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Old 03-07-2020, 12:20 PM   #1
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M.Ed. - Research on Learning: Pretzel Making

Hello Everyone,
My name is Russell V. Rittenhouse and I am a 54-year-old working at Alfred State College in Alfred, NY. I am an instructional support Associate and Adjunct professor. I am pursuing my master's in education in Education Technology.

My current research is in learning how to do pretzel making. I am looking on any instruction for pretzel making.

I am looking forward to discussing cooking with you.

Sincerely,
Russell

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Old 03-07-2020, 02:19 PM   #2
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Welcome to Discuss Cooking Russell.

I'll share with you a little of what I know about it. I'm assuming you are talking about the large bread-like soft pretzels and not the thin crisp snack types.

A bit of the history. Legend holds that when Monks were in prayer vigils in their Monasteries they may have been fasting during Lent or Easter. Their religion forbid consumption of certain animal products as or incorporated in foods in these times around 600 AD.

A very basic bread dough was commonly rolled into long ropes to be baked as a snack. The Monks prayed while bent over with their arms crossed before their chest and palms of their hands resting on their shoulders. Somehow the idea evolved to loop these ropes of dough, twist the two ends together leaving just enough end length to fold the twist into the center of the loop with the two end lengths positioned on the back of the loop. These would then be baked. This abstract image would resemble a Monk in prayer. It has evolved as a religious icon since and has even been distributed among the poor in times of hardship.

The pretzel's origins may have occurred in northern Italy, southern France, or southern Germany. It was common to salt the pretzels and mustard may have been a standard condiment to accompany them.

Today these may be leavened with yeast or baking powder. Once the pretzels are made they may rise for awhile and then be dipped into boiling water for a minute. From there they would be salted and go into the oven to bake and become browned.

This process isn't much different than making Bagels. Bagels differ in the technique by which they are rolled so that the ends join together thus making a circle.
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Old 03-07-2020, 03:51 PM   #3
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Hello RCJoe,

Thank you for the history lesson. It is appreciated! :)

Sincerely,
Russell V. Rittenhouse
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Old 03-08-2020, 11:47 PM   #4
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Welcome to DC! I posted a response to technique re: pretzels in response to your other post. The mention of yukone is how I get the texture I like for bagels. I don't recall my acquaintance boiling the pretzels, but I didn't often visit her in the kitchen until the pretzels were in the oven.Oh--she used to add her homemade Dijon-like mustard to her dough. I am guessing she made a yukone and added it then...not sure because her pretzels were gluten free. I recently made bagels using a yukone and added honey to the water to get the exterior texture I like (a friend uses barley syrup/malt). I would experiment … do half a batch where you boil them in water, half that you don't. Spritz half, don't spritz the other half of the batch...time to order some pretzel salt! When I think of these kinds of pretzels, I think of Munich...
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Old 03-09-2020, 02:50 PM   #5
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After I purchased a Bread Machine, the next year (early 90's-pre-internet era) I was given a Bagel Machine. Mine came with a video tape with a lot of detailed information and mentioned soft pretzels if I remember right. The dough would be made in the bread machine, rolled to form the bagels then the bagel machine did the rest.

I think the hot water step for pretzels mentioned adding baking soda to the water and use the machine's metal spatula to float the pretzels in that hot water bath for a minute. I've since learned that food grade lye is used by commercial bakers to achieve the results they desire. (if you wanted to try this outdoors, where it would be safer, wear protective equipment as the lye is much stronger than baking soda)

What this does for commercial bakers is to caramelize the outer surface of the pretzel so it will be chewier and bake to that dark brown color. The center of the pretzel may also be more dense and chewy. At home the pretzels will be lighter in color and texture as baking soda is not as strong as lye.

If I were to try this using food grade lye, I'd use the plastic spatula, and a wooden draining rack on a surface that wouldn't be harmed by the lye.
Then these would be salted and then baked to that characteristic color.

Where the pretzel differs from the bagel is the hot water for the bagel has malt syrup and even sugar added to it. Both pretzels and bagels sit in the hot water for about a minute. I don't remember the exact amounts of these additives that went into the water though.

When I showed this Bagel Machine to friends, they thought it was a deep fryer. It looked like an over grown bread machine. The handle which extended out from under the lid served as a large spatula for dipping the 4 bagels into the hot water bath and then served as the baking rack. (or pretzels if you wanted to make those) Then the hot water was drained and the chamber became an oven for baking. It was kind of a novelty gift and they weren't on the market too long as I remember but still are available today on eBay.

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Old 03-09-2020, 03:21 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by CWS4322 View Post
Welcome to DC! I posted a response to technique re: pretzels in response to your other post...
Hi and welcome to Discuss Cooking

Speaking of your other post, it's not necessary to post the same question in two different places. All new posts are displayed at the top of the main page, and members can use the New Posts link to see just those.

Sounds like you're getting good advice. Let us know how it goes.
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Old 03-09-2020, 03:35 PM   #7
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the yummiest pretzels are done with a lye-solution boil. a lot of people freak out over using lye 'because as we all know, it's dangerous'
it's the alkaline boil that provides the super thin brown crust when baked.
baking soda is used as a substitute.

if you want to learn pretzels, cast about for a non-paid internship in a Munich area bakery. this one I picked up at a local shop enroute to the airport to fly home....
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Old 03-09-2020, 05:30 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by dcSaute View Post
the yummiest pretzels are done with a lye-solution boil. a lot of people freak out over using lye 'because as we all know, it's dangerous'
it's the alkaline boil that provides the super thin brown crust when baked.
baking soda is used as a substitute.

if you want to learn pretzels, cast about for a non-paid internship in a Munich area bakery. this one I picked up at a local shop enroute to the airport to fly home....
Attachment 39619
Dangerous...those of us who grew up in Scandinavian homes were exposed to lutefisk--definitely LYE is part of that.
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Old 03-09-2020, 07:26 PM   #9
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Dangerous...those of us who grew up in Scandinavian homes were exposed to lutefisk--definitely LYE is part of that.
Speak for yourself. There was never any lutfisk or ludfisk at my house.
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Old 03-09-2020, 10:33 PM   #10
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Speak for yourself. There was never any lutfisk or ludfisk at my house.
K=Lucky you--guessing the local churches don't do lutefisk and meatball suppers starting in November, either. I am just glad my Dad has agreed to pies for my Mom's memorial and not lutefisk! Although, I got a couple of cousins who would snarf it up if was prepared "proper." I would definitely be in the meatball line.
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Old 03-09-2020, 11:07 PM   #11
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K=Lucky you--guessing the local churches don't do lutefisk and meatball suppers starting in November, either. I am just glad my Dad has agreed to pies for my Mom's memorial and not lutefisk! Although, I got a couple of cousins who would snarf it up if was prepared "proper." I would definitely be in the meatball line.
There weren't very many other Scandinavians living near us. The Scandinavian events I went to were mostly Swedish and they had to round up Swedes from all over Greater L.A. to have a decent size event. That was one or twice a year.
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