This German soft pretzel recipe comes from my husbandís mother,
Lois Wonn Krapf. Many years ago in Tamaqua, Schuylkill Co., PA [not sure of the
time frame but about the late 30s-early 40s], the family had a pretzel factory
and this is the recipe that they used to make the pretzels. This is an old
German recipe, I believe, that was handed down in the
family. My husband asked his father for it but he said that it was a secret
recipe with secret ingredients. My husbandís mother said that there was nothing
secret about it and wrote the recipe down for us. The pretzels sold very well
here in town but my father-in-law was forced out of the business. He thought
that he would get the pretzel recipe along with the business but he did not and
the factory soon went out of business.
So this recipe was the star of the operation. Here in PA soft
pretzels are a big business and you can find small business selling them in
malls and watch them being made. This area of PA had many early German
immigrants who came to work in the coal mines. At one time more people spoke
German here than English. They loved their Pretzels, so if they sold well here
then this is a very good recipe.
German Soft Pretzels
Heat Oven to 475 degrees
1/8 cup hot water
1 package active
1 1/3 cup warm water
1/3 cup brown sugar
5 cups flour plus
some extra flour
Coarse Kosher salt
In a large bowl mix the hot water and yeast until the yeast
dissolves. Stir in the warm water and the brown sugar . Slowly add 5 cups of
flour to the mixture, stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the mixture
is smooth and does not stick to the side of the bowl. Put the dough on a lightly
Dip your hands in the extra flour. Knead the dough until it is
stretchy and smooth. Push it down and away from you with the palms of your
hands. Turn the dough as you work. Grease two cookie sheets very well. Sprinkle
each with coarse kosher salt. Set the sheets aside. Pinch off a piece of pretzel
dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll the dough into a rope 14 inches long
and as thick as your thumb. Bend the rope into a u shape, cross one end of the
rope over the other end. The ropes should cross about 3 inches from the tips.
Twist the cross ends making a full turn. Fold the ends back, toward the middle
of the U. Open the ends slightly to form a pretzel shape, press the ends into
the dough firmly. Fill a frying pan with water. For each cup of water in the pan
add 1 tablespoon of baking soda. Bring water to a gentle boil. Not too many
bubbles. Use a spatula to lower each pretzel into frying pan. Count very slowly
to 30. Then lift the pretzel onto the greased and salted cookie sheet. Repeat
until all the dough is used. Sprinkle some kosher salt on top of the pretzels
and put them in the oven.
Bake for 8 minutes or until the pretzels are golden brown. Makes
30 average size pretzels.
Tip: Twisting the dough into the pretzel shape may take some practice before you
get it correct. If you can't get the knack, you can always make pretzel sticks.