Monday, September 26, 2005

put down that pretzel!

So, before Blogger so rudely ate my post, I was talking about my pretzels. They didn’t turn out quite as I had hoped because I sort of just followed bits and pieces of about three recipes I had, but they were gone by 8 p.m. last night so they couldn’t have been all that bad. Those boys will eat anything!

Traditionally they’re supposed to be boiled briefly in a solution of water and baking soda before baking to give them a hard, shiny crust, but I left out that part (lazy) and instead brushed them with egg white and sprinkled with coarse salt, as the following recipe suggests. I may try a new recipe next time just to check out the difference.

This recipe is meant for a 2 lb bread machine, but I’m sure you could make them by hand just as easily if you know how to make a yeast dough. Also? This was supposed to make 16 smallish ones, but I made 8 big suckers instead. What a rebel.

Soft Pretzels

1 ¼ c water
3 ½ c bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 egg yolk
1 T oil
1 tsp lemon juice
2 T sugar
1/8 tsp white pepper
1 T (one .25 ounce package) active dry yeast

1 egg white
1 T water

kosher (coarse) salt or sesame seeds

Place ingredients in bread pan in order recommended by manufacturer and use dough setting. When setting is complete, remove dough and punch down.

On a lightly floured surface cut dough into 16 (8!!) equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a rope about 16” long. Shape each rope into a pretzel by crossing the ends of the rope to make a loop, twisting the crossed ends once and folding them across the loop. (got that?)

Place pretzels on a greased cookie sheet 1 ½ “ apart. Brush with combined egg white and water. Sprinkle with salt or sesame seeds and bake in preheated 375°F (190°C) oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Eat them while they’re still warm and beg your mum to make more!


Speaking of pretzels, last Friday our friends invited us over for a Bavarian evening to celebrate Oktoberfest. Besides loads of pretzels, or Brezn as they’re called in Bavaria, we also had Weißwurst, Hendl (roast chicken) and white radishes cut into very thin slices. Mr. M and T drank Löwenbräu beer out of a Maß – a large glass designed to hold one litre. I’ve heard the barmaids in Munich can heft 6 of these things in each hand. You don’t want to mess with those ladies.

At the Oktoberfest opening ceremony this year, Munich’s Oberbürgermeister (lord mayor) set a new record by managing to tap the huge beer keg with only two blows of his wooden mallet, shouting "O’zapft is!" (it is tapped!) to let the guests know that the party had officially begun.

Anyway, as our meal went on, our hosts maintained that the proper way to eat a Weißwurst was not to slit the skin down the middle and separate it from the sausage, but to do it the Bavarian way by making an opening in one end of the Weißwurst and sucking out the contents, leaving the empty skin behind. The Germans have even thought up a verb for this interesting activity: zuzzeln. Yum.

Mr. M, being a traditional kind of guy (ha! that’s a good one!) had of course donned his Lederhosn, knee socks and funny hat and pretended to be a Bayer (a citizen of Bavaria) instead of a Saupreuß (roughly “pig Prussian” – a name sometimes given to northerners by southerners). I actually have a traditional Austrian/Bavarian costume of my own, a Dirndl dress handed down to me by my mum, but unfortunately the last time I fit into it was about two kids ago, and no amount of holding my breath was going to do it.

I guess this dress must be about 30 years old because I know my mother wore it before she gave it to me. The traditional Dirndl, which is the short form of Dirndlgewand, meaning clothing worn by a young girl or woman and stemming from the High German Dirne (young girl), usually consists of a cropped white blouse, a low-cut, tight-fitting bodice with laces or buttons, a full skirt and a matching apron. Sometimes a scarf or shawl is wrapped around the shoulders. Apparently the way the apron strings are tied gives a clue as to the wearer’s marital status. If the bow is on the right, the woman is already spoken for. Apron strings tied to the left signal availability. But as far as I can tell, everyone is available at Oktoberfest. It’s just that kind of place.

There are many, many variations on the Dirndl theme and you can see that the bodice on my Dirndl is very conservative and not low cut at all. There are some really racy ones indeed to be seen at Oktoberfest, cut up to here and down to there, and I doubt I could ever compete with all those buxom Bavarian beauties. I’m pretty sure I’ll never make it to the Wiesn (the local name given to Oktoberfest) anyway – too much beer and bottom pinching for me.

Here’s some good information on Oktoberfest and a great Bavarian dictionary to help all those poor tourists figure out just exactly what their Bavarian hosts are saying. Also go check out Elemmaciltur's adventures. Oktoberfest runs until October 3 this year, so there’s still time to get there. By the time the festivities are wrapped up, almost six million people may have visited the grounds. Wow, that’s a lot of pretzels!


At September 26, 2005 11:51 p.m., Blogger Sandra said...

Oh come now, one can never have too much bottom pinching.

The pretzels are gorgeous, what a sight. Lazy schmazy.

At September 27, 2005 12:23 a.m., Blogger Cathy said...

lazy schmazy is right! i think i have been inspired to dust off my bread maker. great tale and i really enjoy reading your blog because it reminds me of words,tales, etc. that my dad has told me of or from my time in family is also saupruss (no esstscet??) on my keyboard.

At September 27, 2005 6:19 a.m., Anonymous Karl said...

Saupreuß: my sister-in-law was actually called that by an old man in München once after she greeted him with "Moin".

At September 27, 2005 8:04 a.m., Blogger Karen said...

Nice Dirndl - one of the few things that never go out of style, actually.
And the pretzels look scrumptious!

At September 27, 2005 8:55 a.m., Blogger Elemmaciltur said...

Hehehe, thanks for linking me....(great, now people can see me drunk, dancing on the bench singing 'Summer Time' with my friends *LOL*).

Took a look at that picture of Weißwurst: You don't eat them with Knödl and Sauerkraut! *urgh* Was für Blasphemie!!! *LOL* And I hope you'd eaten them before noon! It's so traditionally because the Weißwurst had to be made fresh, and since they didn't have the fridge back then, it has to be eaten before noon.

And ewwwwww...Löwenbräu? Des trinken ja nur die 1860er Fans. Das beste Bier ist Augustiner!

Awwwwww...the Dirndl's cute. Did Mr. M wear a normal Strümpfe or did he had Loferl (Wadelstrümpfe) on?

At September 27, 2005 9:01 a.m., Blogger Ms Mac said...

Oh, but I want to see the Lederhosen!!! I reember being in Munich one day and seeing people dressed in the Bayern costumes, it was just so quaint, I had a smile on my face all day!

Also, Ewan brought home some homework not long ago about the letter B. He had to write a list of words starting with B and Benzin was one of them. To finish it off, he then had to choose one of the words and draw a picture of it, he chose Benzin but drew a Brezel!

At September 27, 2005 11:28 a.m., Blogger christina said...

Sandra - all depends on who's doing the pinching! :-)

Cathy - the bread machine makes things SO easy. And it's fine to use a "ss" if you don't have a "ß".

Karl - That's great - gotta watch what you say down south! We used to have a neighbour from Wangerland who greeted everyone with a cheerful "Moin, Moin!" She got some pretty funny looks but no insults.

Karen - if I could get into the dress I'd wear it for sure. They'e always so nicely made with such lovely fabric and last for years.

Elemm - those of us above the "Weißwurstäquator" really DO eat them with Sauerkraut and Knödel. What an abomination, huh? :-) And being a Saupreuß, Mr. M just wore his ski socks with the Lederhosn! There weren't any Bavarians present so no one noticed.

ms mac - yes, the traditional clothing is lovely, isn't it? People up here tend to wear more subdued Loden type clothing. Also nice but not as flashy.

At September 27, 2005 12:57 p.m., Blogger Antipodeesse said...

Ah, you brought back some fond memories! I used to live in Munich, just a few U-Bahn stops from the Wiese. I visited the family-oriented funfair part in the daytime with kids, and hit the beer tents at night with my wastrel Irish drinking buddies. I have many incriminating photos!

At September 28, 2005 4:22 a.m., Blogger cmhl said...

mmmmmmmmm, pretzels. those look good..

At September 28, 2005 1:45 p.m., Anonymous ensurt said...

Mmmmmm, I don't drink beer (college years saturation??) but I would love one of your pretzels this Oktoberfest. Enjoy the party !and thanks for visiting my young blog.

At September 28, 2005 4:10 p.m., Anonymous Belinda said...

I have a "sweet" pretzel twist on your recipe which I tried. Instead of sprinkling salt over the top I put caramelised chopped hazelnuts over it. Then I made a caramel apple dipping sauce :)

It turned out quite well. I didn't expect the pretzel to take well to sweetness!

(thanks again for the kind words over at my place :)

At September 28, 2006 10:45 p.m., Blogger Wayne said...

I can't wait to try out the brezn recipe. I'm going to give it a go this weekend in anticipation of our wine club Oktoberfest party on 10/14.

I've never been to Oktoberfest, but I was in Munich last October and had a wonderful time. Actually, I'd love to see more of Germany if I only had more money!


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