Tuesday 5 May 2020

Bavarian bretzels

1 hour to activate the yeast Serves 8

The best kind of twisted

Oktoberfest is the world’s largest beer festival. It is held annually in Munich and it lasts 16 days.
More than 6 million people from all over the world attend the festival, which usually happens from mid September to the first weekend in October.

Nowadays, several other cities across the world also hold Oktoberfest celebrations, modeled after the original event.
These dark brown, crispy (yet soft inside), salty little guys are the perfect sidekick for an ice cold beer! It was my favorite food at the time I lived in Munich and I have been missing them so much, since I moved back to Italy.

There are several accounts on the origin of bretzels. Legend says that in 1839, the baker for the Munich Royal Café, while preparing some sweet bretzels for his guests, accidentally used the Natronlauge (which is the sodium hydroxide solution that they used to clean the bakery countertops) to brush the bretzels instead of sugar-water. He decided to bake the bretzels anyway and was impressed with the unique brown crust, soft center and delicious taste.
I personally chose to not do the Natronlauge because of safety. Honestly, I am VERY accident prone, and I couldn’t possibly sleep peacefully knowing that I posted something that could get someone hurt.
A baking soda solution is a fine substitute and you won’t risk hurting yourself.

But, do I really need to do the boiling in baking soda solution step?
Yes, please, do not skip it! That step only takes a few minutes and it’s what makes these bretzels out of this world good. It causes the bretzel to get all soft and nice inside and it also gives them their distinctive flavor and dark brown color.
Also, try to use the Barley malt syrup because it adds this amazing subtle yet complex flavor that is so characteristic.
(If you cannot get your hands on one, substitute for brown sugar).

Now, pass me that Weiss beer cause I just took bretzels out of the oven and I can’t possibly wait any longer to devour them.

Here are ingredients for a 8-serving recipe (8 bretzels):

For the yeast:
100 g flour 00
55 ml warm water
12 g Barley malt syrup
4 g brewer's yeast

For the bretzels :
400 g flour 00
215 ml warm water
50 g butter
12 g salt
Maldon salt flakes

For the boiling solution:
30 g baking soda

  1. The first thing to be done is to activate the yeast. In a bowl, dissolve the brewer yeast in the warm water. Stir in sugar, and flour. Knead dough until smooth and elastic. Then, loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for 1 hour at room temperature
  2. Once the yeast has doubled its size, dissolve the salt in the warm water. Pour the flour into a large bowl, together with the salted warm water, the yeast, and the butter. Stir well and knead the dough until until uniformly moist
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for 2 hours at room temperature
  4. After this time has passed, take the dough. Generously dust the counter with flour and knead the dough again very quickly
  5. Then, cut the dough into 8 pieces. Roll a 50-cm long thick pencil shape with your hands but keep the middle a little thicker. 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 some baking paper and let rise about 30 minutes
  6. Then, place the bretzels in the fridge for at least 1 hour
  7. In a saucepan, dissolve the baking soda in 4 liters of eater by mixing well
  8. Preheat oven to 200°C
  9. Bring soda and water mixture to a light boil. Place bretzels one at a time into the liquid baking soda mixture for 40 seconds. Using a large slotted plastic spatula, push each bretzel into the water to ensure it is fully covered. Remove the bretzel from the liquid mixture and place onto a cloth to drain. Then, put it on the baking tray, lined with parchment paper
  10. Use a sharp knife and slit the thickest part of the bretzels lengthwise. Salt the top of pretzels with Maldon salt flakes as desired
  11. Place the pan with the bretzels into the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until bretzels are to desired darkness
  12. Remove them from the oven and transfer them to a grill until chill. Serve and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts are detailed in the table below. Data is provided per serving.

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