Original article published at TasteAtlas.
Considered an iconic symbol of Germany, the pretzel is a type of traditional baked good that is made by combining flour, salt, malt, yeast, and water. The resulting dough is then shaped into the characteristic knotted shape of a pretzel before it is baked to perfection.
Pretzels are often dipped in a lye solution (natronlauge in German) before they are baked, and then they are called laugenbrezel, a Bavarian-style pretzel distinguished by a nice, brown and crispy exterior that surrounds a soft interior.
Coarse salt is the most traditional for sprinkling the surface of the pretzels, but other toppings may also be used such as sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or poppy seeds. Regional variations of the pretzel abound, with some using fat to obtain a softer dough and others calling for different types of flour such as whole wheat flour or spelt flour.
German pretzels come in both sweet and savory versions, and their texture may range from soft to hard. They are usually enjoyed warm as a snack with butter or along with German wurst sausages and a cold German beer on the side for an authentic German experience.
The pretzel is a favorite street snack and a staple at any festival, holiday, and Christmas market in the country. Pretzel’s versatile nature has given rise to numerous variations including New Year’s pretzels (neujahrbrezel), Oktoberfest pretzels (also called wiesnbrezn), and Lent pretzels (fastenbrezeln), among many others.