1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 Tbsp. Sugar
2 Tsps. Kosher salt
1 Package active dry yeast
4 1/2 Cups All purpose flour
2 Oz. Unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for pan
2/3 Cup Baking soda
1 Large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
BEER CHEESE SAUCE
2 Tbsp. Unsalted butter
2½ Tbsp. All-purpose flour
½ Cup Milk
¾ Cup Beer
1½ Tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tsp. Goldman’s Mustard powder
1/2 Tsp. Garlic powder
8 Oz. Extra Sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
Kosher Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1) 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 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.
2) Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line baking sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
4) 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 sheet pan.
5) 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.
3) Turn heat to low and add shredded cheese, one ½ cup at a time, stirring continuously until cheese has completely melted and sauce is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste, serve immediately. To prevent congealing, serve in a small crock pot or fondue dish over heat.
NOTES: If you grew up in NYC, you had soft pretzels growing up. Every street corner in Manhattan has a pretzel vending cart and they are just part of the NYC experience. If you’ve gone to a carnival, a sporting event or a sports bar, I’m sure you’ve had them. But making your own is just so much fun and they just taste so much better. Let’s face it, it doesn’t get any fresher than making your own.
Yes, there are several steps to the recipe, but they aren’t hard and they can be made in advance if you are serving them at a party or at a Superbowl gathering. For me, they are a staple at my Oktoberfest celebration. I serve them with ooey-gooey beer cheese and people go wild for them… you will too.
I didn’t have them with beer cheese growing up… I was introduced to that in the midwest. Once I tried it, I was hooked. Be sure to use a good quality cheese and make sure you grate it yourself. The pre-grated cheese has a coating on it that doesn’t melt very well. Do your own grating for a smooth and delicious dip.
If you like the idea of throwing your own Oktoberfest, be sure to see my menu here.
It has everything from Knockwurst and Sauerkraut to Pork Schnitzel to German Potato Salad and Chunky Apple Sauce. Put together your own party. These foods are simple to make, really hearty and just plain good.