Feeling stressed these days? Burdened by your troubles, the news, life in general? Don’t get yourself twisted in a knot. Break out some dough and twist it into pretzels! It’s therapeutic, it is fun to make, delicious to eat, and is a perfect snack with a stein of beer for an Oktoberfest celebration this month.
Oktoberfest, a beer celebration, first became famous on Oct. 12, 1810 for the wedding of the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig, who became King Louis I, to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. The festivities lasted about five days and ended with a horse race.
Oktoberfest in Munich is a time for fun and laughter, with most everyone dressed in traditional Bavarian garb. The men can be seen in their lederhosen, and the women wear dirndls (a three-piece outfit of a white blouse, a skirt and an apron).
Among some of the traditional foods eaten during this festival are Knodel (German soft pancakes), wurstl (sausages), roast chicken, roast pork, sauerkraut, kasespatzle (cheese noodles), and of course, tasty local beer and “brezen” or pretzels.
Pretzels are made out of a bread dough by rolling out the dough into a rope and twisting the rope so that the center is a loose knot. The pretzel is boiled for a short period of time (this gives them a tuggy, delightfully chewy texture) and then glazed with egg, salted and baked. It is typically eaten as a snack.
Sadly, the Oktoberfest in Munich won’t be held this year due to the pandemic. However, you can bring it to life in your own home. Try baking giant, soft, chewy pretzels to cheer you up and make your own Oktoberfest festival in your home. Here’s a recipe to get you started.
4 to 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 ½ cups milk
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons salt
3 quarts boiling water
1 slightly beaten egg white
1 tablespoon water
Sesame seed, poppy seed, or coarse salt
1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together 1 ½ cups of the flour and the yeast; set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat and stir milk, sugar, oil and the 1 teaspoon salt until warm (120° to 130°). Add milk mixture to the dry mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping side of bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.
2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (6 to 8 minutes total). Shape the dough into a ball. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface. Cover; let rise in a warm place until double in size (about 1 ¼ hours).
3. Punch dough down. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover dough; let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly grease baking sheets; set aside.
4. Roll dough into a 12 x 10” rectangle. Cut into twenty 12 x ½” strips. Gently pull each strip into a 16” long rope. Shape ropes into pretzels: – About 4” from each end of a rope, cross one end over the other. Twist once at the crossover point. Fold ends up over the edge of circle. Moisten ends; tuck them under bottom edge of circle. Press to seal.
5. Carefully place pretzels on prepared baking sheets. Bake in a 475° oven for 4 minutes. Remove pretzels from oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°.
6. Dissolve the 2 tablespoons of salt in the boiling water. Lower pretzels 3 or 4 at a time, into boiling water. Boil for 2 minutes, turning once. Using a slotted spoon, remove pretzels from water; drain on paper towels. Let stand a few seconds. Grease baking sheets well. Place pretzels about ½” apart on the prepared baking sheets.
7. In a small mixing bowl, stir together egg white and the 1 tablespoon water. Brush pretzels with some of the egg white mixture. Sprinkle pretzels lightly with sesame seed, poppy seed or coarse salt. Bake in the 350° oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden. Transfer to wire racks; cool completely.