Thursday, January 26, 2012

Homemade Pretzels

Homemade Pretzels
Dorcas Annette Walker

I started the month of January with pretzels and I am going to end the month with another pretzel recipe. Our family always ate big fat pretzels with ice cream, but then we were Pennsylvania Dutch, who’s German and Swiss ancestors immigrated here to America in the early 1700’s searching for religious freedom. For years my sister has made Homemade Pretzels, but it wasn’t until this month that I decided to try it myself. To my surprise pretzels aren’t that hard to make and Homemade Pretzels are softer than store bought ones.

Pretzels originated in Europe made of dough in soft and hard varieties, savory or sweet flavors, tied in a knot-like shape known as the pretzel loop. Most agree that pretzels were invented by monks and became associated with Lent and Easter. By the 12th century the pretzel was an emblem of bakers. The custom of using lye in baking pretzels evolved in the 18th century and became well liked due to baking out excess moisture and increasing self life and crispness. In the 20th century pretzels had become popular throughout the United States as Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York became renowned for their soft pretzels. Today Pennsylvania is the center of American pretzel production.

Some pretzel facts:

- The annual U.S pretzel industry is worth over $550 million.
- The average American consumes 1.5 pounds of pretzels per year while the Philadelphian consumes 12 times more pretzels as the national average.
- In the early 1950’s the Volkswagen Beetle was nicknamed the “Pretzel Beetle”.
- The Pretzel Museum opened in Philadelphia in 1993.
- Governor Ed Rendell declared April 26 as “National Pretzel Day”.
- The Anderson Pretzel Factory produces 65 tons of pretzels daily.
- The largest pretzel weighed 40 pounds and measured 5 feet across.
- Speyer Germany is called the “pretzel town” and has a weekend festival in July that attracts 300,000 visitors with over 100 bands and floats where 22,000 pretzels are thrown out to the crowds.
- On January 1st some people give each other pretzels for good luck.
- In Germany the fourth Sunday in Lent is called “Pretzel Sunday” where boys give girlfriends pretzels.
- On May 1st love-struck boys paint a pretzel on the doors of sweethearts.
- An upside-down-pretzel means a sign of disgrace.
- Some pretzel sayings: “today the sun pretzeled down” means the sun is hot, “he got pretzeled” means he crashed, “I pretzeled him one” means I punched him in the nose, “he pretzeled down the road” means he went fast, and a “pretzeled appearance” means stylishly dressed.

Pretzels can be seasoned and decorated with: salt, sugar, sesame, poppy, sunflower, pumpkin, or caraway seeds, nuts, melted cheese, bacon bits, mustard, icing, and cinnamon. You can use different flours such as whole wheat or rye. Christmas pretzels are made with gingerbread and covered with chocolate frosting. For unique shapes boil the dough in baking soda water for 30 seconds. For a darker look glaze with egg yolk before baking. Preparation time for my Homemade Pretzels is around 1½ hrs and this recipe makes (depending on the size of pretzels) close to 30 pretzels.

Homemade Pretzels

1½ c warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 pkg dry yeast
4 c all-purpose flour
cooking spray
4 tsp baking soda
Kosher salt

Combine water, sugar, and yeast in a cup and let sit for 5 minutes until yeast rises. Put flour in a medium-sized bowl and add the yeast. Knead dough for 5 minutes until smooth adding a little flour as necessary. Place dough in a bowl coated with cooking spray, spray dough, and cover. Let rise for an hour. Take a pinch of dough and roll out into a thin string with your hands then loop and knot. Dip into a small bowl mixed with baking soda and ½ c of warm water. Place on greased baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 350ยบ for twenty minutes until browned. Cool and store in a zip-locked bag!

Weekly tip: Pretzels can be used as a crunchy topping for salads, desserts, and soups!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at:

1 comment:

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