A couple of weeks ago the most legendary beer fest took place on the Theresienwiese in Munich. Sadly, without us. Last year 3/4 of us made it and it was truly a wonderful, beery, winey (fyi: drinking many a Maß of white wine spritzer instead of beer in order to keep up with the beer drinkers on your table… not such a good idea:-P), beery, kaiserschmarrn, beery, schnitzel, beery, lebkuchen heart, dirndl and lederhosen filled experience. One would think wearing a dirndl, hiking boots and braids in the metro is awkward…not when the whole city does it! Then you’re stared at when dressed as a normal civilian.
What I always forget when I put my dirndl on is where to tie the bow of the apron. I didn’t even know it had a meaning until lots of drunkards started chatting me up. My accompanying “Octoberfest-regulars” enjoyed the situation for a while, but then tried to enlighten my somewhat tipsy self to the meaning behind the bow (who’s place often tends to change the longer the evening and the flirtier the ladies get… :-)). So for the unknowing and forgetful out there:
Bow tied on the right side: in a relationship, engaged, married
Bow tied on the left side: single, or at least for the night 😉
Bow tied in the middle: virgin
Bow tied in the back: widow
In the spirit of Octoberfest I decided to bake some Brezeln. Also because good versions of this type of bread (or almost any bread compared to back home) are a rare find in London. And because I had to wait for 5 hours for a guy to come install my phone line. But that’s beside the point.
Brezeln / Pretzels
2 1/4 teaspoons dry active yeast (1/4 ounce)
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt (too little in my opinion, I would double it)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Vegetable oil, for baking sheets (I did not do this, one should, otherwise you have pretzels with a tasty side of baking paper)
3 tablespoons baking soda
1 tablespoon pretzel salt
- Mix yeast, coarse salt, sugar, and warm water in a small bowl and whisk together until the sugar dissolves. Let this stand until foamy (approx. 5 mins).
- In a large bowl mix the flour and the cayenne. Using your fingers mix in the butter until you have coarse crumbs.
- Slowly pour yeast mixture into the flour mixture, stirring to combine. Using your hands, gather dough together, turn it onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it is no longer sticky (5 – 10 mins). Pop it back into the bowl and cover with cling film or a damp kitchen towel and let it rise for about 30 minutes in a warm area.
- Divide the dough into 12 pieces, roll each into an 18-inch rope. Form a U shape with 1 rope and twist ends together twice. Fold the twisted portion backward along center of U shape to form a circle, then gently press ends of rope onto dough to seal. Transfer to an oiled baking sheet (VERY IMPORTANT: I didn’t understand the point of the oil until I had finished baking them and wanted to take them off the baking sheets…they stuck…and would not let go of the baking paper!!), and repeat. Let rise for 20 minutes. Just google how to shape a pretzel and you’ll be fine.
- Preheat oven to 250°C (230°C fan oven) degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the baking soda. Boil pretzels in batches until puffed and slightly shiny, 1 minute per side. Transfer to wire racks to drain. Return to baking sheet, sprinkle with pretzel salt (I didn’t have any salt:-( but it’d be worth it!). Bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 15 minutes.
One two three four – SCORE
[Numerical ratings are out of four, where four is best/healthiest/hardest.]
Healthiness: All depends on what you eat them with and how many you eat 😉 healthier than croissants
Cost: cheap, you probably have everything in your cupboard! All I had to buy was the yeast.
Overall: 2.3 – I have made pretzels before using a swiss cookbook back home and they turned out much better, this recipe was lacking salt (sorry Mrs. Stewart). So double the salt which goes into the dough if you make it!