Chewy and soft, these sourdough pretzels are the real deal. Equally delicious with mustard, cheese, and beer, they have that unmistakable pretzel flavor and deep color.
- 10g ripe sourdough starter, 100% hydration
- 51g all-purpose flour
- 51g whole wheat flour
- 102g water
- 635g high-protein flour (“bread” flour)
- 120g all-purpose flour
- 369g water
- 17g fine sea salt
- 60g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3g diastatic malt powder
- 940g cool water
- 38g food-grade lye
- coarse pretzel salt
- Levain (9:00 p.m.)
In a small bowl or jar, mix the Levain ingredients. Cover the jar and keep it at a warm temperature for 12 hours.
- Mix (9:00 a.m., next day)
Add the flour, water, salt, softened butter, diastatic malt powder, and levain to the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on speed 1 for 2 to 3 minutes until all of the ingredients are incorporated. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes. Continue to mix on speed 2 for 4-6 additional minutes until the dough becomes smooth and cohesive—an improved mix.
- Bulk fermentation (9:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.)
Give the dough one set of stretch and folds after the first hour of bulk fermentation. Return the dough to the bulk container and let rest until time to divide.
- Divide and preshape (12:45 p.m.)
Because the dough is low hydration, keep it covered at all times. Divide the dough into twelve 115 gram rectangular pieces. Preshape each rectangle into a tapered cigar shape. Let the pieces rest 15 minutes covered with plastic.
- Shape (1:00 p.m.)
Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper. Starting with the piece preshaped first, place the cigar in front of you so the tips are at your sides. Begin with your hands slightly overlapping in the middle, press down and roll the dough back and forth away from and then toward your body. As you are rolling, start to move your hands outward to encourage the tube to spread out and become increasingly thin as you move from the center out to the tips. You want to keep an exaggerated bulge in the very center of this rope, this will be the part you later score to open in the oven. Grab the two tips and arrange the dough so it loops away from you. Take one tip and fold it over the other side . Switch your hands so your right hand is holding the new right tip and your left is holding the new left tip. Fold the same side over the other as previously. Grab the two tips and fold them up over the knot in the middle and place each tip on its corresponding side inside the loop. It looks nice to have a little overlap with each tip — gently press it down into the side to seal.
- Proof (1:15 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.)
Let the dough proof on the counter at room temperature for 30 minutes, uncovered. Then, transfer the uncovered baking sheets holding your pretzels to the fridge for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Lye bath (2:45 p.m.)
Place two racks in your oven, one at the bottom and one in the top third. Preheat your oven to 450°F (230°C) convection (475°F (245°C) without convection). While wearing long latex or rubber gloves, add 940g cool water to a stainless steel bowl. To the water, add 38g food-grade lye while mixing with a stainless steel whisk or large spoon. The mixture will initially be cloudy, keep stirring until all the powder/pellets are dissolved. With gloves, pick up one shaped pretzel and transfer it to the lye bath and let sit for 15-20 seconds. Transfer to the cooling rack on top of the parchment paper inside a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough pieces. Once all the pretzel have been dipped, carefully flush the remaining lye solution down the toilet.
- Bake (3:00 p.m.)
Score each pretzel with the razor blade and sprinkle on pretzel salt. Bake at 450°F (230°C) for 10 minutes. Rotate the pans back to front and top to bottom, turn the oven down to 425°C (220°C) and bake for 8-12 minutes longer until a deep brown color. Remove from the oven and let cool. Enjoy warm from the oven.
- For the lye bath, you will need a stainless steel bowl, stainless steel cooling rack, and pair of rubber gloves.