Catholic Recipe: Pretzels
The one traditional Lenten food is the pretzel. In the early Church the rules of fasting did not allow meat, dairy products or eggs. These small breads made from flour, water and salt were made to accompany the simple meals of fish, fruits and vegetables. The breads were shaped in the forms of arms crossed in prayer to keep a reminder that Lent was a time of prayer and penance. The Latin term for these was bracellae, or "little arms" (bracellae). The word "pretzel" comes from the German word brezel or prezel.
Let the warm water, yeast and sugar stand for 1 hour. Mix with the flour into the water mixture. Add the honey to the water; sprinkle in the yeast and stir until dissolved. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Blend in the flour, and knead the dough until smooth.
Cut the dough into pieces. Roll them into ropes and twist into pretzel shapes. You can make small pretzels with thin ropes, or large ones with fat ropes, but remember that to cook at the same rate, your pretzels need to be all the same size.
Place the pretzels on lightly greased cookie sheets. Brush them with beaten egg. Sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake at 425º F. for 12 to 15 minutes, until the pretzels are golden brown.
Recipe Source: Continual Feast, A by Evelyn Birge Vitz, Ignatius Press, San Francisco , 1985