Thursday, 2 August 2012

Slinging pretzels (Brezelschlingen)

(Lye) Pretzel ((Laugen)Brezel in German: pronounce "brey-tsel")
This post is a story post not a recipe post. Though I have no children connection I believe this post could interest children raisers due to the fable like story. This is not the historical account of the origin of Pretzels (which I am sure is not as interesting) but one of the several stories narrated in Germany to explain its origin. The courtesy goes to of course Elvira again and this book she gave me as a Christmas gift. 

In Germany pretzels are famous mostly in the two Southern states of Bavaria and Baden-W├╝rttemberg (especially Swabia). It's a savoury bread with a tick chewy middle and thin tapering ends called the "arms" with rock salt strewn on top for a nice salty punch when you bite into the crispy crust and the chewy crumb. Altogether it's a wonderful warmth that spreads in your body and spirit when had fresh from the baker on a cold morning; dunking it in coffee as some like to do. They are had with butter, cheese or Wurst although they are great even just plain.
The main highlights of the pretzel are firstly it's shape of course and secondly the fact they they are dunked in Lye (Lauge) before baking which is what gives it the deep brown colour. Lye is a diluted solution of Sodium Hydroxide (Soda - NaOH). The way the shape is formed is important as this imparts the tension and stretch to the dough required for most yeast doughs. That's why it's called slinging pretzels (Brezelschlingen). This is how pretzels are professionally "slung". It takes some practice but can be learnt and is great fun! (when you get them right)

Now to the story.
Once upon a time there was a baker called Frieder. He and his wife baked delicious bread for the entire town. There were few other bakers as good as Frieder. He even delivered his bread to the royal palace. The King was very happy with the bread that Frieder provided for him and his townsmen.

As Frieder got richer, he also got greedier. He began mixing his flour with cheap lime and making his loaves too small. When the king came to know of this, he called Frieder to the court and sentenced him to be hanged. Until the decided day he would be locked up in a cell. During his time in the cell the townspeople had trouble getting bread and even the royal palace faced delays in getting their supply. 

The King not wanting to lose his only good baker decided to give Frieder a chance. He summoned Frieder on the evening before the planned hanging and said: "You may go free under one condition. You bake a bread so delicious that I have never ever tasted, before the third crow of the rooster tomorrow and through which the sun may shine thrice". 

With this task the King let Frieder go home for the night. Frieder went home and made the dough for the bread without knowing how he would proceed. All he could picture in his head was the noose that would go around his neck the next day. His hands formed the dough just like the rope of the noose. His plump wife stood by patiently in the door of the kitchen with arms crossed. Arms that would not embrace him anymore once he was dead. He formed similar crossed arms with the dough with the plump middle. And behold! The sun can actually shine thrice through this bread! Happy with the chance of going free, Frieder and his wife danced about in joy. Alas! They tipped the tray and the shaped dough fell into the bucket of lye meant for cleaning the oven. They hurriedly took the dough out of the lye and replaced them on the tray. There was no time to make more and the bread was baked as such. It tasted like nothing the King had had before. Frieder was free to go!

The below batch was our second pretzel breakfast. The first one was far from perfect. Recipe on request and orders in batches of 12 are welcome :)

1 comment:

  1. So in love with this! loved the deep dark coloration and it's complete with the salt crystals! So perfectly Bavarian!