This recipe uses food grade lye which can be dangerous to your health when not handled properly. Please make sure all children, small animals, and distracting husbands and friends are not in immediate area when working. Please read and understand the dangers of lye prior to proceeding. I do not take any responsibility for any injuries incurred while following this recipe. This recipe produces a 3% lye solution which is considered caustic and will burn when in contact with skin. Lye can be neutralized with vinegar so please have that on hand in an accessible area in case a spill or injuries happen. Please follow your city/state/local regulations on disposing the used lye water.
I personally read the recipe through and through multiple times and sacrified a pretzel in a water bath to anticipate how much splashing there would be. If you are an expert chopstick user, I found that using plastic chopsticks to handle the pretzel-lye bath step was the easiest and resulted in no splashing.
Now that you’ve been fore-warned, here is the recipe:
4 1/4 c. bread flour
2 T butter
1 t kosher salt
1 c warm water
1 T yeast
2 t sugar
1/4 c warm water
1/2 ounce food grade lye
1/2 liter water
Additional salt for pretzels
Proof the yeast and mix the dough ingredients together for 5 minutes with a dough hook on low speed. The dough should form into a firm ball. Let the dough rest 5 minutes and then mix in the butter. Let the hook work the butter in for 5 minutes on medium speed. Cover and let the dough rise for an hour in a warm place.
While dough is rising, make the lye water bath by mixing the lye into the water. Please take all precautions to wear long sleeved clothing, gloves and safety goggles since lye will burn when coming in contact to skin. When working with lye, do not let it come in contact with metal, use only plastic or glass bowls and use only plastic utensils.
Cut the dough in 12 pieces and roll out to form pretzel shapes. Let it rest for 15 minutes to an hour to dry it. It makes handling it in the lye bath a bit easier. Dip into the lye bath for 30 seconds and place onto prepared baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Sprinkle with extra salt and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.