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Sweet Bavarian pretzel new holiday tradition

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Updated: January 20, 2013 6:08AM



Early holiday celebrants expunged the cookie baking from their systems a while ago.

The long Thanksgiving weekend gave them a chance to research new recipes, experiment with their favorite varieties and still have time to make trades at cookie exchanges. By now, their plates are filled with an ever replenishing supply of gingerbread, fudge and sugar cookies.

As for those only now finally celebrating the season, the art of holiday cookie baking dabbles between being pointless and being excessive. After all, they’ve already been given platefuls of cookies from those who have been celebrating with this seasonal tradition for well over a month.

Don’t fret if you decide to 86 the cookie baking this year. Just substitute another sweet treat in this age-old tradition’s place. It will add diversity and character to your holiday celebrations.

In a way, a sweet Bavarian pretzel could be the highlight of your 2012 holiday baking.

Merging traditions, this recipe takes an ancient European recipe for a traditional soft pretzel and pulls in small-town German holiday charm for an updated spin on an old classic. While these pretzels are still dusted in a smattering of snowy sugar, their barely-there sweet flavoring is a welcome distraction from your candied cookie collection.

The German name for these pretzels, “allerseelenbrezen,” translates to “all souls’ pretzels.”

The lore behind the pretzel is a little muddled, but some stories say the three holes represent the Holy Trinity. Bavarians will tell you that you only can at these tasty delights on a sunny day because the holes in the pretzel are windows to the sunshine.

Preparation is easy, although timely.

A simple soft pretzel recipe is sweetened with sugar and curd cheese or quark, but if you can’t find curd cheese, just ring out some cottage cheese with a cheesecloth.

Light enough for a snack, but just sweet enough for an after-dinner treat, these pretzels will bring a little bit of variety to your sugar-heavy holiday cookie load.

And if Santa has had too many cookies on Christmas Eve, leave a plate of these pretzels to lighten his palate.

Allerseelenbrezen (sweet soft pretzels)

23/4 cups flour

1/2 cup milk

1 package of active dry yeast

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 cup butter, room temperature, cut into cubes

1 cup curd cheese (or cottage cheese, drained through cheesecloth)

2 eggs

Powdered sugar

Stir together yeast and 11/2 cups warm water in a large bowl, and let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add milk, sugar, salt, lemon zest, butter, eggs and curd cheese. Mix until combined. Add flour and mix until dough is formed. Let sit for about 30 minutes.

Knead and cut into 6 portions. Roll into long strings and fold into pretzels. Cover and let sit 90 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brush with an egg wash and bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.

Adapted from “Allersellenbrezen”
by the Viking Riverboat chefs



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