When I think of pretzels, I think of a Sunday afternoon at the ballpark, with a hot dog in one hand and a pretzel in the other. The pretzel is really scrumptious, though not so nutrious. I’d bet though, you have no idea why it is called a pretzel or why they are usually in that shape…
The pretzel was “invented” in 610AD in southern France/northern Italy. The folded section symbolizes a child’s folded arms during prayer and the three different section symbolize the Trinity. Pretzels, or Pretiola in Latin as they were originally called, were given by monks to children who did well is Bible school. Over the next few centuries the Pretiola migrated to Germany and became the “Pretzel.”
So what does this have to do with Jerusalem (aka Jewish) Pretzels? To be honest, I have no idea. In doing research, I could not find the historical origins of the Jerusalem Pretzel. I found the recipe in Janna Gur’s cookbook, and have eaten them many times in the Old City. She claims post-the-Jews-regaining-Jerusalem, the Jews discoverd that their Arab friends had a tasty treat. Jeruslaem Pretzels, though, are shaped in an oval, presumably because the Arabs and Jews knew the historical roots of the “normal” pretzel. Also, in my research, I discovered the beigeleh, which in Yiddish would mean little bagel. It looks similar to me, but not quite the same. So in sum, pretzels taste good, so just eat them!
Today, I tried making this recipe using weights instead of volumes (ie, 500g and not 1/2 cup). It worked really well, and I recommend it, but I will include the volumes in case you don’t have a scale. So the pretzels are fairly easy to make, but the true ones use no salt and plenty of yeast. They can be enjoyed alone, dipped on olive oil, or even zatar. They are coated with generous amounts of sesame seeds. I recommend eating them immediately; or once they are cooled, freeze them in a ziplock bag and they can be reheated at 350F in the oven.
- 600g (4 1/4 c) white flour
- 20g (3 packets) yeast
- 45g (3 tbsp) white sugar
- 1/4 oil (canola or olive)
- 2 tbsp powdered milk [optional]
- 1 1/2 c water
- 1 eggs beaten
- 2 tbsp sugar
- sesame seeds
- If using stand mixer, place all ingredients in and knead for 10 mins. If kneading by hand, place all dry ingredients in bowl. Mix, and then add water. Hand knead for 10+ mins.
- Allow to rise until twice size (about 1-2 hours)
- On floured surface, divide into 6 equal pieces
- Roll each one out, making the end tapered. Attached the ends to make an oval shape.
- Place on wax paper on top of a baking sheet.
- Coat with egg and sugar mixture. Generously, sprinkle sesame seeds on top
- Bake for 15 mins, at 350F
- [Optional] To make even softer, place towel of pretzels with cooling.