I wish you could smell these right now…
Oktoberfest is here, which means that we need a really yummy soft pretzel recipe to go with all the beer we are planning on drinking, right?
If that applies to you, you’re lucky, my friend! Because these German Soft Pretzels, or Laugenbrezel (if you wanna sound fancy and impress your friends), are so delicious that you might even forget to drink the beer.
Ha! Just kidding! ?
Who would do that? ?❤️?
Oktoberfest is the world’s largest beer festival. It is held annually in Munich and it lasts 16 days! (Holy Beer!)
More than 6 million people from all over the world attend the festival, which usually happens from mid September to the first weekend in October.
The first Oktoberfest took place from Oct 12-17 in 1810 to celebrate the marriage of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. The five day celebration toasted the royal couple and ended with a horse race in the town square. Since that first celebration, festivities were held every year to commemorate the royal marriage. By 1896, the first beer tents were erected, featuring beverages from local Munich breweries to celebrate the regional drink.
Nowadays, several other cities across the world also hold Oktoberfest celebrations, modeled after the original event. I mean, because who doesn’t wanna drink a ton of beer and eat delicious German food?
Take pretzels, for example.
These dark brown, crispy (yet soft inside), salty little guys are the perfect sidekick for an ice cold beer! Add a side of honey mustard or butter and I’m in heaven.
There are several accounts on the origin of pretzels. Some credit them to European monks, others say it was invented in a monastery in South France and there’s even those who believe it is a variation of a Greek ring bread. However, the Laugenbrezel – the German version of pretzels – is credited to the Bavarians. Legend says that on the morning of February 11, 1839, Anton Nepomuk Pfanenbrenner, the baker for the Munich Royal Café, while preparing some sweet pretzels for his guests, accidentally used the Natronlauge (which is the sodium hydroxide solution that they used to clean the bakery countertops) to brush the pretzels instead of sugar-water. He decided to bake the pretzels anyway and was impressed with the unique brown crust, soft center and delicious taste. *major drool*
As you’ll notice in the recipe below, I chose to not do the Natronlauge because of safety. Honestly, I even ordered the stuff from Amazon, but ended up calling them to cancel because not only I am VERY accident prone, I couldn’t possibly sleep peacefully knowing that I posted something on my blog that could get someone hurt.
But do not fret! A baking soda solution is a fine substitute and you won’t risk hurting yourself.
“But, do I really need to do the boiling in baking soda solution step?”
Yes, please! Do not skip it! That step only takes a few minutes and it’s what makes these pretzels out of this world good!
The alkali solution made with baking soda and water (plus beer and brown sugar for extra flavor), is what causes the pretzel to “puff” and get all soft and nice inside. It also gives them their distinctive flavor and dark brown color.
If you skip this part, your pretzel will have a different flavor and texture. Quite frankly, it won’t be a pretzel!
Also, do try to use the Barley malt syrup because it adds this amazing subtle yet complex flavor that is so characteristic to pretzels! (If you cannot get your hands on one, substitute for brown sugar).
As for the Pretzel salt, you can find it on Amazon. Or you can just substitute it for kosher salt!
Now, pass me that honey mustard cause I just took 12 pretzels out of the oven and I can’t possibly wait any longer to devour them.
- 2 cups warm water
- 2 (1/4 ounce) packages rapid-rise yeast
- 2 tablespoons Barley Malt Syrup
- 6½ cups bread flour
- 2 tablespoons coarse salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
- 8 cups water
- ½ cup baking soda
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- ½ cup pale ale beer
- Pretzel salt for sprinkling
- In a mixing bowl, combine the warm water, the yeast and the Barley malt syrup. Let it proof for 10 minutes or until foamy.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the flour and the salt. Add the pieces of butter and, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse sand.
- Pour the yeast mixture into the flour/butter mixture and mix everything until a shaggy dough is formed and water is absorbed.
- Bring the bowl to the stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix on medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes.
- Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let the dough rest and rise in a warm spot for 2 hours or until doubled in size. (Alternatively, you can bring the dough to the fridge overnight. The long, slow rise will help develop more flavor but the dough won’t be as easy to work with.)
- Pre heat oven to 450 degrees.
- Roll the dough out into a large (14-by-12-inch) rectangle and cut it into twelve 12-inch-long strips, about 1 inch wide.
- Roll out each piece into a 30 to 33 inch long rope (about ¾ inch thick), starting from the center and working toward the ends. To form the pretzels, make a "U" shape with the rope and cross the ends over, pinching at the bottom of the "U".
- Prepare 2 (or 3) large baking sheets by spraying them with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large pot, over medium high heat, combine 8 cups of water, the baking soda, beer and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
- Boil the pretzels, one at a time, for about 30 seconds or until they float. Transfer the boiled pretzels to the prepared baking sheet using a perforated spatula. Repeat with remaining pretzels.
- Sprinkle the pretzels with pretzel salt.
- Bake the pretzels for 5 minutes, then rotate the baking sheet and continue baking for 5-8 more minutes or until the pretzels get to a deep dark brown color.
- Remove them from oven and let them cool slightly on a wire rack before serving.
- Serve warm with honey mustard, plain mustard or butter! Don't forget a glass of ice cold beer!
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