I come from southern Germany and have to admit that there are some things which I miss in Leipzig, regarding culinary things that I know from my home region. The food that is associated with the strongest emotions for me are the lye pastries: I have simply not found any good pretzels in Leipzig yet. If someone can give me a hint which bakery I could still try, please, please, PLEASE, write it in the comments! Until then I have found an emergency solution: I bake my own lye rolls, sticks and pretzels.

I know hardly anything better than homemade lye rolls freshly from the oven for breakfast. Yes, you have read correctly: For breakfast. Lye pastries are not that difficult to make and can be on the table in less than an hour if you prepared the dough the night before. I didn't dare to try it for a long time because I was afraid of the lye thing: This stuff sounded pretty complicated, and baking itself is sometimes difficult enough for me. But it's actually just one more step which isn't even very complicated. The rest is a simple yeast dough that you can prepare the evening before.
The sodium bicarbonate is available in Germany, e.g. from Kaiser, in small paper bags. Since I bought the sodium bicarbonate for the first time to make the lye pastry, I didn't know exactly where I could get it. But in the end it was very easy to find and not very expensive. You can find it in many supermarkets in the area where you buy everything for baked goods. Alternatively you can ask in the pharmacy.

You will need...

400 g flour (white wheat flour)
1/2 cube (7 g) fresh yeast
1 tbsp. sugar
a little bit lukewarm milk or water
1 tbsp. each fine and coarse salt
700 mL boiling water
25 g sodium bicarbonate
optionally, 1-2 tbsp. butter

With 400 g flour, I made one tray of mini pretzels or 5-6 "normal-sized" pretzels. You can also double the amount, it probably isn't much extra work. The first step is a very simple yeast dough: Crumble ½ cube of fresh yeast into a little bit of lukewarm milk or water and stir in 1 tablespoon of sugar. Leave this pre-dough in a warm place for 5-10 minutes until the yeast makes bubbles. The flour is mixed in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon salt. Form a little depression in the middle and add the yeast-milk-mixture. Then mix it with the flour and add some more warm water if needed. If you like, you can also melt and add 1 tbsp. butter, which gives the lye pastry that extra juiciness later on. The dough should now be kneaded firmly for a few minutes. Up to this point you can prepare the recipe the evening before if you want to serve the freshly baked rolls or pretzels for breakfast. In this case you put the dough in the fridge at this point and take it out the next morning. The dough must now be left in a warm place for at least 30 minutes until its volume has significantly increased.

Then knead the dough again briefly and form the desired pastries. For pretzels, I pull the dough into a very long, thin shape, which I then put into a pretzel form. The pastries can rest for a moment while the lye is being prepared. It is best to preheat the oven to 180°C now.

Now you need 25 g of sodium bicarbonate and 0.7 L of boiling water. The sodium bicarbonate dissolves very easily in the water, all you have to do is add it to the pot of boiling water. It is important to choose a pot with a small base, in which the dough pieces can be submerged. If you do not have such a pot, you can simply make more lye (in the same proportion of water : sodium bicarbonate). The pretzels are now cooked one after the other for 30 seconds each in the lye. They will swell up and a few will lose their pretzel shape. That's normal, I think you'll learn over time to shape them properly so that they keep their shape.

Place the cooked pastries on a baking tray with baking paper. Once all the pretzels have been bathed in the lye, sprinkle them with coarse salt and then place the baking tray in the oven. At 180°C it took about 20 minutes in my oven until they were brown and tasty. Considering pretzel pastry, however, you can argue about how crispy or soft they should be, so you should find out for yourself how long the pretzels have to be baked.

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