Homemade Brewfest Pretzels

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These are everything I love in a pretzel. They’re chewy and salty outside—and soft and fragrant with beer on the inside.

A street cart ain’t the only place to get a good pretzel

They’re ridiculously easy to make at home. The hands-on time is pretty minimal. Most of your time is spent waiting for your dough to rise.

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This recipe produces a chewy, moist, properly dense pretzel.

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The short version of the recipe goes like this

Throw some flour, beer, and a few other ingredients together to make the dough. Let it rise for like an hour.

Whack it into 8 pieces, then form the pretzels.

Give them a quick boil in hot water infused with baking soda (which helps give them that glorious, glossy crust), then bake for like 10 minutes.

Inhale as soon as they’re cool enough to touch.

I’ll step you through what that looks like below.

A note on beer, yeast, & salt

As with any recipe, use any beer that you would drink. Cooking and baking only concentrate the flavors in booze, so make sure you start with something you like. I’m not really a beer drinker, but a friend recommended this stuff. The flavor was great. (Bonus points for having a fancy fox on the label…)

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One really important thing to note about yeast: Don’t skip the proofing step (described below). You’ll be kicking yourself if you throw the whole dough together, wait an hour, and find that it doesn’t rise because your yeast was dead.

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Yeast grains are little, living beasties that wake up when you give them some warm liquid and feed them with a little sugar. A handful of things, namely high heat, can kill yeast. This is why it’s always best to store your yeast in the freezer. Store it in a hot spot, and it’ll likely expire. I like Red Star brand a lot.

If you have yeast that came in packets, always bust them open and measure it out. There’s can be a wildly inconsistent amount in each packet. There’s about 2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast in one 3/4 oz. packet of yeast.

The Angry Chef snagged some awesome salt at Trader Joe’s for sprinkling on top. It’s this stuff here. Totally recommend it. Of course, regular ole sea salt will do just fine. 🙂

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Check it out, it’s actually pyramid shaped:

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OK, to the ovens already!

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Brewfest Pretzels

Dough
1 12-oz. bottle amber beer
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 cups flour

Hot water bath
5 – 6 cups water
1/3 cup baking soda

Topping
1 egg yolk
2 Tablespoons water
Flaked sea salt

Makes 8 fat beer pretzels

Do a little prep

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside. Line a separate tray or baking sheet with paper towels and set aside.

Make the pretzel dough

Pour the beer into the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large mixing bowl if you’re mixing by hand). Add the yeast and sugar and stir well to combine.
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The yeast will get all clumpy and weird looking on the surface of the beer. That’s just fine. Let it sit like this for about 10 minutes, uncovered. Don’t skip this step (see my note above about making sure your yeast is alive and happy).

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After about 10 minutes, the yeast will bloom and get all bubbly, which tells you that it’s alive and well. If for some reason this doesn’t happen, your yeast is dead. Try it again with a fresh package of yeast and you should be just fine.

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Add the olive oil, salt, and flour. Mix well until you have a soft, uniform, semi-sticky dough.

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Ball the dough up and set it back in the bowl. (Or in a clean bowl lightly greased with olive oil. I’ll admit that I almost never do this, I find the original bowl works just fine for me. Up to you.)

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Cover it with plastic wrap or a dish cloth. Set in a warm place to rise until the dough doubles in volume. This should take about an hour.

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Make the baking soda bath

Once your dough has risen, get the baking soda bath going. Put the water and baking soda in a medium-sized pot. Give it a stir. Set on the stove over high heat and bring to a boil.

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Set your paper-towel lined tray nearby to recieve the pretzels after their dip. You want the bath boiling when you form the pretzels.

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Form the pretzels

Once the dough has doubled in size, remove it from the bowl. Squash the air out of it and set it on a lightly floured (or oiled) board. Whack it into 8 pieces that are about the same size.

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Grab a hunk of dough. Roll it into a long tube. Aim for about 16 inches long, but don’t make yourself nuts. If your dough is stickier than mine, lightly oil your hands or dip them in water before rolling.

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Form the tube into a pretzel like this:

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Press down each end to help it keep its form.

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Form and dip the pretzels one at a time, or form them all, then dip them. Up to you.

When your water is boiling, gently lower your pretzel into the bubbling baking soda bath. Boil for 30-45 seconds. This helps the crust get chewy, and gets the cooking process off to a running start.

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After 30 – 45 seconds, carefully lift the pretzel out and deposit it on the waiting, paper-towel-lined tray to drain.

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Repeat until you’ve formed and dipped all 8 pretzels.

Bake the pretzels

Whisk the egg yolk and water together.

 

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Transfer the drained pretzels to your prepared baking sheets. Brush the top of each liberally with the egg yolk glaze. Then, sprinkle with salt to taste.

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Pop them into your preheated 425 degree F oven. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until nicely browned.

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When they’re done, yank them out of the oven. Let them rest for 5 minutes on the pans, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. (Or, start eating as soon as your paws can reasonably hold one.)

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Serve and enjoy!

Because of the salt on top, these are best served the day they’re baked. Serve with your favorite beer, with a dish of mustard for dipping. Happy Oktoberfest!

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.

3 COMMENTS

  1. This is a nice idea! I only get the urge to cook at the holidays and your website helps me look like a pro when I’m not! Thanks so much for catering to the visual learners!

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