Pretzels are a beloved German food. However, a lot of people have never tried actual German pretzels. Traditional pretzels are soft and delicious as opposed to the popular Americanised pretzels which tend to be crunchier, almost like a thick crisp.
While researching about pretzels last month, we realised that around Christmas, gingerbread pretzels can be found. So, today, we decided to share two recipes with you – our soft Lebkuchengewürz Brezeln (Gingerbread Spice Pretzels) and more conventional cookie Lebkuchen Brezeln (Gingerbread Pretzels).
The Lebkuchengewürz Pretzels are soft, more traditional pretzels. However, they are, as the name suggests, flavoured with gingerbread spice. The gingerbread spice we chose to use is a homemade German one as it tastes really good and there aren’t any other gingerbread spices which really taste like it. We guess we’re actually sharing three recipes with you, then. Yes, we will be sharing our Lebkuchengewürz recipe with you so you can make your own German gingerbread spice wherever you are.
In regards to the Lebkuchen Pretzels, these are small gingerbread cookies which are shaped into pretzels with a chocolate coating on some of them. They are sweet, but not too sweet, and they are a delicious treat which you and your loved ones will be sure to enjoy.
Lebkuchengewürz (Gingerbread Spice)
2.5tsp Ground Cinnamon
1tsp Ground All Spice
1tsp Ground Ginger
3/4tsp Ground Star Anise
1/2tsp Ground Coriander
1/2tsp Ground Green Cardamom
1/2tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/2tsp Ground Mace
(If you can’t find ground cardamom, star anise of mace either buy whole ones and grind them yourself or substitute with 3/4tsp of five-spice. However, it should be noted that substituting with five-spice will make the flavour of your lebkuchengewürz less authentic)
- Combine all the ingredients together and store them in a clean airtight container.
Lebkuchengewürz Brezeln (Gingerbread Spice Pretzels)
Ingredients (makes 8-10)
500g All Purpose Flour
15g Diastatic Malt Powder (substitute with 2tsp of dark brown sugar)
2tbsp Neutral-Tasting Oil (such as vegetable oil | substitute with 40g vegan butter)
245-275ml Cold Water (exact amount needed varies with microclimate in the kitchen)
Course Sea Salt
Diluted Lye Substitution
2tbsp baking soda, baked at 120°C for 1hr
1L Boiling Water
(N.B. Do not let the baked baking soda or solution come in contact with your skin)
- Activate the yeast by combining it with water and half of the malt powder (or substituted dark brown sugar) and letting it sit for 10-15mins.
- Combine all dry ingredients, apart from the coarse sea salt, in a mixing bowl.
- Create a well in the middle of the mixture and pour in the wet ingredients.
- Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ones and knead the dough on a clean flat surface, or in a standing mixer, for 10-15mins (or until smooth and elastic).
- Form the dough into a ball, place it in a bowl and cover the bowl with cling film, a damp towel or a plate that perfectly seals the top of it.
- Place the bowl in a warm draft-free area and let the dough rise for 1hr.
- After proofing the dough, take it out of the bowl and divide it into 8-10 equally weighted pieces.
- Shape each piece into a pretzel by rolling them out into long cylindrical pieces with a thicker middle section, curving them like your forming a circle then double twisting the last few inches of each end of the dough, folding the twisted and towards yourself and pressing the ends into either side of the bottom half of the dough (the bottom half of the initial circle formed).
- Let the pretzels rise for an additional 30mins on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. However, do not cover them during this period.
- After rising, transfer them, on the baking tray to the freezer for an additional 10mins. This is to form a skin which will be needed for the final texture of the pretzels.
- Preheat your oven to 210°C.
- Combine the lye substitution ingredients in a stainless steel pot ensuring that the baked baking soda and mixture do not come in contact with your skin.
- Using a spatula or slotted spoon (preferably, stainless steel), carefully place each pretzel in the baked baking soda mixture or 5-10secs then return them to the baking tray. This process will aid in a darker exterior of the pretzels without the need to significantly increase the cooking time or temperature of the oven.
- Sprinkle each pretzel with course sea salt (as much or as little as desired) and make a slash across the thick part of each pretzel using a sharp knife.
- Bake for 15-20mins or until the dough is brown (noticeably more that ‘golden brown’)
- Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10mins.
Serving Suggestion: Slice in half and fill with a thick spread of cold vegan butter.
Lebkuchen Brezeln (Gingerbread Pretzels)
Ingredients (makes 10)
1tbsp Syrup of Choice (such as Maple Syrup, Agave or Pancake Syrup)
1.5tbsp Neutral-Tasting Oil (such as vegetable oil)
1.5tbsp Oat Cream
80g All Purpose Flour
20g Cornstarch (substitute with Tapioca Starch)
1/4tsp Baking Powder
1/4 Lemon, zested (substitute with Orange zest)
30g Dark Chocolate
0.5-1tbsp Oat Cream
1/2tbsp Brown Sugar
- Combine all the wet ingredients in a bowl.
- Stir in the dry ingredients till a dough forms.
Using clean hands, knead the dough to fully combine the ingredients.
Wrap the dough and place it in the fridge for 1hr (or prep this the night before you plan to bake it).
- Preheat your oven to 190°C.
- Roll out the cookie dough in between two sheets of greaseproof paper until it is cracker-thin, or no more than the thickness of two crackers stacked together.
- Cut off the edges to make them straight.
- Divide the dough into strips that are about 1-2cm thick. If you do not get 10 strips out of the first try, combine the cut out scraps into a ball and set it aside.
- Gently roll each strip into a shoe lace shape then form them into pretzels without double twisting where each end intertwines. Optionally, leave a few strips unrolled, but still gently shape them into pretzle-like shapes.
- Transfer the cookies onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
- Bake in the oven for 10mins.
- Place the combined scraps in the middle of one of the greaseproof papers and cover it with the other one.
- Roll it out again and transfer the rolled dough, still between the greaseproof sheets, to the freezer while the cookies in the oven bake.
- After the cookies are done baking, take them off the baking tray and place them on a plate to cook.
- Take the cookie dough out of the fridge, uncover it, cut off the uneven edges and equally divide it into the remaining number of pretzel strips you need.
- Roll them into shoe lace shapes and shape them into pretzels.
- Place them on the, previously used, baking tray and bake for 10mins.
- As the cookies bake, melt the chocolate bricks in a makeshift bain-marie (a bowl sitting above a pot of boiled water) and stir in the other coating ingredients to make the chocolate coating.
- When the cookies are done cooking and are at room temperature, dip all or some of the cookies in the chocolate coating mixture and set them aside on a plate to set. Optionally, you can place them in a fridge or freezer for a few minutes (5mins, or less, to speed up the setting rate).