October 11, 2012

Oktoberfest


I absolutely love German soft pretzels.  The soft pretzels we have here in the US are very different, still delicious, but are not even close to what you would get in a tent at the real Oktoberfest.  Pretzel styles and tastes in Germany are also somewhat regional, they taste a little bit different in each town you go to.  My family claims to come from the town with the best pretzels in Germany (go figure), but they may be right... they are so yummy!  It is a tradition to have a big pretzel with a liter of beer at Oktoberfest in Munich, so with it being October, I decided to try my hand at a homemade batch of my own!

Interesting fact: what makes German pretzels so different? They are actually made with lye, yes, LYE. It's what gives the pretzels that perfectly dark brown crispy crust while keeping the inside soft and delicious. Food grade lye is pretty hard to find, so I went with a baking soda method. It does a good job and produces scrumptious pretzels, but it won't give you the traditional pretzel that I was craving.

"Read more" for the recipe! Happy Thursday lovies!



German Oktoberfest Pretzels:

(I modified a recipe I found here as the first time I made dough based exactly on those instructions it was far too sticky and unworkable, so I called my mama and got some tips- thanks mom!)

- 1 package active dry yeast
- 2 cups warm water (Caution! It is very important to have the water hot enough to activate the yeast. I heated the water on the stove until it was about 120 degrees)
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 5 cups flour (originally I added 4.5 cups, but the dough was sticky so I added a bit more- but be careful! Too much flour will make the dough tough!)
- baking soda

Prep: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

To make the dough: Place yeast in a large bowl and add 1 cup of the warm water and brown sugar. Stir well until all of the yeast and sugar is dissolved.  Add remaining water, salt, and flour.  Mix and knead until dough is not sticky and can be easily handled.  Separate the dough into 8 pieces (more or less depending on how big/small you want the pretzels) and twist into pretzel shapes.

The magic trick:  Boil about 3 tbsp baking soda in a pot of water. Water should be at least 3 inches high. Set to simmer after it has reached a boil. Submerge pretzels in (one at a time) into pot and let sit about 10-15 seconds. Place on baking sheet, horizontally slice the bottom "U" of the pretzel and salt as desired.

Bake for 18-20 mins or until browned to your liking. Baking soda will only render a light brown color, lye will give you the dark color. 

Serve with sweet mustard or butter.

Good luck!

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