Even though I live here in Oregon (8 years) I am originally from a town just south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We had many great food traditions that I have not seen here in the Pacific Northwest. I grew up on Pork & Sauerkraut on New Year’s Day, Isaly’s chipped ham made into BBQ sandwiches, Holuski (cabbage & noodles), Pierogies, Golabki (Stuffed Cabbage) and many more. One of the traditions I brought with me is making a New Year’s Pretzel. This is a large pretzel made with a sweet bread dough and glazed with a confectioners sugar icing. It is said you need to eat a piece at midnight New Year’s Eve or before breakfast on New Year’s day to bring you good luck for the coming year. The recipe below makes two pretzels so I decided to make one the traditional way and to start a new tradition by making the second one with Fresh From Oregon flavors and I added cranberries and hazelnuts! Once you make these pretzels and taste them you will be making them each year and starting your own family tradition.
New Year’s Sweet Pretzel
1 1/2 cups milk, scalded and skimmed
1/2 cup sugar
4 ounces (1 stick) butter
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
6 to 7 cups Bob’s Red Mill flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 pound confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
5-6 Tablespoons water
1/4 cup ground walnuts
Put the scalded milk, sugar and butter into the bowl of a stand mixer and let stir until the butter and sugar are dissolved. In another small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water with a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. It should begin to foam in about 5 minutes. Add 5 cups of flour, 1 tablespoon of salt, the yeast mixture and the 2 eggs to the milk mixture. Use a dough hook to mix until it is a soft, even batter. Add more flour 1/2 cup at a time until a soft dough forms. Continue to knead until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl. Take the dough out on a lightly floured board and give it a few turns to form a smooth ball. Put it into a greased bowl and cover. Let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Turn the dough out onto the board and divide in half. Roll each half into a long rope (36″ long) and shape into a pretzel. Lay the pretzel onto a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and allow to rise for another hour. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes until dark golden-brown. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Make a frosting by mixing the confectioner’s sugar with the almond extract (or vanilla if you prefer) and enough water to make a spreadable icing. Pour the icing over the bread and sprinkle with the walnuts. I have seen these also decorate with the toasted almond slices and candied cherries.
Shaping a Pretzel
1. Roll into a 36″ rope
2. Shape into a horseshoe shape with open ends towards you
3. Cross right side over left and create a circle on the top
4. Cross left side over right
5. Bring ends up to the top and press into the dough
Fresh From Oregon New Year’s Pretzel
To add the Pacific Northwest to this pretzel add about 1/2 cup of dried cranberries and 1/4 cup finely chopped hazelnuts to dough when you divide it in half and before you roll it into a rope. After you glazed the pretzel sprinkle with with dried cranberries and hazelnuts.
Recipe from: Pittsburgh Magazine
Charlotte Colbert says
Thank you so much for this recipe. I live 15 miles south of Pittsburgh, but I have never actually made a New Year’s Pretzel. I have always bought one. This year I decided to make one since I’ve been have some good luck with bread baking. Your recipe was the only one I found that seemed authentic. Have a Happy New Year!