Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Edible Christmas Tree Decorations - Christmas Bretzels

I am having a hard time going back to "normal" after the events in Connecticut last week. Discussions on Facebook are still going hot and heavy. But one has to keep moving and stop thinking of all the ugliness in this world or one might go insane...

One of the Earliest depictions of a Bretzel from the 12th Century

It's not good for the children to see us so sad and preoccupied with negative thoughts. Since the wave of orders in my shop appears to have subsided, I started on some Christmas cookies. Late - as always.

I had not thought about Bretzels in a long time. You know German folks like to hang edible Christmas decorations on their Christmas trees. I 'll never forget that first Christmas when we took our little fellow back to Germany. He was just a toddler and would crawl up to my sister's Christmas tree pick an apple from the tree and take a bite from it. We all laughed finding the apples with tiny bitemarks among the presents...Only the ones that were high up were safe.

I let me my daughter pick a recipe from my German cookbook yesterday. It was for Weihnachtsbretzels. They will look so pretty tied onto the tree with bright red ribbons. I will have to make an extra batch to give to friends and neighbors.

from Wikipedia:

(known as Brezel in German, sometimes also Brezn or Breze) is a type of baked food made from dough in soft and hard varieties and savory or sweet flavors in a unique knot-like shape, originating in Europe. The pretzel shape is a distinctive symmetrical looped form, with the ends of a long strip of dough intertwine brought together and then twisted back onto itself in a certain way ("a pretzel loop"). Pretzels in stick form may also be called pretzels in the English-speaking context. For seasoning and decoration various glazes, salt crystals, sugar and various seeds or nuts can be used. The size varies from large enough for one to be a sufficient serving, to much smaller....

There are numerous accounts on the origin of the looped pretzels, as well as the origin of the name; most agree that they have Christian backgrounds and were invented by monks. According to The History of Science and Technology, by Bryan Bunch and Alexander Hellemans, in 610 AD " Italian monk invents pretzels as a reward to children who learn their prayers. He calls the strips of baked dough, folded to resemble arms crossing the chest, 'pretiola' ("little rewards")".
I also thought of them in terms of little hugging arms. Maybe you could bake some and give them away. Show a little love to someone who may not expect it. They are not that hard to make. The recipe is fairly easy and does not require too many ingredients.
cream together using a handmixer
  • 100g butter
  • 200g sugar
  • packet of vanilla sugar or some liquid vanilla extract
to this mixture add
  • one whole egg plus another eggwhite (reserve the yolk of the second egg for eggwash)
sift together
  • 500 g flour
  •  2 teaspoons of bakingpowder 
  •  pinch of salt
add 2/3 of the dry ingredients to the wet ones with mixer, then kneed in the rest of the flour by hand. Since we live in very dry climate I used about 50g less flour.
If the dough is very soft, refrigerate it for a little while. Our house is so cold, brrrrr,  I didn't have to.
Cut off chunks of dough and roll it into pencil-thick little ropes. Cut them into 20cm long pieces and shape them into Bretzels. 
 Put them on a greased cookies sheet and apply eggwash with a brush. The eggwash is made with the reserved eggyolk of the second egg and mixed beaten with 2 tablespoons of milk.
Bake at 375 for 10 -15 minutes.
This recipe makes about 40 bretzels. They don't taste very sweet and are like a hard little cracker.


Little Woodlanders said...

Awesome, I think I'm going to make those!

germandolls said...

If you do please share some photos! I think I'll put a link on the NK team blog, too. =)