Happy Oktoberfest ~ Soft Pretzels

Happy Oktoberfest!

The world’s largest fair is being held in Munich Germany right now. I love the fact that it started as a wedding celebration about 200 years ago, and it continues today. Now *that* is a wedding reception! 😉

World celebrations and holidays give me a fun excuse to try recipes from different countries. To be a part of this celebration, I decided to try making one of my favorite German treats – Soft pretzels. I have to admit, this is not the first time I have attempted these, but they were nothing to write home about before. 😉 However, this latest attempt was a great success! They were so delicious and tender and comforting. Perfect to pair with a cold Oktoberfest beer. 🙂

I used a recipe from Alton Brown this time. I followed it closely other than one deviation – I replaced the butter with Earth Balance, which worked beautifully. The result was worth the time and effort. Really, is there anything better than fresh baked bread? 🙂

Soft Pretzels

Recipe courtesy of the Food Network and Alton Brown

1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 package active dry yeast

22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups

2 ounces unsalted butter, melted (or Earth Balance)

Vegetable oil, for pan

10 cups water

2/3 cup baking soda

1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Pretzel salt

Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter (or Earth Balance) and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

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