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It's Oktoberfest season and, with so many Texans having a portion of German heritage, it's a season of celebration in the Lone Star State. There are hundreds of Oktoberfest gatherings and events throughout the state, which feature that very important triumvirate of German-inspired goodies: Beer. Sausage. Pretzels.
To get into the spirit, I put on my dirndl, fired up an oven, and tried my hand at sweet and savory pretzels. I also had some help from our friends at BrainDead Brewing. Their chief brewer, Andrew Huerter, came to visit and brought us a sampling of their Oktoberfest-style lager, Gemutlich (which roughly translates to "pleasant, cheerful" or "spirit of the beer garden". You can see Drew and I talking beer, pretzels and baking on our YouTube Channel (link below)!
A big thank you to King Arthur Flour for the great recipe, which I have converted to grams for ease of use.
Ingredients for Pretzels
178 g warm water
260 g unfed starter (learn to make your own starter)
360 g unbleached All Purpose flour
30 g nonfat dry milk powder
14 g sugar
9 g salt
7 g instant yeast
14 g sugar
30 g water
Melted butter (optional)
Pretzel salt or topping of your choice. I used Trader Joe's Everything but the Bagel seasoning for my savory pretzels and a combination of cinnamon and pearl sugar for my sweet pretzels.
Fire your oven to 350 degrees. I recommend bringing the oven temperature fully to 350, spreading your coals out before you begin to make your pretzel dough. The pretzels need to go in the oven directly after being shaped and topped to prevent them from rising.
Mix and knead the dough ingredients — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — to make a cohesive, fairly smooth dough. It should be slightly sticky; if it seems dry, knead in an additional tablespoon or two of water.
Cover the dough and let it rest for 45 minutes. It will rise minimally. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Roll each piece of dough into an 18" rope. Form a "U"shape with the rope. Cross the ends of the rope once, then twist again. Grab the 2 tails of the rope and fold the shape in half, with the tails overlapping the trough of your "U". Voila! Pretzel.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased work surface, fold it over a few times to gently deflate it, then divide it into 12 pieces, each weighing about 70 grams.
Dissolve the 14 g sugar in the 30 g water. Brush the pretzels with the solution, and sprinkle lightly with coarse pretzel salt or the topping of your choice.
Bake the pretzels for 25 to 30 minutes, until they're a light golden brown. You may need to turn and reposition the pretzels in your oven to ensure even baking and color.
Remove the pretzels from the oven, and brush with melted butter, if desired.
Yield: 12 pretzels.
Bonus footage! My interview with Andrew Huerter, Chief Brewer, BrainDead Brewing. We talk beer, pretzels, and baking https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MVTpkFQVJU