Neujahrsbrezel is a large pretzel popular in the Rheinland and other areas in southwestern Germany on New Year’s day to symbolize good luck. Unlike traditional lye pretzels, no boiling is involved before baking and the dough is little sweeter. The top is often sprinkled with pearl sugar instead of coarse salt. It is best warm from the oven or the day it is made, though we still enjoyed it the next day. It would make a beautiful centerpiece to your New Year’s breakfast or brunch.
There are a few different ways you can shape this pretzel. I did the plain pretzel shape, but broke off about 1/4 of the dough and braided it to place on top of the lower section of the pretzel. I love how mine looks like it is smiling. You can also cut the dough into 3 equal pieces, roll each piece out, braid it, and transform it into a braided pretzel. I have seen others shape out the year from small pieces of dough to place on top.
If you add foil to the center, it is easier to remove after the pretzel has cooled a little.