It’s the most wonderful time of the year. I wrote that with a sing-song voice and the tune of a carol in mind. All together now. It’s the most, wonderful time, of the year.
What am I talking about? Oktoberfest of course. What began as a celebration of the wedding of Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810 continues today as a festival that runs for 16 days and ends the first Sunday in October. This year, Oktoberfest kicks off on September 20 and runs through October 5.
What does this mean for the blog? All but one of the recipes I will post over the next two weeks will rely on beer as an ingredient. If you do not particularly enjoy incorporating beer into your recipes, you will probably do well to tune me out until mid-October. I imagine that is when I will begin succumbing to something pumpkin.
For now, let’s talk pretzels. Soft beer pretzels with cheddar beer cheese was the first Oktoberfest recipe I shared when I dreamed this nonsense up two years ago. I am kicking things off the same way this year with another pretzel recipe and beer cheese dip.
These are some serious pretzels. Laugenbrezel (traditional German pretzels) are reportedly served at the Hofbräuhaus beer hall in Munich. The original recipe calls for a yield of only two pretzels, but my heavens, they must be the size of a catcher’s mitt.
I formed my dough into more manageable pretzel bites. I would love to tell you exactly how many pretzel bites the recipe yields, but I did not count because I am an amateur. If you would like to go the traditional route, the How to Shape a Pretzel post on the kitchn is the best picture tutorial I have come across.
Unusual ingredient alert! The original recipe also calls for barley malt syrup. “Where am I going to find that,” I whined when I read the recipe. It turned out that I found it near the maple syrups at The Fresh Market with no problem. I believe it is also stocked at Whole Foods.
For the dip, I used Leinenkugel’s Canoe Paddler. Leine’s says the kölsch-style beer pairs well with pasta in white wine sauce and whitefish. I say the beer pairs well with this white dip. It is simple to whip up while the pretzels are baking and works well with vegetables too.
- For the Pretzels
- Step One:
- 1½ tablespoons barley malt syrup
- 1¼ ounce package active dry yeast
- 1½ cups warm water
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened
- 4 cups flour, plus more for dusting
- ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
- Step 2:
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- 1 cup water
- coarse sea salt for sprinkling
- For the Dip
- 2, 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup shredded cheese of choice (I used cheddar)
- 1 package ranch dressing mix
- 6 ounces beer of choice (I used Leinenkugel's Canoe Paddler)
- To make the pretzels, stir the barley malt syrup, active dry yeast, and warm water together in a large bowl and allow to sit until the mixture becomes foamy, about 10 minutes.
- Add the butter, flour and salt to the foamy mixture and stir together until a dough forms.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Quarter the dough, and working with one quarter at a time, roll the dough into ropes about 1 inch thick.
- Cut the dough into bite-sized pieces, place the pieces on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes.
- As the dough nears the end of the time for resting, stir the baking soda into one cup of water in a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
- Brush each pretzel bite with the baking soda solution and sprinkle with sea salt.
- Slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake at 500 degrees F until dark brown, about 15 minutes.
- To make the dip, mix the cream cheese, shredded cheese, ranch dressing mix, and beer together until well combined.