More on pretzels

The BBGA guys are at it again – here’s more info about making pretzels from the discussion group:

Any wisdom regarding pretzels? Specifically, I’m stuck on keeping them from sticking to what I bake them on. I’ve done two test batches, one on a sheet tray with parchment paper and one on a rack on a sheet tray, and both batches had to be scraped off, sacrificing the bottoms of the pretzels. They came out great otherwise, but were unusable due to the lack of bottoms.
D’oh. After dipping them in the lye solution, they just seem to want to stick! Any advice? I might try baking them on silpat next, or greasing the bejeezus out of the rack or something.

5b. Re: pretzel question

At the bbga seminar in Calgary this summer, we used parchment sprayed with cooking spray and nothing stuck. My only other advice is we tried to let the pretzels drain a bit before putting them on the parchment. Nothing fancy, just avoiding puddles of lye solution.
My community work:
My bakery (a work in progress):

Mark, was there any discussion of how to dispose of lye at the Calgary  seminar?
Dean Mouscher SHB

We talked about it a little and the consensus was we could pour it down the drain. Same basic ingredient as Drano so it would keep your drains clear. I know on the longer thread about this there is concern with septic systems, but we were only talking about city sewer systems.

5e. Re: pretzel question

we bake ours on parchment paper — no spray — on perforated sheet trays and remove them when they come out of the oven. basically no problems. any disfigured ones, of course, end up in our stomachs.
daisy chow

5f. Re: pretzel question

we bake all of our pretzels items on silpain screens. silpat mats don’t allow enough bake on the bottoms of the pretzels. we bake them on drip screens as well, instead of sheet pans.
Jory Downer, CMB
Champion du Monde de la Boulangerie
Bread Bakers Guild Team USA 2005
Bennisons Bakery, Evanston, IL

5g. Re: pretzel question

Have been making pretzels for 40 years and never had any trouble using any of these methods:  Grease your pans real well with shortening, or the way we normally do it, is  using bees wax on the pan, that way you don’t have the pretzels being greasy. Hope this helps!
Rick Rickerman
Knoxville,  TN
Cheesecakes & Breads by Rick
Culinary Institute Instructor @ The Univ of TN

5h. Re: pretzel question

Rick, when you mix lye with fat you get soap. So I’ve been wondering about greasing the pan – you don’t find you get a soapy taste? Does anyone else grease their pans and find they don’t get a soapy taste?
Dean Mouscher SHB

1a. Making pretzels with laugenstark?

I came across a product sold by Abel & Schafer, apparently a German baking goods supplier, called laugenstark. It comes in 25 kilo bags. The short description is: “Improver for the production of typical German salt pretzels and similar products. Dosage: 5,5% of the flour quantity.”

Under “product advantages”  (, it says:

“. by using LAUGENSTARK, your pretzels and similar products will have the typical aromatic taste and consistency…”  Does this mean that I can mix this with flour and make credible pretzels without the lye bath? Or is it in addition to the lye bath? And what the heck is it? And is it available in the US? Any light shed on this would be much appreciated.
Dean Mouscher, SHB

1b. Re: Making pretzels with laugenstark?

I looked it up and could not find a description. What I do know is that “laugen” is German for lye, and “stark” means strong. I have feeling that you don’t put it in the dough.
John Oechsner
Art Institute of Atlanta

Hi John:
Try this page:
It describes Laugenstark as “Improver for the production of typical German salt pretzels and similar products. Dosage: 5,5% of the flour quantity.” Doesn’t that sound like something that would be added to the dough?

1d. Re: Making pretzels with laugenstark?

Hi Dean
You’re right, it is a dough additive. Unfortunately, I couldn’t read the ingredients from the picture of the bag. It does bring up another point though. I always thought that the lye bath was primarily for color and some flavor but did not do anything to the internal characteristics. I also would like to know if this stuff replaces the need for a lye bath, not that I plan on using it.
John Oechsner
Culinary Arts Instructor
Art Institute of Atlanta

1e. Re: Making pretzels with laugenstark?

Laugenstark is used for dipping the pretzel before baking.I got in touch with the New England Regional sales manager of Able & Schafer and asked him what it was and how it is used. It is not I repeat not a dough additive. It is called Sodium Hydroxide or Lye. They have it in stock for pretzel production.

Bryan Shohet

1f. Re: Making pretzels with laugenstark?

The lye is for color, the additive is a dough conditioner, 2 very different things.

1g. Re: Making pretzels with laugenstark?

Thanks Bryan for taking the trouble to ask your contact at Abel & Schafer. But I believe he is mistaken, for several reasons.
– The description very clearly says “Dosage: 5,5% of the flour quantity.” That wouldn’t make sense if this was sodium hydroxide.
– If you look at the picture of the bag it comes in, it is a typical 25 kg paper bag of the type flour typically comes in. It’s hard for me to believe they would be selling 25 kg of a dangerous chemical like sodium hydroxide packaged so casually.
– One of the sales points about this product is “Very high product safety.” If this was sodium hydroxide, they would never put this in print – to the contrary, there would be warnings up the wazoo.
Apparently Abel & Schafer North America does not carry this product. As far as I can tell it is only available through Abel & Schafer International.

2a. Re: pretzel question

No, there is no soap taste and haven’t blown any soap bubbles!  I just don’t like having the extra grease on the bottom of the pretzel, that is why we use bees wax most of the time.  My recipe is from wife’s side of the family, direct from Germany, hence, the use of bees wax.
Rick Rickerman CPA
Knoxville, TN
Cheesecakes & Breads by Rick
Culinary Institute Instructor @ The Univ of TN



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8 responses to “More on pretzels

  1. Hydrangea

    Place your bagel or pretzel recipes here in the comment section for all to see!

  2. Bill_the_Baker

    Lye is great for authentic german pretzel making! i had so much trouble finding anyone who sells it, then i found Essential Depot, they are the only place i go to for my lye! check them out

  3. Bill_the_Baker

    hey everyone, i have some good news! Essential Depot is offering the first 300 customers a very special deal of only $2.94 for 2 lbs. of High Quality Food Grade Sodium Hydroxide Lye Micro Beads. Grab yours today by clicking on this link:
    AND if you take advantage of this sale you will receive a promo code for a 20% discount on any of their essential oils!

  4. Bill_the_Baker

    Dont forget to check out Essential Depot ( ) they’re selling High quality food grade Lye, 2lb’s for 3.44 a very nice price!

  5. Bill_the_Baker

    hey everyone, back once again with yet another update! Essential Depot is giving out the discount code “EDPC10” worth a 10% discount on your total order cost – including shipping and handling!

  6. Bill_the_Baker

    hey guys and gals, i totally wanna share this great recipe, these pretzels came out so good! YUMMM!!

    2 envelopes dry yeast
    1 qt. milk, 2% is fine
    1/2 c. warm water
    3/4 c. shortening (I mix lard & butter & flavored Crisco)
    1/2 c. sugar
    1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
    12 c. all-purpose flour, unsifted
    1 1/2 tbsp. salt
    Coarse salt to sprinkle

    LYE DIP:

    2 level tbsp. lye
    2 quarts. cold water

    Soften yeast in 1/2 cup water. Scald milk. Stir in shortening. Cool . Add yeast with 6 cups flour. Beat, vigorously. Cover, sit in warm place until risen , this takes just about 30 minutes.

    Add remaining flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix until well blended. Turn out on smooth surface. Cover with moist towel 3 minutes. Knead until elastic. Put in big kettle. Cover with towel. Put in warm place and Let rise until it has doubled in size, usually takes 1 1/2 hours. Punch dough down and let stand for 10 minutes. Cut into quarters then Cut quarters into 12 pieces. Cover with towel. Roll each piece into long strip for twisting. Place on stainless steel baking sheet, then put one at a time, pretzels on slotted, stainless steel lifter, dip very briefly in lye, usually a 3-5 second bath, drain on lifter and place back on sheet. As soon as cookie sheet is full, sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake in 400 degree oven until brown, about 15 minutes. Place on dry towel to cool. Cover twisted pretzels with towel until half raised.

    IMPORTANT: Lye creates a volotile reaction with aluminum! aluminum sheets or dipping tool CANNOT BE USED. Also, I spray sheets with Pam, so there is no sticking.

  7. Bill_the_Baker

    If you have any comments or suggestions about the above recipe let me know! id be gllad to hear new ideas or suggestions for a better recipe!

  8. ymscoyle

    I understand that I can’t use aluminum cookie sheets for baking pretzels that have been dipped in lye. I would love to know what people use as an alternative. Do I need to purchase stainless steel sheets? Thanks for any and all info!

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