Happy New Year 2016! Now that we have crossed that imaginary line to the new year, here is some more “lucky food” to usher in the year. This is a traditional German Neujahrsbrezel (New Year’s Pretzel). It’s sweet, sort of like Challah bread (that is pearl sugar, not salt). Some people hide a cent piece in it, and who ever find it, gets all the luck. I, of course, didn’t do that because I’m not sharing it with anyone so I’ll just claim all the luck as is. Goes great with coffee at breakfast and actually makes great bread for French Toast too. Enjoy!
Ingredients (for one very big pretzel)
4 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 1/2 cups milk, heated to between 100 – 110F
1 stick of butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, mixed with 3 tablespoons milk or cream
1/4 cup pearl sugar or hagelzucker (substitute coarse white sugar)
In the work bowl of your stand mixer, add one cup of the flour, and sprinkle over 1/2 cup of the sugar, and the yeast. Melt the butter and heat the milk until it is just warm to the touch, between 100 and 110F. Mix the butter and the milk into the dry ingredients and let sit for 15 minutes to let the yeast activate. Then add in the remaining sugar, flour and salt. Using the dough hook, combine until the dough is well combined and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Kneed by hand until the dough forms a ball. Cover the dough and allow it to rise for about 1 hour in a warm place.
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a cookie sheet with silpat or parchment paper.
Once the dough has risen, divide one quarter from the main ball and set aside. Roll the remaining dough into one long snake, with the middle being the fattest and tapering slightly at the ends. Shape into a pretzel on the prepared baking sheet. Divide the remaining quarter of the dough into three equal pieces and roll into long, even snakes. Braid together.
Whisk together the egg wash and generously brush the entire pretzel. On the bottom part, attach the braid and if you can, tuck the ends under where the “arms” of the pretzel attach. Brush that with more egg was and sprinkle with the hagelzucker. Let rest and rise again for about 15 minutes. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack before serving.