I’m a HUGE sucker for a good homemade pretzel. I love them. There are a couple of breweries in the area that serve them right along side their special brews, and this has to be one of my favorite combos in the world! Nothing beats a warm, soft pretzel straight out of the oven. I’ve made pretzels before, quite a few times actually, but never have I made a traditional pretzel. I’ve always taken the easy way out and made them into bites. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and if you’ve never made pretzels before, this is a good place to start. There is really no shaping involved, which can get tedious if you aren’t used to it. This particular recipe involves a traditional soft pretzel dough. I didn’t do anything elaborate with it, but I’ll get to some fun flavors after Zach and I (and Cilantro!) have moved. I complimented this recipe with a spicy beer cheese sauce that was to … die … for. The two were a perfect match. Try something new, and make your own pretzels instead of buying them. You will be surprised at how easy they can be to make, and you will get the hang of it in no time at all!
For an easy to follow visual on how to shape pretzels, please visit The Kitchn where they have a full-proof method! This link is my go-to everytime. ;)
I know that the recipe below is going to scare the living daylights out of you. It is long, I will give you that, but it’s really not as bad as it looks. With making pretzels, comes a lot of steps, and they are not necessarily difficult. Leave yourself a couple of hours to tackle this recipe and take your time. I like the recipe for a snowy Saturday or Sunday. You more than likely have most of the ingredients already hanging out in you pantry, so there will be almost no need to go to to the store! Hooray for that!
Beer: Renegade Brewing’s Redacted Rye IPA
Brewed By: Renegade Brewing
Style: American IPA
Description: Hey, I cooked with beer again! I’m really starting to get the hang of this! I know beer cheese is like the easiest cooking with beer recipe, but hey, I have to start somewhere right? I thought either a pale ale or an IPA would be perfect in this spicy beer cheese sauce, and it totally worked. This particular IPA is one of my go-to brews right now. I love it. It’s insanely solid and full of flavor. It is hoppy, but not that knock-you-on-your-feet hoppiness. It’s loaded with rye, and has subtle hints of citrus and spiciness. I love it, and equally love it to cook with. Just as it is with wine, don’t cook with a beer you would never drink on it’s own. While most of the alcohol will vanish, the flavor will still be there!
Homemade Soft Pretzels with Spicy Beer Cheese Sauce
- 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (more as needed)
- 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (more as needed)
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 2/3 cup baking soda
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water to make an egg wash
- coarse sea salt
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 12 ounces beer (IPA or Pale Ale)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
- In the bowl of your stand mixer (with dough hook attached), combine the water, butter, yeast, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam.
- With the speed set on low, add the fine sea salt and the flours until all has been added. Increase the speed to medium, and knead for 5-6 minutes. The dough should start to pull away from the sides of the bowl and form a ball. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour until the dough is easy to handle.
- Drizzle a tablespoon of canola oil into a large bowl. Remove the dough from the stand mixer and form it into a ball. Place the dough into the large bowl and toss so that it is evenly coated with canola oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel and place it in an unheated oven to rise for 1-2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.
- Once your dough has risen, remove it from the bowl and transfer it to a work surface. Cut it into 8 equally-sized pieces.
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F and line 2 large baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large pot, bring 9 cups of water to a rolling boil.
- While you wait for you water to come to a boil, take each piece and roll out into a very thin rope. Lay the rope horizontally in front of you and cross the right side over the left. Twist the ends once or twice and flip the ends toward you to form a traditional pretzel-like shape. Press the ends into the bottom of the pretzel to seal. Repeat this step for the rest of the dough. (For visuals, see above for a link.)
- Once you have formed your pretzels, add the baking soda VERY CAREFULLY and VERY SLOWLY to the boiling water until all of it has been added. One or two at a time, add the pretzels to the water and boil for 30-45 seconds. Remove the pretzels from the water with a slotted spoon and transfer to your prepared baking sheets. Repeat this step for the rest of your pretzels.
- Brush your pretzels with the prepared egg wash and sprinkle generously with coarse sea salt. Bake the pretzels at 425 degrees F for 12-15 minutes or until they are brown on top. You may need to switch the two baking sheets halfway through the baking process if your oven does not cook evenly. Remove from oven and let cool for 2-3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes more.
- For the spicy beer cheese sauce (this can be prepared while your pretzels are baking), melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Slowly whisk in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes or until a nutty aroma fills the air and your roux is a golden color. Slowly whisk in the beer and continue to let it cook, whisking frequently, for 3-4 minute. Next, add the milk and whisk again to combine. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer, and allow for it to cook until the sauce has thickened and is at a consistency in which you desire. Stir in the hot sauce, cayenne pepper, and a dash of salt and pepper. Remove the sauce from the heat, and add the cheese in half cup increments, making sure the cheese has completely melted before you add the rest.
- Serve the spicy beer cheese sauce with the pretzels immediately, or store the pretzels in an air tight container where they will keep for about a week.
- The cheese can be stored in the fridge for about a week also. When you go to serve it, add it to a small saucepan over low heat to warm gently.
Hardware: * Measuring Cups * Measuring Spoons * Sharp Knife * Stand Mixer (with dough hook) * Mixing Bowls * Plastic Wrap or Damp Towel * 2 Large Baking Sheets * Silicone Mats or Parchment Paper * Large Stockpot * Slotted Spoon * Brush *Wire Racks * Airtight Containers * Large Saucepan * Whisk * Inactive Time: 1 - 2 hours