Oh pretzels, how I dearly love you! As long as I can remember I have loved pretzels. They have been one of my favorite foods for so long because they are perfect. They can be crunchy, soft, hot, cold, it doesn’t matter they always taste good. But where do they come from?

Typical stereotyp Bavaria specialty Brezel pretzel
Photo by Markus Spiske / Unsplash

Pretzels have actually been around for hundreds of years and date back to the Middle Ages. They were often passed out to the poor because they were thought to symbolize good luck and prosperity.

Pretzels made their way to America with the Germans, who settled in Pennsylvania in 1710. It wasn’t until 1861 that pretzels were made at a bakery owned by Julius Sturgis.

Sturgis also has the credit of creating the hard pretzel. This snack was one of the first snacks that could be stored and last a long time without going bad. This also meant that companies could ship the hard pretzels to stores across the country.

In the 1930s, the first automated pretzel machine was invented by the Reading Pretzel Machinery Company. The machine could produce 245 pretzels per minute! To this day, Pennsylvania is still the pretzel capital of America!

What is your favorite kind of pretzel? Do you like hard or soft pretzels better? Any flavor you like? Share with me by commenting below!

Homemade Pretzels

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 standard packet)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tbs unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour + up to 3/4 cup more if needed
  • 2 cups water for cooking in
  • 4 tbs baking soda
  • 1 tbs coarse salt, for sprinkling on top
  • 6 tbs salted butter, melted for coating pretzels

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees and line a large baking sheet or two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Combine yeast with warm water and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with hook attachment. Once mixture becomes "frothy" your yeast is ready. Stir in salt and 1 tbs of melted butter. Add flour 1 cup at a time until a dough forms and is no longer sticky. You may need more or less depending on temperature differences. If you press your finger into the dough and it bounces back, it's ready to knead. Knead dough for 5 more minutes until smooth and pliable. Form dough into a ball and place it back into the bowl to rest for 15 minutes. During this time, prepare baking soda bath.
  3. In a medium sized pot, boil 2 cups of water with 4 tbs of baking soda. Once the baking soda is mostly dissolved, take mixture off heat and allow it to come down to a lukewarm temperature. Pour into a 9x9 baking dish once cooled down.
  4. At this time, 15 minutes of dough resting time should be up. Take dough out of the bowl and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. Cut dough into 8 sections (like a pizza). Roll each triangle into a long rope, about 19-20 inches long. Shape dough into pretzel shape and place in baking soda bath for 2 minutes. If the whole pretzel isn't covered by the water, spoon it on top of the areas is doesn't reach. Once the 2 minutes is up, carefully pick pretzel up either by your hand or with the help of a fork and place on prepared baking sheet. You may have to re-shape slightly. Sprinkle the pretzel with coarse salt while still wet (optional). Repeat these steps until all 8 pretzels are prepared and on the baking sheet(s).
  5. Bake pretzels for 8-9 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately from the oven, brush (heavily) with 6 tbs of melted butter. Tasty!


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