In a twist for Oktoberfest
Big, soft pretzels are a mainstay of any Oktoberfest. | Melissa Elsmo~For Sun-Times Media
Oktoberfest-inspired Soft Pretzels
This recipe makes 6-8 generous pretzels. I chose to serve my brezeln alongside a simple beer cheese soup, but they would be equally lovely served with assorted mustards or your favorite herb, bean, or spinach dip.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon honey
¼ cup water (more or less as needed)
Olive oil, coarse salt, and dried herbs for finishing
Warm the milk slightly and combine with honey and yeast and let sit for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. With the machine running on low gradually add the warm milk mixture. Increase the speed to medium and mix until a soft dough forms. Dough should clean the sides of the bowl, but stick slightly to the bottom of the bowl. If mixture appears too dry add the water; if dough appears too wet add a little more flour.
After mixing, turn the dough onto a floured surface and shape into a ball. Place dough into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until double in size, about 1 hour.
Punch the dough down to release the gasses and divide into 6-8 equal sections. Roll the sections into 18-inch long ropes and twist rope into a traditional pretzel shape. Cover shaped pretzels with a towel and allow to rise for 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and fill a large pan with water and bring to a boil. Place the pretzels two at a time into the boiling water and cook for about 1 minute. Transfer the boiled pretzels to a parchment lined baking sheet.
Brush the pretzels with olive oil and sprinkle with salt or the dried herbs of your choosing. Bake pretzels for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly and serve warm.
Double Duty Dough: This dough can also be made into bagels. Roll each of the 8 sections into a ball. Poke your finger through the center and twirl it to expand the hole, creating a bagel shape. Proof, boil, bake and season as directed.
Updated: October 9, 2012 5:16PM
Somewhere along the line soft pretzels became synonymous with malls. So you can find shops peddling sour cream and onion seasoned baked dough twists tucked between Forever 21 and Spencer’s Gifts in most shopping centers across America.
But they’re less Lacoste than they are lederhosen. Softly looped pretzels have been part of the German mainstream for far longer than any shopping arena has been open for business in the United States.
For more than 200 years, Munich has been celebrating all things Bavarian during the annual Oktoberfest, which begins in September and runs through early October. The quintessentially German festival is the largest in the world and lasts for an average of 17 days. Daily festivities center on regional music, German beer, and a host of domestic dishes.
Bratwurst, sauerkraut, sauerbraten, and weinerschnitzel reign supreme among the staple dishes of Germany, but the humble soft pretzel, known as Wiesn Brezn, is a mainstay of any Oktoberfest celebration.
Like bagels, soft German pretzels are boiled and baked. This dual cooking process gives the finished bread the signature chewiness millions of fairgoers clamor for.
Don your dirndl skirt and bust out the beer steins! Whipping up a batch of savory German Brezeln is the perfect way to welcome the change of season and celebrate Oktoberfest at home. ~.