Bier, Bratwurst and Brezeln – the perfect combination

A Good German Housewife should be able to make Brezeln.

Well, normally a Good German Housewife (or at least a Bavarian one) knows where to buy decent Brezeln. Not so easy when you live 5 hours from the nearest Brezelbäcker. 

Since moving to Switzerland, Brezeln is one of the tastes of the Heimat that we have missed. There are the small “delice au beurre” in the bakers which are basically the same but a good German sized Brezel is hard to find. 

We are expecting guests this weekend for a Bier and Bratwurst WC2010 Party so I thought I would add to the list by making it a Bier, Brezeln und Bratwurst WC2010 Party.

Brezeln have been baked in Germany for centuries, there are conflicting reports about where the Brezel originated. From France to Italy and of course Germany.

The town of Bad Urach in Germany boasts that the Brezel was in fact invented in their town by a baker who was to be punished for crimes against his Lord. He was given one last chance to redeem himself:

„Back einen Kuchen lieber Freund, durch den die Sonne dreimal scheint, dann wirst du nicht gehenkt, dein Leben sei dir frei geschenkt.“

“Bake a cake, dear friend, through which the sun shines thrice, and you will not be hung, your life is yet young”

The baker went to work and according to local legend, made the first Brezel. There are similar stories from Unterelsass (Alsace) and Altenried in Germany.

Though there are differing stories about the provenance of the Brezel, one thing remains the same. Particularly in Southern Germany, it is as present as the croissant in France, the scone in Scotland, the muffin in America. Every baker offers Brezel – most often Laugenbrezel – in which the dough is first dunked in a lye solution before baking. Sometimes you can find sweet brezeln, covered with sugar or almonds. 

The first step is the making of the dough, basically flour, yeast, sugar  then depending on the recipe, sometimes butter, sometimes milk, sometimes both. 

The dough is left to rise for a short time until it has doubled in size then worked into strips and twisted into the typical Brezel shape. Easier said than done, I will have to work on my Brezel Twisting Technique. I seem to be missing a twist in the middle there.
MademoiselleLindt filmed me practising and PetitMonsieurLindt was at least impressed. 
The formed Brezel are then dipped for just over a minute in a mixture of boiling water and baking soda. This gives them their salty flavour, and shiny brown appearance.

The dipping done, the Brezel are fished out then put on a baking tray, sprinkled with coarse salt and baked in a very hot oven for 12 minutes.

The first batch that I made were rather large so I made a second batch slightly smaller. I still have to find out the perfect size and although they are not difficult to make, they do require attention so I will do the next lot when the kids are in school and MonsieurLindt is at work.

In the baking soda/water solution

Dried off, ready to go into oven

Second batch, slightly smaller

Bite sized Brezeln

Soft Bretzel Recipe
Serves: 36 | Prep time: minutes
1 tbsp Yeast
1 tbsp Sugar
2 tbsp softened butter or softened margarine <
1 cup warm (115-+ deg F) water
2 3/4 cups flour
Coarse Salt to sprinkle on Pretzels before baking 
5 tsp baking soda mixed in 4 cups water in a non-aluminum saucepan. 
1 large slotted spoon to “go fishing” 
Greased cookie sheet 
Preheat oven to 475 F Put yeast, sugar, salt, butter/marg, water and ONE CUP of the flour into a medium mixing bowl and pour in the water.
Stir till all smooth, and yeast starts to bubble. At this point add the rest of the flour, stir till it is mixed in. When mixture is too stiff to stir with a spoon, begin kneading. Knead dough till smooth and till it no longer sticks to the bowl and your hands Allow dough to rise to about double its height. EDIT: I used instant yeast so just bunged it all in the food processor.
While dough is rising, grease the cookie sheet. and prepare the baking soda-water mixture and bring to a boil on stove. When dough is risen enough, punch down, knead for a minute or so, then divide and roll the 6-inch sticks with your hands, to about 1/2 inch in diameter, or 12-15-inch long rolls to make into the pretzel shape. Allow sticks or pretzels to sit for about 1-2 mins. 
Place them into boiling water-baking soda mixture one or two at a time. Let the pretzels boil for 1 minute 10 seconds, then flip them over with the slotted spoon and boil on the other side for 1 minute and 10 seconds. This boiling step gives them a firm skin and adds some flavour. Not boiling long enough leaves them too soft and allows them to rise too much. Boiling too long makes them tough. Fish them out of the water, let them drip off and place them on the greased cookie sheet. 
When all the pretzels or sticks are done, sprinkle the coarse salt on them. Bake for 12-15 minutes or till sticks or pretzels are golden brown. You can double the recipe in proportion. ENJOY!!

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