Pretzels for Lent

Every year we make pretzels during Lent and this year I waited until Holy Week for the very profound reason of it not dawning on me until yesterday that we hadn't yet made them this year and well, Lent is almost over.

So today we made our pretzels.  Pretzels are associated with Lent because
"According to pretzel maker Snyder’s of Hanover, a young monk in the early 600s in Italy was preparing a special Lenten bread of water, flour and salt. To remind his brother monks that Lent was a time of prayer, he rolled the bread dough in strips and then shaped each strip in the form of crossed arms, mimicking the then popular prayer position of folding one’s arms over each other on the chest. The bread was then baked as a soft bread, just like the big soft pretzels one can find today. (To be fair, some traditions date the story to even the 300s.) 
Because these breads were shaped into the form of crossed arms, they were called bracellae,the Latin word for "little arms." From this word, the Germans derived the word bretzel which has since mutated to the familiar word pretzel
Another possibility for the origins of the word pretzel is that the young monk gave these breads to children as a reward when they could recite their prayers. The Latin word pretiola means "little reward," from which pretzel could also be reasonably derived."  (From this site CatholicEducation)

Lenten Pretzels

1 tbsp. dry yeast
1 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 c. warm water (approx. 100 degrees)
3 c. white whole wheat flour
1 c. all purpose flour (or any combination you wish of flours)
1 tsp. salt

Water Bath:
about 4 c. very hot (near boiling) water
4 tbsp. baking soda

Mix water, yeast, and sugar and let stand for 5-10 minutes until creamy.  Add flour and salt.

 Using the dough hook on my mixer I knead for 5-8 minutes until dough is pulled together and uniform.  Let rise until doubled about 1/2 hour or so.

   Mix the hot water and baking soda together in a wide pot and bring to simmer.  Punch down dough and cut into 12-18 pieces, depending on how big you'd like your pretzels.  Roll out until about the thickness of a pencil and shape into pretzel.  

Dip pretzel into water bath for about 20-30 seconds and then place on baking sheet (oiled, nonstick, or lined with parchment!).
Bake at 425 degrees approximately 8-10 minutes until golden.

If desired brush with melted butter and sprinkle on some coarse salt, cinnamon sugar, or any other toppings you'd like. Enjoy!

 See?  Arms.  But don't you normally think of the bottom of the pretzel being the other way around? I do.

The abstract tray.  John Paul crafted an IHS, Michael a cross and an 'O', David a log, a 'Z', and an embryo-like creature.


  1. Wow - those pretzels look so yummy! Must be those special little Haseltine helpers you have! My mouth is watering! I've actually never made pretzels. You've inspired me - I'm going to have to make some soon!

  2. Haha, "an embryo-like creature"!


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