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There are endless things to love about fall. The soups, the foliage, cozy sweaters, and my favorite, Oktoberfest. Between late September through October, my husband and try and pay a visit to at least a few Oktoberfest related gatherings. Sure, we go for the beer — but, what I get most excited for? (This should come as no surprise) — the food. More specifically, the giant pretzels. Which is why I am most excited about this soft pretzel recipe.
Please take a minute and think about how gratifying it is to bite into a warm soft pretzel after smothering it in spicy mustard. I’m talking mustard so spicy, it burns all the way up your nose and into your brain. It’s the best, right? At each Oktoberfest, I order a pretzel so large — larger than my face– and say I’ll ‘share’ it with the group (ha!). But, who am I kidding? I know down deep inside I’ll finish that baby up in just three bites.
Much like every other social gathering this year, Oktoberfest will have to wait. Multiple life-size steins of beer carried synchronously by beer maidens through busy, noisy beerhalls – maybe next year. But, those giant pretzels? Those giant pretzels most certainly do not have to wait. In fact, you can have them today with this soft pretzel recipe.
What is a pretzel?
Have you ever really stopped and thought about what a pretzel is anyway? Something you’ve eaten your whole life and never really gave it a second thought? According to History.com, ‘Some say they [pretzels] were originally called “bracellae,” the Latin term for “little arms,” from which Germans later derived the word “bretzel.”’
Basically, pretzels are a type of bread pastry that’s baked and tied into a knot. The ingredients are simple – water, butter, sugar, salt, yeast. But, for this soft pretzel recipe, I am bringing in other Oktoberfest flavors – we’ll the only other one that matters, and that is beer!
What equipment do I need?
I can’t believe how easy this soft pretzel recipe is. Not to mention, it’s really fun to do! A great weekend activity with the kids, your significant other, or yourself. I find kneading and shaping the dough very therapeutic.
In terms of equipment you’ll need, it’s pretty basic
- A Kitchen Aid Mixer (one of my favorite kitchen must-haves)
- A dutch oven (another one of kitchen must-haves)
- Mixing bowls
- Sheet pan
- Cutting board
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How do I form it into a pretzel shape?
This part is very easy! Once you’re ready to form your pretzels, cut between 1/3-1/4 cup of dough and roll it between your hands to form a long strip of dough. Then, on a floured cutting board, position the dough into a U-shape. Finally grab each end and pinch it to the bottom of the U-Shape. You may need to practice on one before getting the hang of it.
Once you have all your pretzels shaped on a cutting board. You’ll have to boil it in a baking soda bath (in your dutch oven) for about one minute before baking. The baking soda will help give the pretzel its shiny brown surface due to a chemical reaction called the Maillard reaction so don’t skip this step!
I really hope you make this and keep it in your repertoire. It’s fun, brings a little bit of the Oktoberfest seasonal flare to your kitchen, and oh yea, tastes amazing! Find the spiciest mustard you can, you’ll need it.
- 1 packet of yeast
- 1 cup of warm water
- 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
- 5 - 5 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
- 6 tbsp melted butter, divided
- 1 12oz can of beer
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 egg, scrambled
- 3 tsp of baking soda
- course salt
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. In the bowl of a stand-alone mixer, mix yeast, water, and brown sugar. Give it a little mix and cover for 5 minutes. The yeast should begin to foam. If it doesn't foam after 5 minutes, your yeast is dead and you'll have to buy fresh. Sprinkle flour on a large cutting board and set aside. Grease a large mixing bowl and set aside. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Mix in 4 tbsp of melted butter, salt, flour, and a full can of beer. Turn on your mixer on low and incorporate ingredients. If your dough is too wet, add 1 tbsp of flour at a time until the dough no longer sticks to the side of the bowl.
- Pour dough onto your floured cutting board and knead for about 3 minutes. Shape your dough into a ball and place it into your greased mixing bowl. Cover the bowl in a warm area of the house (not next to a cold open window) with a damp kitchen towel and let rise for about 1 hour. It should double in size.
- Boil water in a large dutch oven with baking soda. Once the dough has doubled in size, cut about 1/4-1/3 cup of dough at a time and with your hands, roll into a long string shape. The dough should be about 1/2 inch thick and about 2 feet long. If it's too thin, add more dough. Cover the rest of the dough you're not using to avoid it from drying out.
- Shape your pretzel: Position your long piece of dough in a U-shape and pinch each end to the opposite side to form a pretzel shape. Continue until the dough is finished. If the dough is sticky, add more flour.
- Add a few pretzels at a time to boiling water for about 1 minute. With tongs, take out each pretzel and place on parchment paper-lined sheet pan. Continue until all pretzels have been boiled. Brush on a little bit of egg wash (the scrambled egg). With the remaining 2 tbsp of melted butter, brush on butter and salt.
- Cook in the oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown.