The pretzel is the most famous German pastry par excellence – whether at festivals, for the so-called “Brotzeit” or as a delicious snack on the go – the pretzel has long had its fans even beyond German borders.
But who invented the pretzel?
In relation to the origin of the pretzel exist many legends. According to one legend, the pretzel shape was invented by a monk in the year 610. He was inspired by the arms of his confreres crossed in prayer. Apart from this, there is a multitude of legends and tales surrounding the pretzel. We have chosen the two most famous:
In the Swabian version of the legend, the court baker of Grad Eberhard V Frieder from Bad Urach was the inventor of the pretzel. In 1477 he fell out of favor with his count and was sentenced to death. However, the degree gave him one last chance: if Frieder managed to bake a loaf of bread through which the sun shines, his life would be spared.
The baker had three days to comply with this request.
His wife, who watched him impatiently with folded arms, inspired him to form the pretzel. The finished dough was dipped in a bucket of lye by a misfortune caused by the baker’s cat. Due to time pressure, poor Frieder had no more opportunity to make new dough, so he used this one. The result was the pretzel, which saved his life.
In the Bavarian version, the baker Anton Nepomuk Pfannenbrenner is also said to have invented the pretzel on February 11, 1839, more unintentionally than intentionally. Instead of dipping the dough pieces in sugar water as usual, they ended up in lye. Without correcting the accident, the finished baked goods ended up in the hands of Wilhelm Eugen von Ursingen, Royal Württemberg envoy to the Bavarian court, who enjoyed them for breakfast.
It remains open which of the versions corresponds to the truth. But one thing we can say with certainty:
Our recipe is one of the best that you can try at home to go among the pretzel bakers themselves.
Good luck and bon appétit!
- 1 kg Wheat flour Typ 550
- 5 g Fresh yeast for baking
- 20 g Baking malt
- 10 g Salt
- 500 ml ice cold water
- 20 g soft butter
- Pretzel lye
- Mix all ingredients except for the pretzel liquor and knead into a smooth dough by hand or machine. This takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Let the dough rest in a sealed bowl in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 4 hours.
- Portion the dough into portions of about 100g or according to the desired pretzel size.
- Shape the dough portions into a ball and then press into a flat oval patty.
- Fold the dough patty in once from bottom to center and then once from top to center.
- Now shape the dough portion into an long sausage and let it rest for about 5 minutes. The time until all dough portions are so processed should be enough.
- Now pre-lengthen the pretzel blank by rolling it with the flat palms of your hands, rolling the ends slightly thinner than the center.
- Now loop the pretzel, press the ends firmly and place the pretzel on a baking sheet with baking paper.
- Place the finished pretzels in the refrigerator to proof for approx. 1-2 hours. Do not cover the pretzels, so that a dry outer skin is formed, which provides a crispy crust. This process is called stiffening.
- Preheat the oven to about 220 degrees. The baking temperature and time will depend greatly on how crispy you want the pretzels and how large the pretzel blanks are.
- Then either spray or brush the pretzels with the pretzel lye or dip them in it for about 4 seconds. CAUTION!!! Real pretzel lye is CORROSIVE and should only be used with gloves and safety glasses. If you have concentrated lye, it must be diluted to about 2-4% lye with water according to instructions. Please follow the manufacturer's safety instructions.
- Now sprinkle the pretzels with pretzel salt. Alternatively, coarse sea salt or fleur de sel also works.
- Now bake the pretzels for about 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the desired crispness.