Recipes for traditional “Laugen” baked goods, such as pretzels and buns that have a dark brown crust, traditionally use lye, (yes, the alkali that will burn your hands). Extremely dangerous to work with, but completely harmless when baked, lye is what gives the German pretzel its unique, delicious flavor. As with almost any recipe, variations exist. Here is a simple, easy to make recipe for delicious German pretzel buns.
1 ½ cup warm water (110°F)
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
4-½ cups unbleached all-purpose Flour
4 tablespoons unsalted Butter, melted
¼ cups baking soda and 8 cups of water or
1/2 cup food grade lye/10 cups of water
1 whole egg, lightly beaten (optional)
Pretzel Salt, for sprinkling (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add water, yeast, salt and sugar, and let sit for about 10 minutes until yeast is activated. (You will see it bubble up through the water)
- Add flour and melted butter, and beat on medium until ingredients are well incorporated, the dough is springy (start with adding a bit less of the dough, and adding until the consistency is just right, to avoid buns from turning out too dry.)
- Cover dough with cling wrap and/or a wet towel in a warm place and let rise for about 1.5 hours
- Weigh your dough with a food scale and cut into equal pieces (for example, if the dough ways 600 g, roll 6 individual buns at 100 g) Place them on a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper. Cover once more and let sit for about 30 minutes.
- If using baking soda: bring water to a boil, then turn heat down, and slowly add baking soda. Be careful, do not add too quickly. With a slotted spoon, lower buns into the water, and poach each side for about 30 seconds, then set back on the backing sheet.
If using actual lye: Use latex/rubber gloves and protective eye wear! Lye will burn you! Read label of the lye carefully and do not use around children or animals! Using stainless steal utensils, mix 1/2 cup of lye and dissolve in cold (not boiling!!) water from the tap, and keep mixing. Do not let sit until completely dissolved, it will just sit at the bottom of your bowl and harden. Mix until completely dissolved and set aside. Carefully, and while wearing eye wear and gloves, use a slotted spoon to dip each bun for about 30 seconds, then flip. You will see them turn slightly yellow. That’s good! Place back on baking sheet.
- Lightly beat an egg and brush buns with mixture. (optional) Sprinkle coarse pretzel salt over them (optional).
- Optional: using a sharp knife, cut a diagonal or cross into buns, and let sit for 20 more minutes. The buns will continue to rise.
- Bake in oven for about 20 minutes, until nice and brown.
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