Sunday, January 8, 2012


I attended a wonderful workshop yesterday led by Mark Buckham and if you've never taken one of her workshops, you are missing out on great information. I came home and immediately rewrote my first chapter for the historical western I'm drafting. Got my hooks all in place and ready to wow my readers. (big grin).

As it was an all day workshop, we were asked to bring a treat for lunch. I spent half a day Friday baking bretzelies and as they were a huge hit, I had several ask for the recipe and information on the iron. This was a cookie my great grandmother made. She brought the recipe from Switzerland and used an iron that had to be placed in the coals, a very time-consuming process I imagine. My grandmother carried on the tradition but used an electric iron. The last one she bought came from a company in Wisconsin. The cookie is also known as a bratzeli, bricelet or cracknel. Of course she bought her iron in 1976, but I did find a company in Wisconsin that still sells them. You can check it out here.

My grandmother's recipe is very similar to the one that's printed on the iron I have.

Bretzeli Cookies

½ ib sweet cream butter (unsalted)
2 ¼  cups sugar
4 eggs slightly beaten
4 ¼ cups flour
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Juice of ½ lemon (plus a few drops)
Pinch of salt added to eggs
Cream sugar and butter in rather large bowl. Add slightly beaten eggs with salt added. Add grated rind & lemon juice. Mix well. Add flour, one cup at a time, and mix well until forms a large ball. Cover & place in refrigerator overnight or at least for 3 to 4 hours.
Flour hands well before rolling dough into small balls, a tad larger than the size of a marble.  Flour hands often as necessary to avoid sticking to hands.
Preheat iron about 10 – 15 minutes & begin baking 4 balls at a time, placing one in each design section. Close iron and press handles together very slightly. Count to 21 (no more than 25 depending on iron) and about the rate your heart beats. Remove light, golden-brown cookies from iron with table knife or wooden spatula provided with iron. Repeat until all are baked.
Cool well then store in air-tight container. These Swiss cookies improve with age and will keep up to three weeks without tasting stale. Recipe makes 14 – 15 dozen cookies.
Trick: When I bake the cookies, I lay out two cookie sheets next to iron. When they come out hot, I place on one cookie sheet. As the cool, I move them to second cookie sheet to make room for the next batch on the first cookie sheet. When they completely cool, I stack them on the end of the second cookie sheet, still leaving room to the rotation of semi-cool cookies. I suggest you have a helper the first or second time you bake these. Mom and I used to make them together and I remember the fun we had. Now, I do them by myself and it takes about an hour to bake them all. Another trick is to make the balls small enough that they come out pretty. Mom always made them too big and we’d have to trim the edges to make them pretty.


Judythe Morgan said...

These are beyond wonderful. I "stole" what was left over from the meeting. LOL Thanks for bringing them, Ciara. And, more thanks for sharing the recipe.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Yummy! I couldn't help but eat a handful despite my diet! :-)

Ciara Gold said...

I know. They're addictive - right? I only make them once a year and for very special occasions. The fact I hadn't seen all of you in forever and I finally got to see you was just such an occasion. "big grin"

Heidi Gallichan said...

I tried this recipe and was pretty pleased with the result....much like what my dear Muetti used to make but she had a great big plate iron contraption which she held over the gas flame. I now have a little electric thing. I was just wondering you think it would be possible to make successful bretzeli using gluten free flour as my Brother in law has Coeliac Disease?

Ciara Gold said...

Sorry, it took so long to reply. I was away for Christmas. I've experimented a little with gluten free flours on other recipes and well, the flavor is rather weird. I think you would just have to experiment to see which of the various flours gave you the best result. Probably not the answer you were looking for, eh?

Robyn Werth said...

What part of Switzerland was your great grandmother from? What shape was her iron? Did she roll them or were they flat? My cousin has my great grandmothers iron. She was from the French part of Switzerland. The iron is rectangle and makes 2 cookies. I am trying to find more info on the history of this delight. Seems to me at this point to be a combination of Italian and Norweigan cookies.

Ciara Gold said...

Sorry I'm so late in replying. For whatever reason your comment went to moderation and I'm buried in school stuff right now so not checking on the blog like I should.

Great grandmother came from Trélex. My great grandfather was from Trogen. I don't have the original iron. More's the pity, but my grandmother bought an electric iron when I was in high school. She'd gone to visit Switzerland. That iron doesn't work well any more but my mom bought an iron from Wisconsin that seems to work great. It makes four cookies at a time.

Tess Imobersteg said...

I am trying a variation of a couple of Bretzeli recipes since the last time I moved the book that came with my Sigg Bretzeli Iron got list. I lived in Switzerland for many years and my iron makes round cookies. My mother's family is from Denmark and Norway and their classic holiday cookie, Krumkake, is so close it is virtually the same. Mom always had an iron that fit over a gas burner on the stove and the Krumkake would either be cooled flat or rolled into a small cone shape to be filled with cream.

Ciara Gold said...

Thanks for visiting and letting me know about Krumkakes. My great grandmother had some sort of iron that she laid over the open fire but of course it's lost to us. I've just heard tales. Right now, my iron is in storage and I'm missing it. I didn't get to make my Christmas cookies this year but hopefully I'll get back to it next year. I'd like to try other recipes as well. Again, thanks for visiting.