Pretzel lovers unite! It’s National Pretzel Day this Friday, April 26, and who doesn’t like to chow down on nice pretz, be it crunchy or soft, salty or sweet, tiny or large, drenched in chocolate or served plain.
How a pretzel came to being is a conversation to be had with fellow pretzel lovers but, according to Nationaldaycalendar.com , “there are a few different accounts of the origin of the pretzel. Most people agree that it does have a Christian background, and they were developed by monks.”
According to The History of Science and Technology, in 610 AD, “an Italian monk invents pretzels as a reward to children who learned their prayers.” Another source points to a monastery in southern France as the inventor, and another notes the shape is similar to a Greek ring bread used in communion bread. You’ll even find the recognizable shape of the pretzel on the official crest of Germany’s Backerhandwerks (Bakers Guild.)
Research shows pretzels were introduced to North America by Pennsylvania Dutch immigrants but it was in the 20th century that soft pretzels found their popularity in such cities as Chicago, New York and Philadelphia.
According to The JC ( Thejc.com ), “the pretzel’s Jewish influence came with the migration of the Jews from eastern Europe to America. There are numerous stories of pretzel vendors selling their wares during the Great Depression on the streets of the Lower East Side of New York, where thousands of Jewish immigrants had settled.”
Auntie Anne’s ( auntieannes.com ) is considered one of the world’s largest hand-rolled soft pretzel companies, with franchises throughout North America including several in Toronto. Auntie Anne offers a variety of styles and flavours, and the company recently partnered with Shopkick shopping rewards app to ask North Americans what is their pretzel preference.
Top answer? Salty – dipped in cheese! We suspect beer may play a role in the devouring of a delicious, fresh pretzel, too.
Looking to make your own? Here’s a great recipe for pretzel rolls courtesy Robin Hood ( Robinhood.ca ).
- 1 tsp. (5 mL) granulated sugar.
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) warm water (105-115F/40-56C)
- 1 pkg. (2 1/4 tsp./8 g) active dry yeast.
- 1 cup (250 mL) warm water (105-115F/40-56C)
- 2 Tbsp. (30 mL) packed brown sugar.
- 2 tsp. (10 mL) salt.
- 3 1/2 cups (875 mL) Best for Bread Flour Homestyle White.
- 12 cups (3 L) water
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) baking soda
- 2 Tbsp. (30 mL) granulated sugar
- White of one egg, beaten
- 1 Tbsp. (15 mL) coarse salt
Dissolve sugar and water in a large bowl of an electric mixer. Sprinkle in yeast. Let stand 10 minutes, stir well.
Add warm water, brown sugar, salt and 3 cups (750 mL) flour to dissolved yeast mixture. Using dough hook attachment beat dough on low speed until flour is incorporated. Increase speed to medium and continue beating for 5 minutes. If necessary, add more flour to make a soft dough which leaves the sides of the bowl.
Knead dough on a floured surface, adding more flour as necessary, until no longer sticky (about 5 minutes). Place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel. Rise in warm place (75-85F/24C-29C) until doubled in size, about 60 minutes.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Punch down dough. Divide into 16 pieces and form into balls. Place on prepared baking sheets. Using sharp scissors cut an X in centre of each roll. Cover with towel and let rise until doubled in size, about 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Bring 12 cups (3 L) water to a boil in a large stock pot. When rolls have doubled in size, slowly add baking soda and sugar to boiling water. Water will foam up. Boil 4 rolls at a time for 1 minute. Remove from water with slotted spoon, drain and place back on baking sheets. Brush with egg white and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake in preheated oven until brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on wire cooling rack.
Makes about 16 rolls. Serve with favourite dip or mustard.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019