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Making Bread at Home

Making Bread at Home

By Tom Jaine

Published 2005

  • About

There are two sorts of pretzel (called brezeln in German). One is a hard and salty biscuit that helps sharpen the thirst for a long cool drink of beer, the other is a larger and softer salted bread sold especially in America, having been brought there by German immigrants in the 19th century.

The name refers to the shape, which is very ancient made by early Christians as a Lenten bread, the crossed arms symbolizing the Cross. The derivation of the name is from the Latin bracellae, ‘little arms’. Not only breads, but also sweet biscuits, are made to this pattern in Germany and Austria.

The dough is like a bagel in that it is poached before baking, giving it a chewy texture.


  • 15 g/½ oz fresh yeast
  • 200 ml/7 fl oz tepid water
  • 90 ml/3 fl oz tepid milk
  • 450 g/1 lb unbleached white bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 30 g/1 oz butter, melted
  • 1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons milk for glaze
  • sea salt crystals


  1. Cream the yeast in the water and milk in a bowl. Mix the flour and the 1 teaspoon salt. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the liquid. Mix to a rough dough, adding the melted butter while mixing. Mix thoroughly until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl. Turn on to a well floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes.
  2. Leave the dough to rise in a bowl covered with oiled clingfilm in a warm place (24°C/75°F) for about 1 hour, until doubled in size.
  3. Turn out the dough on to the lightly floured work surface and knead for another 5 minutes. Divide the dough into 16 pieces. Form them into small balls and leave them covered on the side of the work surface.
  4. Ensuring that there is plenty of dusting flour to avoid sticking, roll each piece with the flat of the hands into pencils about 30 cm/12 inches in length. Bend each pretzel into a horseshoe, then bring the ends up to the top of the shoe, crossing and twisting once in the centre. Leave to prove on a floured board, covered with a cloth, for 10 minutes.
  5. Heat a large pan of salted water to a bare simmer. Drop each pretzel in turn into the poaching water and remove with a slotted spoon as soon as it rises to the surface. Drain them on a clean tea towel. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6.
  6. Place the poached pretzels on greased baking sheets, brush with the glaze and sprinkle them with sea salt crystals. Bake the pretzels for approximately 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.