Using lye dip for german rolls / pretzels

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Using lye dip for german rolls / pretzels

Postby krm27 » Thu May 27, 2010 10:48 pm

After unsuccessfully trying to recreate German brotchen, I found a post suggesting the rolls should be dipped in a lye-water bath before baking, as the secret to the perfect crust. I have also found this suggestion in other places for making German pretzels.

I bought some lye (2 pounds was the SMALLEST container I could find, but it was still under $5 -- enough to last 10 lifetimes). After reading a bit about the safety hazards of working with lye, I'm a little concerned. I'm wondering if anyone here has used it like this, and what kind of safety precautions you use. It seems odd to be baking while wearing goggles and rubber gloves.

Some further reading also has me confused about whether this process is appropriate for brotchen rolls. I think that some people refer to German pretzels as brotchen, and maybe that is what the person who suggested using lye water was referring to. So maybe I am not supposed to use this at all for brotchen? (In which case, I'll still take a stab at German pretzels, since I've got the lye.)

Also, I'm trying to make some German and Austrian sausages (bratwurst and bosna) and I cannot recall what kind of roll I had those on when I was in Europe (decades ago). Any suggestions on the best bread for such sausages would be appreciated.
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Postby grisell » Thu May 27, 2010 11:10 pm

No, it's not lye! It's baking soda! :evil:

Washing soda: sodium carbonate (Na2CO3)
Lye/Caustic soda: sodium hydroxide (NaOH)
Baking soda: sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3)

Only the last of this is ever used in cooking. The other two are very caustic and can barely be handed without gloves and goggles. They would burn out your intestines!

Ther is one exception, though: the Scandinavian Lutefisk uses lye. However, this is soaked for a week before cooked.
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Postby mitchamus » Thu May 27, 2010 11:33 pm

grisell wrote:No, it's not lye! It's baking soda!


YEP! 100% agree. Please don't use Lye!!!!

Try the bretzel recipe I posted on your beginners post, they really
are "the real deal"

They use a baking soda bath for 10 seconds.
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Postby RodinBangkok » Thu May 27, 2010 11:42 pm

Well lye is used quite frequently still today, here's a link for making a lye bath. You need food grade, other than that I don't see a problem with it, just keep the lye stored clearly marked and away from any look a like cooking ingredients.

http://www.cs.uml.edu/~dm/brezla/
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Postby grisell » Thu May 27, 2010 11:51 pm

Hep! :)

Well, you learn something new everyday! Yes, give it a try if you like. I wouldn't.
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Postby grisell » Thu May 27, 2010 11:56 pm

It seems to be the correct method, though:

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brezel

However, I don't dare... :oops:
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Postby wheels » Fri May 28, 2010 3:09 pm

Lye is the correct method, but you can make them successfully using bicarb. My recipe and photo is here if anyone's interested:

http://www.localfoodheroes.co.uk/weblog ... =my_weblog

HTH

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Postby Oddley » Mon Jul 26, 2010 11:41 pm

I thought I would resurrect this thread, as I'm thinking about making some pretzels. I always try for authentic.

Wheels is correct, that sodium hydroxide is used for authentic German soft pretzels. I have just watched "How it's made" on the TV, and that was how it was done.

There is also a discussion on the Handmade Loaf website,
here. A recipe for pretzels using sodium hydroxide here.

You can buy sodiuum hydroxide in the UK here. Although I would ring them first, to find out if it is food grade.
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Postby wheels » Tue Jul 27, 2010 2:00 pm

Image

Mmm... Pretzels.

Great links Oddley.

Two tablespoons of bicarb of soda in each 500ml water when boiling them is a good substitute for the lye.

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Postby lemonD » Tue Jul 27, 2010 9:33 pm

As Rod as said never use caustic soda, only use food grade sodium Hydroxide also wear safety glasses and never add it to hot water, it's commonly available from Chinese and Asian stores as food grade Lye Water, used in the noodle making process.
I've used it for making noodles, be prepared for the stink if you use it.

Phil's baking soda works so go for that it's a no-brainer
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Postby Oddley » Tue Jul 27, 2010 10:44 pm

In the authentic recipe, it calls for sodium hydroxide. So for a no brainer, who should I take notice of you (lemonD), or a couple of million Germans. It seems like a no brainer to me.
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Postby wheels » Tue Jul 27, 2010 11:13 pm

Fair comment, but I didn't fancy using it and my daughters, who had just returned from Berlin when I made them, said that they were just like the ones they had there.

You pays your money and makes your choice! :D :D

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Postby grisell » Tue Jul 27, 2010 11:43 pm

I'd like to quote Kramer from the TV series Seinfeld: "These pretzels are making me thirsty!". :)
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Postby lemonD » Wed Jul 28, 2010 7:36 am

Oddley wrote:In the authentic recipe, it calls for sodium hydroxide. So for a no brainer, who should I take notice of you (lemonD), or a couple of million Germans. It seems like a no brainer to me.

Linking to a type of sodium hydroxide http://www.justasoap.co.uk/catalog/prod ... cts_id=798 that's only good for cleaning drains and making soap, is an error. I did try to explain this subtly, obviously I was too subtle.

So you've never used alternatives?

Have a nice day :)
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Postby Oddley » Wed Jul 28, 2010 10:14 am

If you read my first post, you will see I have not made pretzels at all yet.

If this is not the right lye. Then I am sure we would all like a link to the right sort of lye.

I really don't mind being told I'm wrong, but having it couched in such terms as a no brainer, I found a bit insulting, so may I suggest that subtlety is not your forte.
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