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German recipes: My Oma’s Bretzeln (pretzels)

3 pretzels or bretzeln on a wooden board with sea saltMy Oma made a huge batch of Bretzeln or pretzels every month.  She would always bring fresh pretzels to our birthday parties every year and she would freeze all the extras.  When visiting Oma for Kaffee and Kuechen (coffee and cake) she would also take some frozen pretzels (Bretzeln) out from the freezer and heat them up in the oven.  I always (and still do) lather them with butter.  They taste so divine and is one of my absolute favourites!

Fortunately, before Oma passed away, along with one my sisters, we had a cooking class with her and learnt how to make some proper authentic pretzels.

I will say that Oma would dip the pretzels in a very poisonous cleaning product before baking, so you get that lovely smooth finish.  I have discovered an alternative, which I have listed below.  We did joke that the reason Oma lived until she was 92 was because her insides were mummy-fied from all those toxins she inhaled while make our Bretzeln!


  •  500 gr plain flour
  • 100 gr unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 2 sachets yeast (14 gr total)
  • about 250 ml lukewarm milk
  • 6 grams bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • sea salt


In a small bowl, sprinkle in the yeast and mix with a couple of tablespoons of lukewarm water, until you have a thin paste.

Sift the flour into a large bowl.  Add the butter, salt and yeast mix.  Add some of the milk and slowly start kneading with your hands.  Slowly add the remaining milk and continue kneading until you have a dough.  Knead until your hands are clean – this is how my Oma measured the kneading time!

Put a clean tea towel over the bowl and leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size (about 1 hour).

Roll the dough into small bowls (about 1 heaped tablespoon worth).  Roll the dough into long sausages, using two hands, rolling from the middle outwards.  You want the middle to be thicker than the ends, about 1 inch thick in the middle.  Take the ends and twist twice and then press down to form a pretzel shape.

Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F.

Mix the bicarb / baking soda with 2 litres of water in a large clean bowl.

Grease a large flat tray, line with greaseproof paper and grease again with butter.

Using a spatula, flip a pretzel onto the spatula, dip in the bicarb soda mix for about 10 seconds and then flip onto the prepared baking tray.

Using a sharp knife, make a cut into the thickest part of the pretzel (makes it easier if you dip the knife in cold water between each pretzel) and sprinkle the cut with sea salt.

Bake in the hot oven for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the pretzels are golden brown.

These pretzels are delicious just with a some butter when they are lovely and warm.  The Bretzeln can be frozen and reheated in the oven, just like my Oma did.

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