Ingredients for 1kg wheat flower:
1kg wheat flour (any type I find does its job) but if you by flour in China, there is mainly two types, for Baozi and jaozi.Use the baozi one
500 ml hand warm water
4 Teaspoon salt
5 Teaspoon Baking Powder
2-3 Teaspoon dry Yeast
2 teaspoons of Honey, Sugar or liquid Malt (I use a Malt drink from the corner shop) to activate the yeast
40g Lard (from Pork)if you are vegetarian you might want to try it with butter, margarine or some olive oil. It will taste different, the lard gives the pretzels a very particular flavour. I never tried it, let me know if it works!
coarse grain salt to sprinkle on top
Sodium Hydroxine (for the bathing) in Germany you can get the right solution of lye in a bakery or pharmacy, in China I couldn't find it. I finally ordered it on taobao, around 50元.
!!GLOVES!!- to deal with the strong lye, better wear gloves, possibly glasses. DON'T TOUCH IT! it will burn your skin. Use stainless steel or a glass bowl, no aluminium or plastics. BE CAREFUL!
Mix the water (warm but not hot) with the yeast and the Sugar. After a few minutes you should see some bubbles.
Then mix the flour, the lard, he yeast water and the baking powder and knead the dough for 4-5 minutes. Finally add the salt.
Knead for another 10-15 minutes until the dough is really smooth. This dough needs to be kneaded quite a long time, but it is important to get a good result. Depending on your flour, add flour or water to get a nice and smooth dough.
Then Cover the dough with a plastic bag or cling film and let it rest until it doubled in size. This might take 30-90 minutes, depending on your yeast and room temperature. In winter I place the bowl with the dough near the heater.
The Soda Lye:
Put on your gloves and glasses and take a glass, ceramic or stainless steel bowl with water, deep enough to dip the bread. Depending on the amount of water, add the Sodium Hydroxide crystals.Be
very careful. There is a certain concentration which is recommended, but I find adding 3-4 teaspoons of NaOH to one liter of water works fine for me. You can always adjust by adding more NaOH or
more water, and the time. I leave the bread in the lye until the surface looks soapy, which is around 5-10 seconds. You can keep the lye in a glass bottle and reuse it about 2-3 times.
You can pour it in the drain without concern. It will clean you drain as a nice side effect. The Lye is basically a strong soap, and there is no danger for the environment.
Shaping the Pretzels:
Once your dough has risen knead it again and divide it into parts of 70-90 g, dependent on how big you like your Pretzel. For parties I make 50 g ones, so they go a bit further. Under no circumstances shape them into balls. Roll them into 40 cm long strings, thick in the centre and thin at the end. Then shape them into Pretzels. cross the thin ends in the middle, twist them once, to make a knot, and press the ends firm into the thick part. Then take a stainless steel skimmer and bathe your Pretzel. Some people like them blonder, I prefer them darker, so I leave them quite long, until they look soapy. Place them on a baking paper on your baking tray. Then sprinkle salt on top and cut the thick part with a knife. (like a smiley)
Let your bread rest for another 10 minutes and then bake your Pretzels for 20-25 minutes, depending on your oven at 200°C. If you have space in your oven, you can put a bowl with boiling water on the bottom, to get a little bit of steam. Don't open the oven in between!
Now-Enjoy your authentic Swabian Pretzel!