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German Pretzels (Bretzeln) [moved from Int'l board]

Why is it impossible to duplicate the crisp golden texture of a German Soft Pretzel, and suggestions? I was told that it is a certain type of acid dip that the dough is placed in before baking...I have tried Baking Soda/water wash that is common in the states..have also tried the old egg wash routine..same boring results...HELP !!! Can't afford to travel for the Mueller experience at this time

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  1. I can't help you, but your internet search might go better if you type in "bretzeln" not "bretzen." Good luck.

    1 Reply
    1. re: aelph

      Sorry my mistake, but I also see it come up under both spellings, thanks...Correct it doesn't solve my problem

    2. There is a bakery, Rockenwanger in Culver City, CA that makes excellent and authentic Bretzeln. I actually favor Laugenstange covered in seeds. For a very short time when it first opened, the Corner Bakery at Union Station in DC made excellent Laugenstange, now they are a waste of time for most anything. Here are two recipes for Laugen (in German)


      If I'm not mistaken, Laugen is the type of dough. Breze is the shape. Bretzlen is a diminutive of Breze. I once had a Reisenbreze at the Plaerrerfest in Augsburg. It was large, which was great for budget eating.

      1. Thank You Chew...now I need to learn to read German so I can figure out if these recipes tell me how to get that crisp coating. PROST !

        1. ok, now that i have found that it is Natrium Hydroxide that is the acid that makes the crisp coating, Na the atomic symbol which is also latin for "Sodium"..Is there a place (possibly a drug store) where I can purchase Sodium Hydroxide for this purpose. It is my understanding that I would only need approx. 15g to 30g per batch of 8 or so. The mixture of Sodium Hydroxide is approx. 3 to 4% for this purpose. Any further info would be appreciated.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Jimbosox04

            Perhaps you can use a potassium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate solution sold in Chinese food markets. It's also known as lye water. See picture in article link:


            I'm assuming you should dilute the solution before using it for your German pretzels. Good luck!

            1. re: Jimbosox04

              Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) is commonly known as lye. I think it's used in
              making hominy too. Maybe ask a pharmacist? It's a real common chemical
              but who knows what terrorist terror has done to its availability.

              1. re: Jimbosox04

                NaOH (sodium hydroxide) is not an acid but a base. I am not sure if you get food grade NaOH easily anywhere. (And I would make it very sure that the NaOH you are using is food grade). At least in Germany NaOH is available at some pharmacies.

                1. re: honkman

                  ok, I guess alot of this post that was on another board was not carried over. I did find NaOH3 and it is food grade. I do understand that it is a base, an extreme caustic which is still hazardous to the hands and face being that is it corrosive. it can be purchase at www.aaa-chemicals.com and a 4% dilution when baked at the temperature needed renders it very edible and not a problem.

              2. Use babelfish to translate the webpage. It's not perfect, but you can usually get the gist of what they're saying.
                I live in W├╝rzburg - it comes-in real hand, believe me!


                Good luck and Be Careful with the sodium hydroxcide!

                1. To follow up on this post it has been found that yes indeed it is Sodium Hydroxide that is used at a diluted level of a 4% solution..REMINDER..an extreme caustic is still hazardous to the eyes and hands..use gloves and goggles. Food Grade NaO3 can be purchased at www.aaa-chemicals.com If anyone is doubting that this is the solution used you can see at this other chemical ordering site .. the first line states "for use in making german style pretzels"


                  Unfortunately in the states if something is not used for a common use it raises many questions and for me, more knowledge of baking and cooking is always a plus

                  1. Look at this one !!! This should end the discussion and arguement that I have been chasing for a time. This was a lab that was done by Ohio State University Students, based on the browning of pretzels using different solutions and the results, read for yourselves.


                    Now I am a believer, if you have ever been to the Bavarian region of Germany you would understand why I am so passionate to figure this out. :-)

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Jimbosox04

                      NaOH pellets are used in every science classroom. I'd bet that if you print out the following .edu pretzel recipe, the neighborhood science teacher would give you the few pellets required.


                      Also, the OhioState link above somehow got truncated. Could you repost it?

                      NaOH is getting hard to purchase, because it is a stage in home-lab production of Crystal Meth.

                      Also note that lots of recipes use a simple aqueous sodium bicarbonate as the alkaline dipping medium. Does the OhioState article compare lye and baking soda?

                      1. re: FoodFuser

                        As a chemist I can tell you that you definitely don't want to use non food-grade NaOH from your neighborhood science teacher. Those NaOH pellets have small impurities you don't want to eat.

                        1. re: FoodFuser

                          Sorry it took so long for the reply, I haven't been to the site in a while, here is the link for the study that Ohio State did, and yes they compare Lye to Baking Soda, very interesting study. Also AAA Chemicals listed above does ship food grade lye.

                          add the http:// to this , everytime I try the link it truncates it


                          Let me know your thoughts on this

                      2. Hey there Jim. I realize this is almost a year old but I hope you get this .....do you have the English version of how to make Bavarian style pretzel's?? We are having an Oktoberfest birthday party for my son Anton turning 1 and you have to have Pretzel's to go with our Brat's from the German Pork Store and the Spaten and all the other Bavarian food that I will be making. I have been searching high and low on how to make the pretzels.............. Thanks for any info you can give me. Sue Ann

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ansky26

                          I am really sorry Sue Ann for not getting this post before your son's B-Day party. If you really want the "Real Deal" Pretzels, to be honest I still haven't figured them out myself. Here is a link to an authentic Bavarian Store in Madison, Wisconsin that get the pretzels imported from Munich and ships them partially baked and frozen to you. They are I think $12 a dozen + shipping but are well worth it. I have been ordering from them for years now and have not found another pretzel that is quite the same. I figure if they don't even make them themselves how the heck am I going to figure it out. Best of Luck to you and I hope you get these this Oktober for your little ones B-Day.


                          you may also like the landjager, like slim jims, but WAY better.

                        2. Its not impossible but you need to buy lye, sodium hydroxide, NaOH. You can order it online from AAA Chemicals. Be sure to buy the food grade. The best recipe I have found is in the baking and pastry cookbook put out by the Culinary Instititue of American. This is the real deal! If you are in Poughkeepsie stop by the CIA's Apple Pie Bakery. They make them there..just like Germany! Good luck


                            1. As others have said, the real ones are boiled in a lye solution, which is way more than a home baker is going to want to, nor should, do. Lye is nasty stuff, and having lived in Germany, I've seen plenty of bakers with ugly scars from the boiling lye splattering on them.

                              A reasonable, and much easier (and safer) approximation can be made with baking soda and water.

                              Also make sure that you're baking in a hot oven. A fairly wet dough, as well as a steam bath (squirt the walls of the oven with water 2-3 times during the first 1.5 minutes of cooking) can help with the crisp texture, but short of having a real lye bath and a commercial steam injection oven, you'll never get it 100%.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: aravenel

                                This entire thread is so awesome and fascinating, I am so thankful I was not able to find lye in the stores and blindly follow the pretzel recipe I got from a friend! I had no idea of the danger. Now I will try baking soda and water, but my question is, what is the "recipe" for the best soda & water solution that will yield the brownest, shiniest pretzel?