Pretzel’s are amazing: fact! German bakeries are amazing: also fact! I was reminded of these two facts on my recent jaunt to Berlin at the weekend. In a country where an appreticeship to become a Konditor (or confectioner) can last up to three years, with a further 12 months to become a Mesiterkonditor (master confectioner), how can the produce from German bakeries not be amazing?
My task this week is to investigate a few of the most well know German baked goods and share my successful recipes (if there are any!) here with you.
My weekend in Germany enabled me to reignite my passion for one of my favourite German products: the simple retzel (or Brezel in German). Although in the UK pretzels are typically hard, crisp like snacks, in Germany they take many forms. The most common is the Laugenbrezel (pictured below). It is usually a bread product made from flour, water and yeast and glazed with egg wash before being sprinkled with coarse salt.
A Laugenbrezel is typically dipped in a lye (Laugen) solution before baking. This gives it the rich, dark colour and distinctive taste. Supposedly this practice was discovered entirely accidentally when a baker dropped a tray of pretzels into lye solution which was used for cleaning his kitchen. After baking the pretzels, he discovered that it gave them an improved colour and flavour.
Lye or caustic soda is not something I typically use in cleaning so finding the correct type of lye and the correct type for use in food (and not the type for use in soap!) will be this week’s challenge. I’m sure it’s also not particularly safe to work with but I’ll keep you updated on my progress and will be sure to post photos of my triumphs (and fails!).
The one thing I would absolutely love to make would be chocolate covered pretzels which are admittedly nothing like their German counterparts. I think I’ll stick to the lye pretzels just now but if anyone knows where to find chocolate covered pretzels, do let me know! I have a husband who would love to know!