Serve Up Homemade Soft Pretzels For This Year’s Big Game

Each year, the National Football League playoffs bring both ardent and casual football fans together. Game watch parties have become increasingly popular in recent years. As home theater systems have evolved, watching the big game at home has, for many fans, become just as enjoyable as attending the game.

No game watch party is complete without food, and homemade foods can take such gatherings to the next level. This playoff season, impress guests and fellow football fans with this recipe for “Soft Rye Pretzels” courtesy of John Holl’s “The American Craft Beer Cookbook” (Storey).

Soft Rye Pretzels
Makes 12 pretzels

11⁄2 cups warm water
15 grams sugar
20 grams active dry yeast
420 grams bread flour
115 grams rye flour
85 grams barley flour
20 grams kosher salt
65 grams unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for oiling bowl
12 cups plus 1 tablespoon water
2⁄3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk
Sea salt

1. Combine the water, sugar and yeast in a small bowl. Mix gently and let rest until the yeast begins to foam.

2. Combine the bread flour, rye flour, barley flour, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. When the yeast mixture is foamy, slowly add it and the butter to the flour mixture with the mixer on slow speed, and mix until just combined, about 20 seconds. Turn off the mixer and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.

3. Mix the dough on slow speed for 1 minute, and then increase the speed to medium and mix for 2 minutes longer, or until the dough forms a ball and pulls cleanly away from the sides of the bowl.

4. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it on a lightly floured work surface for 2 minutes. Put the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with a moist towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 60 to 90 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Portion the dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 20-inch-long rope of even diameter. Fold the rope into the pretzel knot shape and press the dough together firmly where it intersects at the twist and the ends.

6. Bring 12 cups water the baking soda to a boil in a large pot. Working in batches of 3 or 4, depending on the size of your pot, slowly lower each pretzel into the boiling water and cook for 30 to 45 seconds, pushing and resubmerging the pretzels with a slotted spoon as needed. Transfer the pretzels to a wire rack to dry.

7. When all the pretzels are boiled, arrange them on large baking sheets lined with parchment paper and bake for
6 minutes.

8. Meanwhile, whisk the 1 tablespoon water and the egg yolk together in a small ball. Remove the pretzels from the oven and brush with the egg wash. Sprinkle with salt and bake for 8 to 10 minutes longer, or until dark brown. Serve warm. The pretzels will keep for about a day unwrapped, but not overnight. Wrapping in plastic will melt the salt and distort the crust.
Beers to try with this recipe:

British IPAs
• Berkshire Lost Sailor IPA
• Brooklyn East India Pale Ale
• Left Hand 400 Pound Monkey
• Middles Ages ImPaled Ale

Vienna Lagers

• Blue Point Toasted Lager
• Devils Backbone Vienna Lager
• Great Lakes Eliot Ness
• Trapp Vienna Lager

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