Minneapolis young gun Jamie Malone, who plans to open the highly anticipated Brut restaurant this coming fall, devised "the pretzel treatment" while dreaming up bar snacks as head chef of Sea Change. To get a distinct pretzel flavor and mahogany color, she uses a lye solution, brushing gougères and crackers, and dunking cinnamon buns. To do it, sprinkle 42 grams of food-grade lye into 1,000 grams of water in a large nonreactive bowl, and gently whisk together until the lye dissolves. Lightly brush the tops of floppier doughs, like pretzels, before putting them in the oven. For sturdier items, such as buns, dunk them in the solution for 10–15 seconds and shake off before baking. Since lye is an alkali, be sure to wear gloves and goggles, and don't breathe in too deeply. The alkali is neutralized when it's cooked, so treated goods are safe to eat.
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