Big Oktoberfest Pretzels

I've loved Pretzels since I was a small kid. After spending some time in Bavaria, I realized that there are subtle differences between Bavarian and Swabian Pretzels - the Pretzel arms are thicker and sit higher on the Bavarian Pretzels, the Swabian Pretzels have a bigger "belly" that is cut open so that there is a well-defined white spot on them while the Bavarian Pretzels just burst at some random place. ;-) My big Oktoberfest Pretzels are Bavarian Pretzels. You could tell, right? Concerning the lye, there are heated discussions online whether sodium hydroxide (NaOH) or sodium carbonate solution(Na2CO3) is better to use. I tried both, but the big Oktoberfest Pretzels can only be made with sodium hydroxide, as you need to boil the pretzel for a bit in the sodium carbonate solution and that won't work for Pretzels this size. For normal-sized Pretzels, it works well, see below. For these Pretzels, I used light spelt flour (type 630), which is similar as wheat flour type 550. From this amount of dough, you can make 16 normal-sized pretzels instead of the 4 Oktoberfest Pretzels, or one Pretzel Basket!

Ingredients for 4 Pretzels (1,6 kg dough):
1 kg flour
2 P. dry yeast(14 g)
500 ml water
100 g butter
1 TSP salt
1 Liter water and 3 TBSP baking soda

coarse salt to sprinkle 
rubber gloves or skimmer

Energy: 1035 kcal per Pretzel

Put flour, yeast, water and salt into the bowl of the kitchen machine and let it knead. While it's kneading, soften the butter a bit in the microwave and add it to the mix. 
Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for about 30 minutes.

Line two baking trays with baking paper. Knead through the dough, then cut it to four pieces and roll each piece to a long strand. 

Put on the rubber gloves, dip the entire strand into the sodium hydroxide lye and immediately sling it to a Pretzel shape on the baking tray. From the lye, the strand gets very slippery, sticky and soft, so you have to work quickly. Sprinkle the Pretzel with salt and bake it alone or together with a second Pretzel on the second tray for 20-25 minutes at 170°C with convection. 

For this (my first) big Pretzel, I only brushed the already slung Pretzel on the baking tray with the lye, and that didn't produce the desired effect - thus I changed the process! Also, the strand was too short and the whole Pretzel too small and too fat. Poor fat Pretzel! ;-)

If you want to bake Pretzels without sodium hydroxide, you have to make smaller ones. Form normal-sized Pretzels or rolls (this dough yields 15-16 normal pretzels) and set 1 Liter water to boil. Add the 3 TBSP sodium carbonate and boil again. Make sure you do not get confused and boil the sodium hydroxide!!
Put the Pretzels into the pot one by one, let them boil for 30-60 seconds, removed them with a skimmer and set them directly onto the prepared baking tray. 
Bake the Pretzels 20-25 minutes at 170°C with convection or at 180°C upper/lower heat. 

I made my first Pretzels (from whole grain spelt flour and with milk instead of water) 

 and these Mini-Doctor's Hats (from wheat flour, type 405) that way. 

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