It’s that time of year – the leaves are starting to change color, football is on nearly ever day of the week it seems, and pumpkin spice lattes are back! It’s fall! And what better way to kick-off the Oktoberfest season then with Soft Pretzels. I had the distinct pleasure many years ago of attending Oktoberfest in Munich, and I must say it was one of the best experiences of my life. It was pure fun meeting, singing and dancing with people from all over the globe all the while enjoying pretzels the size of your head and German Beer in steins about the same size!
Reminiscing about by my time at Oktoberfest, I was inspired to recreate the “Bretzel” (as the Germans call it) one fall day a few years later. It has been a staple of mine every since, making at least once a year for Superbowl. I make them in a more modest “snack” size to be enjoyed by many. As the dough needs some time to rise, it is best to start on a fall Saturday afternoon, let the dough rise overnight, and finish up Sunday morning to enjoy eating during your Sunday football watching. Hope you enjoy – Go Bears!
- 2 cups warm water 105-110 degrees
- 3/4 cup brown sugar packed
- 2 packages rapid rise yeast (1/4 ounce/packet)
- 6.5 cups unbleached bread flour
- 1 stick cold unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp coarse kosher salt
- 1/2 cup beer pale ale style is best
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- Cut stick of butter into small pieces
- In a medium-sized bowl, mix together warm water, yeast and 1/2 cup of packed brown sugar, let sit until foamy (around 10 minutes)
- In the electric mixer bowl, combine flour and course salt. Then add small pieces of butter and mix with hands until mixture is crumbly.
- Add yeast/water mixture to bowl and continue to mix with hands until water is absorbed and dough becomes shaggy-like.
- Mix the dough in the electric mixer using the dough hook attachment at medium speed until tight and smooth looking. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
- After refrigerating, roll dough out into a 14×12 inch rectangle. Cut dough into around 12 strips (1 inch wide by 14 inch long). (for 24 pretzels reduce size to 1/2 inch wide).
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with rack in upper third. While oven is warming up, work with each strip of dough, one piece at a time, to form the desired pretzel shape. (To form the shape: evenly roll out the cut strip so as to form a snake, cross each end of strip over the other at about 1/3 of the way down on each end forming a tear drop like shape, then attach the cross point down at the base of the tear drop and press thumb down at the connection point to make sure it attaches/sticks.
- Lightly spray two baking sheets (9×13) with cooking spray. In a wide stockpot, combine 8 cups water, baking soda, beer, and remaining 1/4 cup packed brown sugar; bring to a simmer over medium-high. Simmer pretzels, one at a time, about 30 seconds each, if they float to the top after a few seconds, hold them under surface of water. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. (You can gently reshape pretzels if they become misshapen.)
- Add any desired toppings to pretzels (for example, pretzel salt, cheese, seeds, etc.) before putting in the oven. Bake pretzels for 5 minutes then rotate baking tray and bake for another 4-6 minutes until darker brown.
- Let cool slightly, but serve warm. Serve with various types of mustard and dipping sauces.