Pretzels are a baked item made from a very stiff dough containing flour, shortening, malt, yeast, salt and sodium bicarbonate. Intricate machinery is used to make the classic twist pretzels from cut lengths of dough. Today many twist pretzels are extruded. Multiple sets of individually controlled augers force the dough through a die where the exiting dough is cut by wires. The pretzel receives its characteristic glaze and dark brown color as the result of a caustic dip. Before baking the raw, shaped pretzels are conveyed through a hot, 200°F, sodium hydroxide bath (0.51.25%) for about 10-15 s (15). The dipped pretzels are immediately sprinkled with enough salt so that about 2% remains on the finished product. Baking ovens vary considerably. In the United States many companies use a two-pass oven. In the first pass pretzels are baked at 425-475°F for about 5 min. At the end of the first pass the pretzels, now at 15% water, are removed from the baking belt with a doctor blade. A second belt returns the pretzels under the baking zone to dry them down to approximately 2% water.

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