[Sca-cooks] Not bagels, pretzels

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Thu May 3 13:40:40 PDT 2007

On May 3, 2007, at 4:04 PM, Gretchen Beck wrote:

> FWIW, here's what the OED says about the etymology of the word  
> pretzel,
> which encompasses both words and definitions used here. It sounds  
> like the
> argument is "what is the nearest modern equivalent" rather than  
> "what is
> this thing really":

I've been thinking along similar lines. Without doing any serious  
etymological work, it seems a quite reasonable possibility (until  
someone comes up with a good reason for believing otherwise) that  
"pretzel" either shares common roots with, or is derived from,  
brazzatelle, with perhaps some rater minor corruption. Certainly when  
pronounced correctly, it seems like they'd sound quite similar.

Regarding the translation as "bagel", maybe we're placing too much  
expectation on the modern Jewish type bagel, made with high-gluten  
wheat flour, boiled and baked. Since we don't seem to see too much  
high-gluten flour being used in period Europe (although Italy may be  
an exception), isn't it possible, somewhere along the line, the  
equivocation with bagels is being stressed too heavily?

I mean, there's evidence of a ring-shaped bread product in Viking-era  
Scandinavia, which, as far as I know, resembles bagels only in shape  
(aren't they unleavened barley?), but some translator, somewhere  
along the line, was satisfied with that word being used. Maybe we  
shouldn't get too caught up in the question of brazzatella and  
whether they're bagels or pretzels...

Hey, to me they look like jumbles anyway ;-)

Adamantius the only-sometimes-online

> [< German Bretzel kind of bread roll, made from a thin length of dough
> twisted into a knot and coated with brine before baking (now usu.  
> Brezel;
> Old High German as brzila, Middle High German brzel, przel, przile) <
> post-classical Latin bracellus kind of cake or biscuit (12th cent.),
> shortened < an unattested post-classical Latin form *brachiatellus  
> (cf.
> post-classical Latin bracidelli (plural) bakery items (in an undated
> glossary)) < classical Latin brachitus, bracchitus BRACHIATE adj. (cf.
> post-classical Latin braciatus (noun) kind of cake eaten on monastic
> holidays (11th cent.)) + -ellus -ELLUS suffix; so called on account  
> of the
> resemblance to folded arms. Cf. Italian bracciello a kind of cake,  
> simnel,
> or biscuit (1598 in Florio).
>   Cf. (< post-classical Latin *brachiatellus) Old High German  
> brzitella,
> Old Occitan bressadel, brassadel kind of ring-shaped cake (1480;  
> Occitan
> braçadèl type of cake made with eggs, cake in the shape of a braid),
> Italian bracciatello kind of ring-shaped cake (second half of the 15th
> cent., also as bracciatella).
>   The English form with initial p- prob. represents a perception of  
> the
> unaspirated pronunciation of b- in regional German (south.).]
> toodles, margaret
> --On Thursday, May 03, 2007 3:50 PM -0400 Mairi Ceilidh
> <jjterlouw at earthlink.net> wrote:
>> With all due respect to His Grace, Master Cariadoc, I must, as I  
>> did when
>> we had this discussion at Pennsic two years ago, disagree with his
>> interpretation of the translation of this recipe.  I am not the  
>> person who
>> taught the class referenced here, but I have translated, researched,
>> interpreted and prepared this recipe.  I did an Art/Sci entry  
>> based on it
>> some years ago.
>> My main concern is the necessity to leave the language in which to  
>> recipe
>> was originally written, and go elsewhere to stretch an association of
>> words.
>> In the 1611 edition of John Florio's Italian/English dictionary,  
>> which
>> uses Messisbugo's Libre Novo (the book in which thich recipe is
>> published) as a word source, we find a reference to the word  
>> brazzetto
>> which sends us to the alternates spelling braccietto.  Braccietto
>> translates to "a little arm" or "bracer".  The OED tells us that a  
>> bracer
>> is something that goes around the arm as a protector (loosely  
>> interpreted
>> from multiple references).  The circular form of a bagel is much more
>> likely to match this definition than the multi-twist form of a  
>> pretzel.
>> Extend the search to other forms of the word in Florio's  
>> dictionary and
>> we find Bracciatillo, a kind of roule or bisket bread, we call  
>> them round
>> simnels.
>> It seems obvious that it is not necessary to go outside the Italian
>> language to discern what Messisbugo is making in this recipe.  Rolls
>> formed in a circle.  Maybe not bagels, but certainly not pretzels.
>> Actually, it doesn't matter what you call the things.  They are  
>> good, and
>> well worth the effort to make.  Here is my interpretation of the  
>> recipe:
>> Brazzatelle Di Latte, E Zuccaro
>> Modern Redaction (as I interpreted the translation and prepared the
>> recipe)
>> 4 pounds bread flour
>> 1 ½ T. rose water
>> 1C. milk
>> ¾ C. sugar
>> 6 large eggs
>> 2T. butter
>> 2 t. salt
>> 1 T. active dry yeast
>> 1C. warm water
>> Several pinches anise seeds (optional)
>> Dissolve yeast in 1 C. warm water and set aside.
>> Scald the milk in a small saucepan, add the butter and allow to  
>> melt, 	add
>> the rosewater and cool.
>> In a large bowl, beat the eggs well.  Add the yeast and milk  
>> mixtures and
>> stir well.
>> Add about 4 cups of flour and the salt to the liquid mixture.   
>> Stir until
>> roughly combined; continue adding flour, about a cup at the time  
>> until it
>> is difficult to stir.  Turn onto a floured surface and knead until  
>> the
>> dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding flour if  
>> needed.
>> Leave the dough to rise, punch down.  Cut dough into 4 ounce pieces.
>> Shape each piece as you like; preferably roll into a rope about 12  
>> inches
>> long, joining the ends to make a ring.  Place the rolls on an oiled
>> baking sheet and allow to rise for 45 minutes, or until about  
>> double in
>> size. Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Heat a large pot fill with water  
>> to a
>> simmer. Boil the rolls, four to six at the time (do not let them be
>> crowded in the pot) for about five minutes on each side, or until  
>> they
>> are well puffed and float.  Place the boiled rolls on an oiled baking
>> sheet, sprinkle with anise seeds, if desired.  Bake for 40  
>> minutes, or
>> until golden brown.
>> If anyone would like a copy of my documentation, which is four  
>> years old
>> and possibly not as detailed as it might be were I writing it today,
>> please contact me with your email address.  It is in a word document
>> which I can send as an attachment.
>> Mairi Ceilidh
>> Messibugio has a recipe which I originally encountered in a class at
>> Pennsic some years ago, with the title translated as "Bagels of milk
>> and sugar." The italian original is "Brazzatelle di latte, e
>> zuccaro." When we tried the recipe, it occurred to me that the
>> process--boil then bake--could describe either bagels or pretzels, as
>> would the implication of some specific (but not stated) shape. And
>> the name could be related to "bracelets" for bagels, or to "pretzel."
>> It finally occurred to me to check the etymology of "pretzel."
>> "[German Brezel, Pretzel, from Middle High German bremacr.gifzel,
>> premacr.gifzel, from Old High German brezitella, ...
>> I think that's close enough to establish a strong presumption that
>> it's a pretzel recipe.
>> --
>> David/Cariadoc
>> www.daviddfriedman.com
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