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
Olive 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
Hot Sauce (optional)
1) Let’s make the pretzel dough first. Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam.(That’s how you’ll know the yeast is activated and live.) Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead the dough until it is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl. Wipe the bowl out and then oil it well with olive oil. I use a pastry brush to get the job done. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel and put it in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size. I leave mine on the back of the kitchen counter away from drafts.
2) Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line baking sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the olive oil. Set aside.
3) Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil a large pot. You want as much surface area as possible to pre-boil your pretzels. I normally do this in batches.
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. I usually measure them with a measuring tape or ruler so they all come out the same size. But don’t mind me, any size and any shape still tastes great! Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope away from you, cross the ends over each other twice and then bring the ends down to the bottom of the U and press each end onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the prepared parchment-lined sheet pan.
5) You are now going to blanch the pretzels in the boiling water BEFORE baking them. Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula or large spider strainer. Make sure you let the excess water drip off. Put them back on the sheet pan. Brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer the pretzels to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.
1) Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until you’ve created a paste.
2) Add the milk, beer and Worcestershire sauce while continuously stirring. Stir until smooth, then add mustard powder and garlic powder. Continue to heat and whisk until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.
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. If you like a little heat, add a couple of dashes of hot sauce to the cheese and stir in before serving.
NOTES: If you grew up in NYC, you had soft pretzels. 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 LOL.. 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. A couple of dashes of hot sauce wakes it up, and while not traditional, I like the little kick you get so try it.
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.
Tips for getting the recipe right:
1. Don’t let making this dough intimidate you. The machine does all the work! Just let the yeast get bubbly first… that just lets you know the yeast is “still good”. A lot of us don’t pay attention to the expiration date and yeast can lose it’s life, so check the date and make sure it gets bubbly when using.
2. If you want uniformity, cut your dough evenly into 8 pieces. Then, do measure the length of the dough ropes to they are all the same size.
3. The quick blanch is the baking soda water is what gives the pretzels that golden, crispy exterior so it is an important step. (Just in case you were wondering!)
4. Pretzel salt is important if you want your pretzels to be authentic. It has a completely different texture than everyday salt you may be using. In a pinch, go ahead and use kosher salt (I won’t tell.) but you can easily buy this online and it isn’t expensive. I got a little pouch for $4 at Amazon.
5. You certainly don’t need to make the cheese dip but why wouldn’t you? It is easy to make. AND yes, you can reheat it if it gets cool or the sauce seems to break. It doesn’t hurt anything and it still tastes great. I’ve been known to make a batch of pretzels and put them out before a big game with a bucket of cold beer and my “hosting” is applauded (Really, didn’t do that much…LOL) So, with or without the cheese dip, you are good to go.