Bavarian Pretzels – Bayerische Brezeln

Numerous accounts exist regarding the origin of the Pretzel, as well as that of the name itself, though no sources have any reliability to their claims. A common theme, however, is that it was invented by Roman Catholic monastics and typically with some religious function and symbolism.

According to one legend, in the year 610 an Italian monk invented Pretzels as a reward for children who successfully learned prayers. The legend also says that he folded strips of dough to resemble arms crossed over the chest, and that he called them pretiola, Latin for “little presents”. Linguists now believe that the word Brezel may derive from Latin, but in addition to pretiola, that it could also be from either bracellus (bracelet) or bracchiola (little arms).

Food historian William Woys Weaver traces the origin of the pretzel even farther back to pre-Christian Celtic harvest knots and the worship of the Celtic goddess Sirona. This association does however not appear in any of the other rare mentions of the goddess.

Contrarily, in Germany, there are stories that pretzels were the invention of desperate bakers held hostage by local dignitaries. These stories notably lack any religious motivation in the invention of the Pretzel. This could either be due to Church leaders wanting to give a religious history and meaning to them so they created alternate stories, or it could be that those disgruntled with corruption in the church sought to create their own alternate story.


710 ml (3 cups) all-purpose flour, divided
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
315 ml (1 ⅓ cups) water
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons baking soda
710 ml (3 cups) water
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon coarse see salt, or to taste


In large bowl, add together 1 cup of flour, yeast, sugar, 2 tablespoons of butter, and 1 ⅓ cup water. Let mixture stand until bubbles begin to form, or about 15 minutes.

Stir in salt and gradually stir in remaining flour until dough can be picked up and kneaded. Take out of bowl and knead until smooth and elastic, or about 8 minutes, adding more flour if needed. Divide dough into 6 pieces and let rest for a few minutes.

Next, roll each of the six pieces, using hands, into roughly 38 cm (15 inches) long pieces. These pieces should be cylindrical, roughly resembling a rope in shape.

Loop and twist into pretzel shape. Set on a baking sheet while rolling out remaining portions. Preheat oven to 220°C (450°F).

Bring remaining 3 cups of water to a boil, add baking soda, and remove from the heat. Dip pretzels into water bath for about 45 seconds, flipping over about halfway through. Place soaked pretzels on greased baking sheet, then, using brush, coat with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse salt.

Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, or about 8 to 10 minutes.

Credit: All Recipes