My dad took me to my first Boston Celtics game when I was 12. We drove up to the Garden for an afternoon game and before finding our seats we made a pit stop at the snack stand for two soft pretzels with mustard, a beer for dad, and a soda for me. It was the first time I had a soft pretzel and I’m not sure if it was being at my first NBA game, the quality time with dad, or how damn good they are, but I was hooked.
I come from a family of big Boston sports fans, and I have many fond memories at Fenway, Gillette, and the Garden. There was the rained out Red Sox game at Fenway when the entire team used the top of the dug out as a slip and slide (possibly more entertaining then the actual game would have been!), the Bruins game when my mom was on the jumbotron twice, and the Celtics game when Ray Allen scored a long two pointer to send the team to the NBA finals in ’08. And you bet we had soft pretzels and beer at every game.
I had friends over to watch the AFC Championship game, told them about my family’s love of soft pretzels, and promised to make some for our Superbowl party. Because soft pretzels and beer are inseparable in my family, I decided to add beer into the pretzels. Instead of using all white flour, I added some spelt flour. Spelt is an ancient form of wheat that is high in protein and has a delicious, nutty flavor that works really well with the hops in the beer. The pretzels have a very subtle beer flavor and are crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. I highly recommend dipping them in your favorite mustard and washing them back with a cold beer.
*Notes – If you don’t want to use beer this recipe will work just fine with water, just substitute water everywhere you see beer. If you don’t want to use spelt flour or can’t find it, whole wheat flour is a great substitute. If you want to do some of the prep ahead, you can refrigerate the dough tightly sealed with plastic wrap. Before rolling and baking, bring the dough to room temperature. These are best eaten right out of the oven, but will last in a sealed container for a couple of days. Just toast them in the oven to re-heat.
spelt + beer soft pretzels
makes 8 soft pretzels
1/2 cup warm water
1 package yeast
pinch of sugar
1 1/2 cups of your favorite beer at room temperature, divided into 1 cup and 1/2 cup (I used IPA)
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups spelt flour
6 cups water
1/3 cup baking soda
1/4 cup high heat oil for brushing on the pretzels
coarse salt for sprinkling
Pour warm water into the bowl of your standmixer (or a mixing bowl), sprinkle the package of yeast and a pinch of sugar over the water and let sit for 8-10 minutes until it is foamy.
Add a cup of (room temp!) beer, both flours, and the salt to the bowl. Using your stand mixer (or wooden spoon) mix until the dough forms.
Flour a clean surface and knead the dough a few times until a ball is formed. Place the ball of dough in an oiled bowl and let rise for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.
Once dough has risen, combine the remaining 1/2 cup beer, 6 cups water, and baking soda in a pot and bring to a simmer.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll them into long strips, fold into a U, twist two or three times, and bring the ends of the strands to the bottom of the pretzels. Click here for a tutorial (I used the second method).
Once water/beer/baking soda combination is simmering, lower pretzels in one at a time and simmer until pretzel rises to the surface. Remove the pretzel from the water and place it on the parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Brush each pretzel with oil, sprinkle with the coarse salt, and bake for 10-12 minutes.
Dip in mustard, wash down with a beer, and repeat!