This is the active period of the famous Munich Oktoberfest: someone goes there, someone craves for it, someone thinks, deep down, that he could survive without it, someone content himself with one of the many Oktoberfest that, in recent years, take place in almost every Italian city.
Now I stand in the ranks of those who, deep down, could also live without the Oktoberfest … let's be clear: I want to go there at least once in my life, but I don't make myself ill about it and certainly I don't consider it a matter of life or death.
The real deal for me is trying to have at my fingertips those things that for me represent the essence of Bavaria or, more generally, Germany, so that I can enjoy a little Oktoberfest when I want to.
These things are mainly three:
- A nice beer, possibly a Weissbier (wheat beer, my favorite among the German ones and typical of Bavaria):fortunately, I find a very good one at a local discount store.
- Pickled cucumbers. They are one of my manias: when I see them on the shelves I can't help myself and I have to take them, they remain attached to my hands. And if you ever entered a discount store, you know very well how many pickles jars look at you, and how good they are.
- Pretzels (in Italian brezel, in Bavarian bretzn), a bread crispy on the outside and soft inside, an absolute and delicious German must (especially if cut in half and spread with butter). Sold in every street corner in Germany (do you remember the man who carries the pretzels in my Berlin picture?), but very hard to find in Italy. What if there was a way to circumvent this problem?!
(Note: I followed Stresscake recipe, changing only the shape of the final product. Kathy used cups: I halved her dose, and I leave you my indications expressed in cups and grams. I made the cups/grams conversion with these tables, but I used cups, so I can't guarantee the grams basing on my experience)
PS: Thanks Katherine for your precious hints about pretzel recipes!
Ingredients (for 4 big pretzels)
For the dough
* 3/4 cup warm water [175 g]
* 1/2 tablespoon active dry yeast [1/2 tablespoon]
* 1 teaspoon sugar [1 teaspoon]
* 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour [292 g]
* 1 teaspoon salt [1 teaspoon]
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted [about 30 g]
To poach and glaze
* 1/8 cup baking soda [about 15 g]
* a large saucepan of water
* 1 egg, lightly beaten (this is the only dose I didn't halve)
* pretzel salt (Kathy recommend not using coarse salt, but pretzel salt, which doesn't exist in Italy. I used ordinary coarse salt and pretzels came out great)
Combine the water and the yeast in a bowl and let it rest 5 minutes, until foamy; in a bowl combine flour, sugar and salt. Then add melted butter and warm water (with yeast in it) and knead (I knead by hands, but you could use a mixer) until you have a silky – but not sticky – dough. Make a dough ball, cover it with a towel and let it rise in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in bulk.
Now put the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into four equal pieces. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
With each piece of dough make a cord of about 40/50 cm long, which has the ends thinner than the center. Then give to each dough "sausage" the characteristic shape, like a "loose knot" (you can see this procedure on Giallo Zafferano – pictures 10 to 12). Place pretzels on your baking sheet, leaving at least 2 to 3 cm between one another. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let them rise for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C. I baked at 200°C/390°F, 'cause this is my oven maximum) and leave the lowest and middle positions of your oven empty.
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil: then lower heat to a simmer and add carefully the baking soda (to prevent the "volcano effect": it's not dangerous for your health, but for your hob).
Slip the first pretzel into the poaching liquid: poach for 30 seconds, then carefully turn the pretzel over in the liquid (I used a skimmer and a scoop), poach the other side for 30 seconds and then remove it from the water. Drain it roughly with a skimmer and then place it on the same baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Do the same thing with the other pretzels, and leave at least 2 to 3 cm between one another.
With a pastry brush, glaze each roll completely with the lightly beaten egg making sure to coat all sides completely. Then
top each pretzel with a sprinkle of pretzel (or coarse) salt (if you want to see a chromatic contrast between outside and inside, cut some slashes on the surface).
Bake in pre-heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, placing the baking sheet in the lowest position, rotating the pan halfway through baking for even browning. If they're not so brown, bake them for some minutes in the middle position (maybe those 3 to 4 minutes more could be the effect of my oven)
Let them cool completely (or at least let them cool down) and eat them on day of baking (otherwise they'll become like chewing-gum). Kathy suggests that you could store them in the freezer, tightly wrapped, and then reheat them in a damp paper towel for 30 seconds in the microwave.
I ate them cold (but I'd like a warm one, spread with butter), together with some raw ham (but speck would be perfect) and with some pickled cucumbers, drinking a great Weissbier… heaven on heart!
On another subject … I just wanted to share with you the victory of my Sfogliatelle ricce in the "culinary duel" by Carla's blog L'acqua 'dorosa, which coincided with the Festival Giallo Mare. This victory brought me a fantastic chef knife Zwilling Twin Profection, and I I believe it will radically change my life in the kitchen, and two fantastic "dinners with murder" staged by the company "Partinquinta" on texts written for the occasion by guest writers (in my case Elisabetta Bucciarelli and Maurizio de Giovanni).
Here you can find some images of this award, and I hope to show you soon some more pictures and tell you all about this experience. I don't know yet if I'll tell you from my blog or from the blog Corpi Freddi – itinerari noir… or maybe from both of them.
Now I should share seven things about me:
- I'd like to improve my photographic skills, but I can't find the right time to do it.
- I'm the queen of multi-tasking… but sometimes I definitely overdo.
- I love reading: I can't go to sleep if I don't reed at least a few pages before.
- I have a lot of necklaces and earrings (cheap ones, uh), 'cause I love to match them with my clothes… but I end up wearing often the same ones!
- I'm a paper fetishist: I have a lot of paper, every color, every shape… I'm a maniac.
- I'm desperately looking for a job, but this economy (and Italy) makes everything so difficult… so currently I don't have a regular job.
- I love my boyfriend more than anyone in the world, and I choose to write this on number 7, 'cause it's my lucky number and 'cause in a week it will be our 7th anniversary!
And now I'm passing all these awards to
* Nami of Just One Cookbook
* Pola of Cooking Italian in the Midwest
* Adriana of Great Food 360°
* Paolo of Disgraces on the Menu
* Ally of Baking Journey
* Katrina of In Katrina's kitchen
* Camille & Marie of My Fudo
* Katherine of Katherine Martinelli
* Chef Dennis of Ask Chef Dennis