Jeff Renner has a classic pretzel recipe that he's posted through the years. Jeff is a pro baker, so you KNOW it's gonna be good!
Jeff Renner’s pretzel recipe
From an old Homebrew Digest:
This recipe works well in a large mixer or food processor, and I have
formatted the recipe for this (see note for hand).
German Soft Pretzels
Makes 1 dozen
o 2 packets dry baker’s yeast
o 1/4 cup water 105-115 degrees F (40-45C)
o 1 ounce dry milk powder
o 3 ounces shortening
o 1/4 cup sugar
o 1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
o 19 ounces all purpose flour (about 4 cups)
o enough additional water to make a soft dough – about 1 cup (note -
my notes say 3/4 cup, but I think this is a mistake – I’ll make up a
batch sometime soon and check).
Rehydrate the yeast in the 1/4 cup warm water and a pinch of sugar.
Be sure to use a container like a plastic cup that won’t suck all the
heat away. It should foam up in a few minutes.
Mix the rest of the dry ingredients in the mixer bowl or food
processor *. Add the yeast water when it’s well hydrated and foamy,
then turn on the mixer or processor and add water until you get a
soft dough. Continue mixing according to manufacturer’s instructions
until well kneaded.
* If you make the dough by hand, add the rehydrated yeast and other
ingredients with half the flour to a large bowl, stir with a wooden
spoon until mixed, then stir in as much of the rest of the flour as
possible, then turn out onto a work surface and knead in enough of
the rest of the flour to get a soft dough and knead it until it is
elastic and smooth, about five minutes.
Let the dough rise covered until doubled, probably 30 minutes with
all this yeast.
Now prepare the lye water. Put cold water in a non-reactive pot, add
1 tablespoon lye crystals (like Red Devil) for each quart. Add the
lye to the water, not the other way around! Use normal precautions.
You’re big boys and girls. Bring to a simmer.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
When the dough is doubled, divide into 12 equal pieces, roll out into
18″ lengths, then twist into pretzel shape. This is easy to do but
hard to describe with pictures.
Start with the dough in an upside-down “U”, then cross the legs twice
into a double twist. Next flip the top down over the legs and press
each part of the loop onto the legs where they cross, making a tack
Set aside on a towel and shape the rest of the pieces. Then starting
with the first one and using a slotted ladle or spatula (not your
fingers), immerse each pretzel in the simmering lye water for 30
seconds to one minute. They should expand and begin to float.
Remove it and place on a wet tea-towel to drain and sprinkle with
Now arrange on prepared cookie sheet (you will probably need to use
two cookie sheets and bake one at a time) and bake until done. In my
oven, this takes about 9 minutes. While they are cooling a bit, pour
yourself a well deserved pint and then enjoy the pretzels.
These freeze quite well when cool. Thaw them and pop them into the
oven to reheat or gently microwave them if you must.
Jeff Renner in Ann Arbor, Michigan USA