Bavarian traditional grilled pork sausages on ceramic plate served with german sweet mustard, mug of dark beer and pretzels bread on white and blue napkin over wooden background. Flat lay, space. (Photo by: Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
The Safe, Secret Ingredient To Elevate Homemade Bavarian Soft Pretzels
By Chase Shustack
Simply put, a soft pretzel is strikingly similar to bread dough that's been tied into a distinct shape, baked until golden brown, and topped with salt. One of the most popular varieties is the Bavarian soft pretzel, with its crunchy exterior and soft interior, and there’s one secret ingredient that you should be using when making them.
The unique flavor in pretzels comes from the pretzel being washed in an alkaline solution, such as baking soda, before being baked, which reacts with the dough and gives it an airy texture and a crispy crust. Lye is often used when making pretzels, but it can be dangerous if used in the wrong hands, so baking soda is a much safer alternative.
To give the pretzels that traditionally rich Bavarian pretzel flavor, Food & Wine recommends baking your baking soda before adding it to your mixture to heighten its properties even more. The New York Times offers similar advice, explaining that "baked" baking soda is also a key ingredient in dishes such as Chinese alkaline noodles.