GUTEN TAG! Willkommen in Dishntell. This week we are dishing up a Deutsch favorite in honor of the festival known for its excessive drinking of beer and eating of bratwurst.
What is: Oktoberfest.
I went to my first two Oktoberfests this past week to witness the traditional German dancing and not-so-traditional beer keg tossing contests. Granted, neither of these festivals sized up to the annual Oktoberfest held in München, but the brew was as good as the accordion music and, therefore, I was a happy German wannabe.
My first Oktoberfest experience was in Frankenmuth, Michigan, also known as Michigan’s little Bavaria. I ventured there with my friends Emily, Sam, Lisa, and Mackenzie, all of whom beered, cheered, danced, and ate monumental amounts of sausage.
[And oh shnitz, it was good.]
I loved the pretzels they were selling at this faux Deutschland because, unlike the hats, beer steins, dirndl, lederhosen, and Oktoberfest t-shirts for sale, a $4 pretzel was not going to eat a hole through my wallet (which is, metaphorically, pretty swiss-cheesy to begin with). I decided to make these pretzel rolls at home because they’re infinitely better than the kind you’ll find in the freezer section, and they function fantastically as sandwich rolls. I would suggest using these soft pretzels as hotdog buns, but I fear you would then have a zero percent chance of self control (considering how great of a combination that is).
Lye Pretzel Rolls
(Makes 8 6-inch hotdog buns — Recipe from SheSimmers)
For the dough:
6 fl. oz. lukewarm water, divided
10 g active dry yeast
4 fl. oz. lukewarm milk
80 g light or dark brown sugar
4 g salt
24 g butter, melted and cooled
480 g bread flour, plus more as needed
For the boiling liquid:
6 cups water
1/2 cup baking soda
In a mixing bowl, mix 4 fl. oz. of warm water with yeast and just a tiny pinch of brown sugar; let yeast bubble up (6-8 minutes).
Add remaining water as well as everything else, except flour, into yeast bowl; mix by hand. Slowly add flour and knead vigorously until you get a smooth, non-sticky dough. Add more flour as needed, one tablespoon at a time (12-15 minutes).
Form dough into a large ball, cover with a towel, and let rest for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, cut into 8 equal pieces.
Shape a piece of dough into a 5-inch log of approximately 1.5 inches in diameter with tapered ends. Arrange dough logs on a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving about 3 inches of space around each log.
Cover logs with a towel and let rise for 30 minutes.
Prehead ove to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Put the water in a pot and bring to a gentle boil.
Add baking soda. You will see lots of bubbles; that’s okay.
Gently lift up each piece of dough, trying your best to keep the integrity of its hape. Slowly plunge each piece of dough into the simmering liquit, “pretty side first.”
Boil one ot two pieces of dough at a time, 20 seconds per side. With a slotted spoon, scoop dough from liquid, shake excess water, and gently place on the same parchment-lined sheet, leaving about 3 inches of space between each bun.
With a sharp knit, make 3-4 diagonal cuts on each hot dog bun, about 1/4 inch deep.
Sprinkle with topping(s) of your choice.
Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until pretzel buns develop a dark caramel color on the outsides.
Remove from oven and let cool on a cooling rack, loosely covered with a kitchen towel.