven't tried these yet, you need to.

I have been wanting to make proper German brezeln (pretzels) for months, but surprisingly, the ingredients aren't all that easy to find in Germany. Baking Soda is not stocked at most Supermarkets, and Lye (Lauge) seems to be equally rare.

This recipe is based on a recipe found at, but adapted slightly to use Baking Soda instead of Lye, and to make a smaller number of larger brezeln instead.


  • 1 Tbsp yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 4 1/4 cups of bread flour (550)
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp baking soda, to be dissolved in 1 litre water
  • Sea Salt, the big gritty stuff


Start off by mixing the yeast with 1/4 cup of water and 2 tsp sugar. Leave to one side for 5 mins until the yeast is frothy.

Sift the flour into a bowl, add salt. Add the yeast mixture and another 1 cup of water to the flour, and mix into a dough. Using a little extra flour, knead the dough into a smooth ball for approx 5 mins. Allow to rest for 5 mins, then add the butter and knead again for 5 mins. The butter will make the dough very sticky at first, but this will go away by dusting with a couple of Tbsp of flour.

Clean and grease the bowl, add the dough to the bowl, cover, and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

Once the dough is ready, punch down to remove air bubbles, then break into 4 - 12 smaller portions, depending how big you like your brezeln. Roll each portion into a smooth ball, then roll out on a clean bench into a 20" / 50cm sausage shape - tapered thin at each end. Twist the ends around to make into a brezeln shape.

Place in the fridge for approx 1 hour to harden up a little, which makes the next part easier.

Lauge - the fun part

I used baking soda rather than Lye / Lauge for this part. Mainly because I wasn't able to find Lauge, but also because it's safer and easier to clean up. If you choose to use real lye, please take all necessary precautions.
Boil 1 litre water in a pot, then turn down to simmer temperature. Add 3 tablespoons of baking soda slowly and stir. Using a slotted spoon, add each brezeln to the lye water for approx 30 seconds, then place on the baking tray. After all brezeln have been dunked in lye, sprinkle with coarse sea salt and bake at 200 degrees celcius for 20 minutes.

Serve with butter, or sprinkle with cheese before putting in the oven for a käsebrezel which is another excellent combination.

Guten appetit.
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Tags: german recipesbrezelnbread