Looking for something fun for your next brunch? Try this braided bread shaped like a pretzel. German pretzels bring good luck and this symbol is most relevant on New Year's Day. This bread also makes a wonderful hostess gift because it is so decorative.
Makes 1 large New Year's Pretzel
Prep Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
- 3 1/2 - 4 c. flour (500 grams)
- 2 1/4 tsp. dry yeast (1 package)
- 1/3 c. sugar (50-60 grams)
- 1 c. milk (250 ml)
- 1 egg
- 4 T. melted butter (60 grams)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- Zest from 1 lemon
- 1 egg yolk
- Coarse sugar for decoration
Measure or weigh flour into the mixing bowl.
Proof the yeast by dissolving it in the cup of warm milk with a pinch of sugar. Leave it in a warm place for about 15 minutes.
When bubbles form, add it to the flour together with the egg, butter, salt and lemon zest and work it into a medium stiff dough.
Knead for several minutes or until dough becomes smooth and silky. Form it into a ball and place it in an oiled bowl, turning to coat. Let rise in a warm spot for 15 minutes.
Sprinkle a large table top with flour and turn dough out onto it. Turn once to coat. Divide into 3 equal pieces (it helps to weigh them, not just eyeball them).
Roll each into a one foot long cylinder and let rest for a few minutes (this helps relax gluten). Starting in the middle, lengthen the dough into a rope by rolling against the table top and applying pressure outwards. The middle should be thicker than the ends.
Continue this way until you have three strands of dough at least three feet long (1 meter) each. If dough continues to spring back, let it rest for a couple minutes and try again.
Beginning in the middle, braid the three strands together towards each end. Pinch the ends closed. Lengthen the braid slightly by pulling on the ends.
For good luck: Place several foil-wrapped coins (lucky pennies - "Glueckspfennige") between the braided strands. The person who finds a coin has their New Year's wish come true.
Form braid into a pretzel shape and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Cover with a clean dish cloth.
Heat oven to 350°F for 30 minutes. Make an egg wash with the egg yolk plus 3 tablespoons of water and brush the braid with it. If you are serving the bread the same day, sprinkle with sugar for decoration. If the bread is to be kept for several days, frozen or shellacked, do not sprinkle sugar, as it will make it soggy.
Bake for 30 - 40 minutes at 350°F on the second shelf from top of the oven.