Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Soft German Pretzels
There are some things in this world that are meant to be enjoyed with a massive, cold glass of beer.
Soft, doughy, salty pretzels are meant to be eaten hot, straight from the oven and each mouthful washed down by a frothy, chilled ale. In Munich there is no small size of beer. You get the stein whether you asked for it or not. Ask for a gin and tonic and they will laugh you out of town, throwing pretzels after you as you run out of the establishment with your Lonely Planet guide between your legs.
The Augustiner Keller in Munich is one of those very places. Set in a humongous building, complete with underground beer hall where you sit on thick wooden benches and drink your weight in golden liquid. The waiters are brisk and dressed in black and white lederhosen-style clothing, the un-tacky kind.
We were seated around a giant barrel that acted as a table and a bowl of freshly baked, warm pretzels was plonked in front of us. They didn't ask what we would like to drink, just how many beers we wanted. Ed ordered the biggest array of sausages either of us had ever seen, (one cut into the shape of an octopus, an octo-sausage!), and I tucked into the pork knuckle, complete with a crunchy ribbon of salty crackling encircling the meat. There was not a scrap of lettuce leaf to be found anywhere and we were certainly not looking for any. You order chicken in Bavaria, and a whole roast chicken will turn up on your plate. Your order a pretzel, and it will be bigger than your head.
We stumbled back to the hostel that night as full as can be, and proceeded to have a warm pretzel for breakfast from that day on. I have missed them so much and decided to try and relive the Bavarian memory at home. They were pretty close to the real thing if I do say so myself, although I definitely need to practice my knot tying technique.
The world cup is coming up, and where there is beer, there should be pretzels. So give it a try!
Soft German Pretzels:
A recipe courtesy of theoktoberfest.com
1 Package active dry yeast (2 tsp)
1/8 cup warm water
1 1/3 cup warm water
1/3 cup brown sugar
4 1/2 cups plain flour
pot of water
Dissolve yeast in 1/8-cup warm water. Stir in 1 1/3 cups warm water, 1/3-cup brown sugar and flour. Knead dough until smooth and elastic. You can let the dough rise for a half hour or so but it is not required.
Heat oven to 245°c. In a saucepan, measure 2 tablespoons baking soda to each cup of water. Put enough water to fill the saucepan at least 3 inches high. Bring soda and water mixture to a light boil and set heat to simmer. Make sure the baking soda is well dissolved.
Tear off some dough and roll a long thick pencil shape with your hands. Pick up both ends, cross to form rabbit ears and then twist the ends and pull them back to the rest of the loop. Place aside on lightly floured surface and let rise a few minutes.
Place pretzels one at a time in water/baking soda mixture for 10 seconds on each side or until the pretzel dough is light yellow in color. Remove the pretzel from boiling water and place onto a salted baking sheet.
Salt the top of pretzels with course ground sea salt. Place baking sheet with pretzels into the oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until the pretzels are golden brown. Enjoy while warm.