I have recently been informed that some family members were planning to attend Oktoberfest in Munich. Without me! Naturally, I was a jealous mess for several weeks leading up to the event. However, I did manage to pursue a similar experience (or as close as I could get) without leaving the province.
Oktoberfest began as a celebration of the wedding between the Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810. The festivities were held on the fields in front of the city gates, while all of Munich’s citizens were invited to attend. The festival grounds which were thereafter known as the Theresienwiese (“Theresa’s meadow”) or “weisn” to the locals. Somehow this morphed into an anniversary party, then a public festival and has since become a tradition to consume fermented grain.
The website offers some helpful information on planning your visit, as well as some interesting facts and numbers about the event. This year 5.9 million guests attended this year, while the Lost and Found collected 600 passports, 580 wallets, 320 mobile phones, 220 bags and “rucksacks” (or backpacks, whatever you want to call them), 18 cameras, 230 glasses and 45 pieces of jewellery or watches, among other more unusual items.The Calgary Oktoberfest is more or less an extension of the Calgary International Beer Fest – numerous local breweries get together, brew some special casks and flaunt their delicious wares. There are however a few more costumed attendees. And live music.
I was impressed by the food offered there. Last Best put on a delicious pot of Elk Meatballs with a double-smoked bacon tomato sauce (I might have gone back for seconds). However, I was disappointed with the lack of German food. Where were the bratwurst? The schnitzel? Naturally, the next day I concocted the German food I’d missed. Starting with the following soft pretzels.
1 bottle (12 ounces) pilsner or Oktoberfest-style beer
1 package (1 tbsp.) active dry yeast
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
4 – 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
- In a small saucepan, heat beer to 110°F. Remove from heat and sprinkle yeast overtop.
- In a large bowl, combine oil, sugar, 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, and 3 cups flour. Pour in yeast mixture and beat until smooth.
- Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft, sticky dough.
- Turn dough onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.
- Transfer dough to a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 425°. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide and shape into ten balls.
- Roll each into a long rope, approximately 20-24″ long. Curve ends of each rope to form a circle; twist ends once and lay over opposite side of circle, pinching ends to seal into a pretzel shape.
- Fill a large pot with 10 cups water. Stir in baking soda and heat to a boil.
- Drop pretzels, one or two at a time, into boiling water. Cook 30 seconds.
- Remove each pretzel with a slotted spoon and drain well on towels, removing as much moisture as possible.
- Place at least two inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.
- In a small bowl, whisk egg yolk and water. Brush egg mixture over pretzels and sprinkle with coarse salt.
- Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to a wire rack to cool.
- Freeze option: Freeze cooled pretzels in resealable plastic freezer bags. To use, thaw at room temperature or, if desired, microwave each pretzel on high 20-30 seconds or until heated through. Yield: 8 pretzels.
- Divide and shape dough into eight balls; roll each into a 14-in. rope. Starting at one end of each rope, loosely wrap dough around itself to form a coil. Boil, top and bake as directed. Yield: 8 pretzels. To Make Pretzel Bites: Divide and shape into eight balls; roll each into a 12-in. rope. Cut each rope into 1-in. pieces. Boil and top as directed;
- Bake at 400° for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown.
Makes 10 large pretzels. Serve with mustard for dipping.
Recipe adapted from Taste of Home. http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/soft-beer-pretzels