June 28, 2022

We produced pretzels and talked about about pH and the aim alkaline treatments play in our meals on the Calgary Eyeopener this week.

Chewy baked pretzels are historically dipped in a treatment of three to 4 per cent food-quality lye proper earlier than baking to drastically improve the Maillard response, which is chargeable for that deep mahogany color and further subtle flavours.

At dwelling, a way more fashionable methodology is to make use of baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, a weaker alkali. However whereas executing some examine, I arrived throughout a 12-12 months-old story within the New York Conditions that talked about baking your baking soda 1st.

You do it by spreading it out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and baking it at 250-300 F for about an hour. The heat transforms the sodium bicarbonate to sodium carbonate, which is a extra strong alkali you possibly can then remodel right into a dipping various (about ½ cup sodium carbonate to 2 cups ingesting water) that’s nearer to lye. 

Calgary Eyeopener7:11Julie van Rosendaal on pretzels

Our meals tutorial Julie van Rosendaal on the science driving the very best pretzel. 7:11

Although it may be easy to find out acidic parts like vinegar, lemon juice and buttermilk, it may be trickier to really feel of alkaline parts. Baking soda is possibly essentially the most prevalent. It’s sodium bicarbonate — a crystalline salt that works with acidic parts in a recipe to make the carbon dioxide bubbles that permit your baked items to rise.

Alkalis are utilized in completely different strategies within the kitchen and in foodstuff manufacturing. Sodium carbonate can be known as jian, a key element in wheat noodles that may make them springy, slippery and generally offers them a yellow color. The plan of action of nixtamalization requires soaking and cooking maize (corn) in an alkaline answer to make it much more merely floor and the diet extra very simply obtainable.

See also  Listed below are two scrumptious and wholesome potato based mostly recipes

Alkaline treatments are chargeable for the further-darkish, nearly black cocoa in Oreo cookies, and a few of these simple, buttery olives. And many individuals right this moment are acquainted with the darkish colour and somewhat metallic tang of chewy pretzels, that are dipped in an alkaline various (most frequently meals items-quality lye) proper earlier than baking. 

Sprinkle your pretzels with coarse or flaky salt despite the fact that they’re nonetheless moist. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

Selfmade Pretzels

Pretzels get their signature darkish color, barely metallic flavour and chewy-leathery exterior from remaining dipped in an answer of h2o and foods-quality lye, a robust alkaline element.

Within the kitchen space, baking soda is significantly much more frequent, however it’s a weaker alkali, so is not going to ship pretty as exceptional an affect. However for those who bake the baking soda itself to begin with — at 250-300 F for about an hour — it transforms from sodium bicarbonate to sodium carbonate, and is a further highly effective substitute for lye. 

Boiling with frequent baking soda 1st will develop a scrumptious pretzel with the feel of a clean breadstick, however dipping in a baked baking soda reply will produce an additional color and way more pretzel-like flavour.

Undergo far more concerning the chemistry on the rear of baked soda, and its different culinary apps.



  • 1 cup heat water or milk
  • 2 tsp energetic dry, quick or fast-mounting yeast
  • 2½-2¾ cups all-intent flour
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar 
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil or melted butter (or a mixture)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup baking soda or baked baking soda, for boiling or dipping
  • flaky salt, for sprinkling

Put the h2o or milk into a big bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer, if in case you have a dough hook) and sprinkle the yeast overtop. Allow it sit for a handful of minutes, then stir to dissolve.

For those who’re not constructive of the age of your yeast and are apprehensive it might be inactive, let it sit for 10-Quarter-hour, or till it begins off to bubble and foam. If it does nothing in any respect, it might be inactive and you possibly can require new yeast.

Embody 2½ cups of the flour together with the sugar, oil and salt and stir till the dough will come alongside each other. Proceed to knead, incorporating extra flour as desired (working with the dough hook in your stand mixer, or turning it out onto the countertop) till lastly modern and elastic. Permit it sit for 10-Quarter-hour to permit the gluten relaxation. 

Within the meantime, preheat your oven to 400 F and presumably convey a pot of 8 cups ingesting water and ½ cup baking soda to a boil, or make a reply of two cups h2o and ½ cup baked baking soda in a shallow baking dish, and fill an additional bowl or baking dish with plain h2o. Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil or a silicone liner. 

Slash the dough into 8 items and roll every right into a prolonged rope — about 20-22 inches prolonged — then type right into a pretzel. In case you have a boiling h2o reply, boil 2 pretzels at a time for no for an extended interval than 30 seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon and place in your baking sheet.

For those who’re using the baked baking soda reply, dip each pretzel into the decision and permit it sit for 30 to 60 seconds, then dip in primary h2o to rinse the additional decision off and spot in your baking sheet. The dough will get clean and stretchy — don’t stress! Go quickly they usually’ll flip out nice!

Sprinkle your pretzels with coarse or flaky salt when they’re proceed to moist, and bake for 10 to fifteen minutes, until deep golden.

Could make 8 pretzels.