Swiss Bakery – Vancouver, BC

Swiss Bakery
143 3rd Avenue East
Vancouver, BC
(604) 736-8785

Swiss Bakery on Urbanspoon


Someone once asked me if I knew of a place that sold authentic German style pretzels. At the time I didn’t know of any place in town…and not being an aficionado myself,  I asked around. A colleague of German descent told me about an relatively unremarkable bakery in an industrial zone just off the South Main district in Vancouver. They serve, he told me, the closest thing to a German pretzel that you can get in Vancouver.

Indeed they look interesting. These pretzels have what looks like a dark caramelized crust.


The pretzel-making process is very similar to making bagels: after a rising the dough, raw bagel dough is first boiled in water sweetened with honey or maltose for about a minute prior to baking.  The sugars from the sweet solution caramelize and give bagels their crunchy-chewy outer skin.

The pretzel, however, gets its colour from a lye water bath. The chemistry is unclear to me…the starches and proteins of the outer surface of the dough are somehow changed by this alkaline solution so that it bakes to a deep mahogany brown. The results should be crackling crunchy, but not sweet like the a bagel’s crust.

The pretzels today were not as crunchy as ones I had previously purchased a couple of months back. We have been having some moist and foggy weather of late…perhaps this moist air contributed to this chewiness.

While their pretzels seem to be their specialty, Swiss Bakery have some other worthy items for sale. They also sell decent crusty hearth breads (their Cranberry and Walnut Bread has become a family favorite – excellent toasted,  buttered and served with a sharp cheddar)….in case you aren’t a pretzel aficionado.

Swiss Bakery on Urbanspoon

7 thoughts on “Swiss Bakery – Vancouver, BC

  1. Pretzels are a regular item in my kitchen, as I bake bread and goodies almost daily, and I’ve always been tempted to try the lye dip. The whole caustic procedure + rubber gloves and goggles in the kitchen = adds up in my mind to some nervous moments. I’ve had success dipping in water mixed with baking soda (something I picked up from Alton Brown); although, many times I just give the pretzels a decent little egg wash, top with seeds and enjoy.

    I have to agree with H.Peter; that is one good looking pretzel.

  2. > raidar

    A tip about lye – I find the “Lye Water” that you can buy at Filipino, Chinese, or Latin American stores easy to use since it is already pre-diluted….no messing with that highly caustic powdered NaOH. If you do spill lye water on you skin, no worries…you will feel a slight sensation of soapiness – just wash it off.

    I haven’t used lye water for pretzels…I have used it on some Asian dishes (Filipino and Vietnamese rice water dumplings, etc.)

  3. Thanks for the heads up. I’ll have to look into next time I’m at T&T.

    I have always pictured a very Tyler Durden ‘Fight Club’ moment if something went wrong.

  4. Thanks for the tip.

    I dropped by today, but unfortunately they were already sold out of the pretzels. They did however still have some of the little round ones left and it was very good. I’ve never had pretzels shaped like these before. Very interesting and a great option if you don’t need a whole pretzel. It has a nice salty taste outside, with a soft chewy interior.

    The fruit and walnut bread is also good. It almost beats out my favourite fig and anise bread from Terra Breads. I’ve already had 2 slices and am just barely holding back from having more.

    There swiss pastries also look yummy. Especially their danishes. I will try these next time.

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