Sunday, August 15, 2010


I forgot to take pictures when these were fresh out of the oven, so they look a little soggy here, nonetheless I wanted to share with you my first ever attempt at cooking with lye, the key ingredient in giving pretzels and pretzel buns their unique, chewy, delicious, brown skin.

It's hard to tell, but the ones on the left are the pretzels. I didn't roll out the dough into a long enough rope so after they had sat for a bit the nice pretzel shape closed over and they came out of the oven looking like pretzels that have over-eaten. No matter as they were supper yummy. Yes, super yummy! I topped some of them with salt and some with a salt caraway mixture.

It's very scary using lye; I wore an old chef's jacket, long pants, socks, real shoes (as opposed to my usual flip flops) and my reading glasses (they say goggles!). It's like you're doing some dangerous experiment in a sci-fi movie. Luckily the lye didn't burn through my counter top or spill and horribly disfigure me.

It did however take the nice sheen off my cookie sheets. You have to wonder how something so caustic can be rendered so harmless and delicious.

I remember the first time Maury Rubin told me about how he came to making his genius pretzel croissants and it all sounded so dangerous and unnatural.

Anyway, I'm proof that you can use lye and survive and that the results are truly spectacular! I will make them again. And of course because I was distracted I forgot to take pictures because I made the pretzels exclusively to have with my Obatzda! Which I made with a local Camembert cheese (1/2 pound and 3-4 T butter, 1/2 teaspoon of smoked Paprika and 1/2 teaspoon of sweet Paprika mixed all up in my Kitchen Aid!) I served it with chopped pickled onions and spears of French Breakfast Radishes.

I used the Pretzel recipe from Zingerman's as published in the NYT.

And as a side note, I cubed some left over stale pretzel buns, tossed them with garlic oil and toasted them in the oven and they made awesome croutons for tonight's Cesar salad!

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