Before you know it, the current year will be history. To help in getting your new year off to a great start, some of us have a tradition when it comes to serving certain foods. In my family, we always make sure to have a ham or pork chops, sauerkraut, black eye peas, and green tossed salad among dishes I prepare for New Year’s day. Though it may be a custom of German families that originated in the seventh century, we also have adopted their good luck pretzel as a part of our New Year’s tradition as well. With the way things are going in our country and in the world, I thought this pretzel recipe is one that everyone could use on their table.
The first good luck pretzels weren’t the sweet variety, but more of a soft raised bread pretzel according to their history. At the time, the Catholic Church in Europe used these pretzels during Lent as a way the monks would tempt children to learn their prayers correctly. When the children repeated the right words, the monks gave the student a pretzel reward.
These pretzels took another turn when the Turks invaded Austria in the 1500s. Thanks to the good ears of some monks that were baking in the basement that heard digging trying to access the tunnels beneath, the city was saved from an invasion.
In the 1600s, this special pretzel with its characteristic knot shape began being used in marriage ceremonies for symbolizing tying the knot and good luck. During that century, German children began wearing pretzel necklaces to help bring good luck for the New Year.
It is unclear exactly when the plain, soft pretzel evolved into the sweet dough variety of this pretzel from the research I was doing. However, the Germans that migrated eventually to Pennsylvania could have developed the version that is traditionally used today for a pretzel for New Year’s.
My pretzels are a light raised sweet dough with eggs, dry milk crystals and canola oil. Making them is not particularly difficult or time consuming compared to other raised dough. You have an initial rising and can punch the dough down for a second one or just immediately shape and bake your two huge pretzels.
The Good Luck Pretzel Is a Tradition to Usher in Happiness, Health and Prosperity for the New Year
Once the pretzel bakes, I brush them with some melted butter and frost with a thin confectioners’ sugar icing. I also sprinkled them with some colorful jimmies for extra beauty.
Though it may be a custom of German families that originated in the seventh century, we also have adopted their good luck pretzel as a part of our New Year’s tradition as well. This light, sweet raised dough is complimented by melted butter and a thin confectioners’ sugar icing.
- 2/3 cup of dry milk powder
- ½ cups of sugar
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 2 cups of warm water hotter than lukewarm
- 2 tablespoons of dry yeast
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup of canola oil
- 7-71/2 cups of sifted flour
- Thin confectioners’ sugar icing
- jimmies or sprinkles optional
- melted butter for brushing baked pretzels
In a large mixing bowl, mix the very warm, but not hot water with the sugar and yeast. Wait a few minutes to proof the yeast. You’ll know that the mixture is ready when it
starts to bubble and appear foamy in your mixing bowl.
Add the eggs, salt and oil next and blend in.
Next, slowly start adding the flour and mixing with the other ingredients until you get soft, pliable dough.
Cover with a dish towel or a lid and keep in a warm place until the dough doubles. You can either punch the dough down at that stage or begin shaping.
Grease two cookie sheets or baking pans that can hold your pretzels first.
Sprinkle some flour lightly on your table or another surface.
Now to continue, apply some oil to your hands. This will prepare for the shaping.
Divide the dough in half.
Shape into each of the dough into two long, thin rolls.
Twist once in the center and than place in your pan.
Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 20 minutes.
While the pretzels are still hot, brush them with some melted butter or margarine.
Afterwards, paint them with a thin confectioners’ sugar icing while they are still warm.