Something I always love is a good soft pretzel and Russ loves his pretzels with some ooey gooey beer cheesey goodness. So, when I woke up one weekend craving some pretzels, there was nothing else to it but to make some with some beer cheese to help tie us over until Oktoberfest!
We pulled out our Bread Illustrated book and looked up the soft pretzel recipe and went to our trusted Food Network app for the beer cheese recipe. The beer cheese is super easy to make, so wait to make it until the pretzels are in the oven. When baking any bread-related product, always account for the rising times so you don’t wind up like us and trying to rush the process because you’re STARVING!
To start, whisk the flour, 4 teaspoons of salt, and the yeast together and set aside. Next, whisk the water, 2 tablespoons oil, and the brown sugar in a 4-cup liquid measuring cup until the sugar has dissolved. Slowly add the water mixture to the flour mixture and combine until a dough starts to form.
Transfer the dough to a cleaned, lightly floured surface and knead until a smooth, round ball is formed. Place the dough inside of a lightly greased large bowl (we grease ours with butter) and cover tightly with greased plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size – about 1 – 1 1/2 hours.
Lightly flour two rimmed baking sheets and press down on the dough to deflate. Transfer the dough to a clean section of the counter and press and stretch the dough into a large rectangle. Use a pizza cutter and cut the dough into 12 strips; cover loosely with greased plastic.
Stretch each piece of dough and roll it into a rope before shaping into a U and crisscrossing the ropes in the middle to form the pretzel shape. Place on the floured baking sheets, knot side up, and repeat for the remaining dough. Cover with greased plastic and allow to rise for approximately 15 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil and dissolve the baking soda. Use a slotted spoon or spatula and transfer 3 to 4 of the pretzels to the boiling water, knot side down. Cook for 30 seconds, flipping the pretzels halfway through. Transfer to a cooling rack and continue with the remaining pretzels.
Bake the pretzels until brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Make sure to switch the sheets about halfway through baking for a more even bake. While the pretzels bake, start the beer cheese. Heat the ingredients in a saucepan over low heat until fully melted. Transfer the cooked pretzels to a cooling rack and enjoy once cooled to your preferred temperature.
Clean the flour off of the cookie sheets and grease with remaining oil – NOTE: We wound up using cooking spray and thoroughly coating the sheets to prevent the pretzels from sticking. Transfer the pretzels to the baking sheets and sprinkle with a little pretzel salt.
Soft Pretzels ~
- 3 3/4 cups (20 2/3) ounces bread flour (we used normal white flour)
- Kosher salt
- 2 tsp instant or rapid-rise yeast
- 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) water, room temperature
- 3 Tbs vegetable oil
- 2 Tbs packed dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup baking soda
Beer Cheese ~
- 1 bottle of beer (we used Beck – a German beer)
- 3 cups of shredded cheddar cheese (the recipe calls for 2 cups, but we liked it better with a little extra)
- 2 packages (8 ounces each) of softened cream cheese
- 1 packet (1 ounce) Hidden Valley Original Ranch Dips Mix
- Chopped green onions to garnish