Adventures in Baking

Das Ist Eine Authentisch Gute Brezel – Yeah It Is!

 

Pretzels are my downfall – ever since I was a little kid, skipping my way through the Farmer’s Market in Munich, Germany eagerly searching for that delectably soft, crunchy, salty goodness. There is nothing like a true German pretzel! The melt in your mouth, overly satisfying comfort of leaven! I am not sure if I had ever experienced a true pretzel before that time of the 8th year of my youth, as my mom took my sister and I to visit her family in Germany (mom was born and raised there and moved to the US when she was 17). This changed my eating desires completely.

In Germany, They don’t eat, store food, or buy food the way we do. Well, at least they didn’t when I as there decades ago and maybe I will get to go back one day and see if they still do it this way, but it was a beauty to behold back then. In the morning, we would all get up and out the door for our beautiful brisk walk in the crisp city air and head to the local Konditorei (pastry shop), where ironically I would get a most delightful pastry called the Amerikaner (a quick google search looking for a picture found me a recipe I might have to try haha).

From there, we would travel on to get Ur Opa (my great grandfather) his morning newspaper and head to the Farmer’s Market. Here we would gather the food for the day. My great grandparents lived in a small apartment in the city center. Their kitchen was small and only had a (dorm sized) mini fridge. Here my Ur Oma would keep just a few drinks, milk, and a little meat. They never stored food; they bought in the morning what they would consume that day. I loved this, because it was always so fresh and it made for a great outing everyday.

The market was always such a wonderfully diverse place to be. The smells, the cheers, the smiles, the excitement – all added to the deliciousness for what was to be had there. So daily, my sister and I would joyfully look forward to picking out our soft Brezel and Gelbwurst and then counting down the hours to dinner when we would get to eat it (they ate reversed…our lunch is their dinner and their dinner is our lunch).

Ever since that time, I have always sought out pretzels. None have touched the beauty that I received in Germany. A few years ago, my family and I had a quick layover in Frankfurt, Germany and you better believe I traipsed my family all over that airport in search of an authentic tasty treat! To which of course I found one! I still remember my son commenting, “So this is what we came to find? Disneyland is better.” Kids these days! Granted, one of the main reasons I love to go to Disneyland is for their pretzels, oh and their fried pickles, oh and their cake pops, pier salad, churros…you get the picture. But nothing compares to the pretzels in Germany.

As someone who has struggled with anorexia their whole life, indulging in the foods that I love so much, was something of a painful thing. But now that God has released me from those shackles, I am finding freedom and joy in being able to rejoice in the tastebuds God gave me. Life is difficult, sin is abundant, trials persist, but God is so gracious to us at even just the aspect of granting us food that not only nourishes us but tastes good. This is part of an amazing blessing we can be excited about. And you can definitely tell pretzels are one of those things!

So let’s get to it. I have searched high and low over the years for a recipe to help travel me back in time to that Farmer’s Market in Munich and I had yet to find one, so I decided to see if I could derive one myself, based off of the several I tried. I just happened to have some extra yeast laying around from the French Bread I had just made a few weeks ago (I will share that recipe soon). Due to my kiddos health problems, they have strict dietary boundaries. Most breads need to be made with unbleached, non-enriched, organic flour. This is due mostly to my daughter and her severe abdominal migraines. Nitrates are a huge trigger for her and we found that even the nitrates added to synthetic vitamins in flour cause her to throw up. Not a pleasant thing and we will avoid it all costs. I will save you the true gory details since this is a food post (good idea Kristen!!). So I need to homemake everything made with flour that we indulge in so that I can bake it with the “special” flour that we use (King Arthur’s Organic All Purpose Flour). Which actually is a great bonus, since it is a great flour, but unfortunately a bit tight on the pocket book!

Ok, so yeast and I are just acquaintances. We have not had a lifelong friendship and I still lack trust with this fine item. The many times I had tried pretzels in the past came out too puffy, to hard, to gummy, disintegrated, or well… you name it and I am sure I have thrown it away! Yet, this time the Lord said it shall be good and it was! Thank you Lord! Now who knows if it will be just as good the second time, but beggars can’t be choosers!

A few things before I share this recipe:

  • Most pretzel recipes say to mix with a wooden spoon – I have had a few break and end up with shards of wood in my dough, so just use your hand or a nice sturdy plastic spoon.
  • Look upon how to properly twist a pretzel into shape. Boy I always think I can do this as I envision watching the teens working at Auntie Anne’s pretzels – they make it look so easy! Here is a link to what I like to call, “pretzel folding for dummies” – I have watched it several times!
  • A great way to let your dough rise – while making the dough, preheat your oven to 175 or 200 and then turn it off, put your covered bowl in and let her take off. I have a microwave above my oven, so if I am using my oven, I will put my dough in the microwave to sit in the heat coming up from the oven.
  • When you’re giving your pretzels the baking soda bath, add the soda and the water together before the water is boiling. Yeah, chemistry and I didn’t get along either so I found this one out the hard way. Then use a slotted spatula to help you turn the pretzel and take it out of the water.
  • I use Nordic Ware baking sheets. They are THE BEST!! You can find them on Amazon!

 

Hope you enjoy these delicious pretzels as much as we do!

Das Ist Eine Authentisch Gute Brezel – This is One Authentically Good Pretzel

GERMAN SOFT PRETZELS

Ingredients:

1 1/2 c. warm water 

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 Tablespoon salt

1 packet yeast 

4 1/2 c. all purpose flour (divided)

2 Tablespoons oil (I used vegetable) plus more to coat bowl

10 c. water

2/3 c. baking soda

1 egg (for egg wash)

Directions:

  1. Whisk together water, sugar and salt. Add yeast packet and let dissolve for 5 minutes. 
  2. Add 3 1/2 cups of flour all at once plus 2 Tablespoons oil. Mix with spoon, hands, or dough hook on stand mixer.
  3. Turn out onto floured surface and kneed in the 1 to 1 1/2 cups flour or use the dough hook on stand mixer, until dough is formed together and flour is all mixed in. Do not overmix.
  4. Oil bowl, put dough in bowl and cover with plastic wrap ( I like to put a kitchen towel over the plastic wrap as well to keep it secure). 
  5. Let rise in a warm place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or doubled in size.
  6. When done rising, mix together water and baking soda and bring to a boil.
  7. Divide dough evenly into balls. Take one ball and between hands and counter or work surface. The dough shouldn’t stick or need flour or oil. Roll out into a long log and twist to pretzel shape. 
  8. Put in boiling baking soda bath for 30 seconds (15 seconds on each side).
  9. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and brush with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse salt. You can also top with parmesan cheese or cinnamon and sugar.
  10. Bake at 450 degrees F. For 10-15 minutes. 

 

For a printable recipe click:  German Pretzel Recipe

 

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