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Nov 23, 2017
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Posts Tagged ‘pretzels’

Short List: St. Louis’ top 3 house pretzels

Friday, September 8th, 2017

Is there anything better equipped to satiate hunger and simultaneously increase thirst than the pub pretzel? I haven’t found it. A bready, delicious heft of hot, salty carbs served with mustard and cheese for slathering, washed down with a cold pint, it’s the perfect feast. While the pretzel is decidedly German, it has taken on a life of its own in St. Louis. Here are three of the best house-made pretzels this side of the Rhine. 

 

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1. Charleville Brewing Co. & Tavern 2101 Chouteau Ave., St. Louis, 314.241.4677, charlevillebeer.com

The pretzel at Charleville is made with spent grain – that’s the grain left over from the beer-brewing process – and comes out with a glowing, blond hue. The top is salted and slathered in butter, which pools at the bottom of the plate and soaks the base of the crust that’s dredged in leftover grain. The dough is heady with a hint of nuttiness in the aftertaste, and when you pull it apart, it doesn’t tear – it shreds. The rosemary whole-grain mustard offers an initial hint of sweetness, but it is spicy enough to singe your nose hair. Order with a pint of house Half Wit Wheat for the perfect pairing.

 

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2. Das Bevo 4749 Gravois Ave, St. Louis, 314.396.6900, dasbevo.com

Recently opened in Bevo Mill, Das Bevo is already making headway with its pretzel game, relying on the skills of Anne Cronin (the pretzel maker who also sells her goods at the Arnold Farmers Market). These beauties come German-style, two by two, with a hot, crunchy crust that bounces back if you give it a pinch. The extra heap of salt on top means you’ll need nothing less than a pitcher of Griesedieck to accompany them. Enjoy with both house-made grain mustard and beer pub cheese sauce on the side.

 

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3. Union Loafers Café & Bread Bakery 1629 Tower Grove Ave., St. Louis, 314.833.6111, unionloafers.com

The pretzels at this first-rate bakery have a rustic personality. They are handmade daily in the classic knot shape (with a gentle twist at the top) and finished with a lovely scatter of big, square Maldon salt flakes. Less buttery than some, these Bavarian-style beauties take a generous lye bath for a dark color and a thick, chewy crust. The house-made grain mustard served with it is exceptional, but unnecessary since the flavor of the dough unravels in your mouth as soon as you take a bite.

Photos by Izaiah Johnson

Kevin Korinek is a freelance writer and photographer with a passion for making homemade pie.

The Weekend Project: Pretzels and Beer Cheese

Friday, October 28th, 2016

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Soft pretzels fresh from the oven are practically an out-of-body experience – especially when paired with beer cheese sauce, pungent mustard and a pint of a good beer.

Bad pretzels, on the other hand, are not worth the energy it takes to chew them. The disappointment of a stale or soggy pretzel can only be soothed with a significant amount of dark chocolate.

Don’t take chances on such despair. Homemade pretzels are not difficult, and with the right chemicals, safety gear and a friend to help shape and consume, this is a perfect activity for a Halloween weekend.

Like bagels, pretzels are made from a simple yeast dough that’s sweetened with malt syrup. After a short rise, they are shaped, submerged in a lye solution, and then baked for a few minutes. While a baking soda-based alkaline solution does produce pretzels with decent chew, a short bath in lye produces a much more robust color and flavor.

 

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Working with food-grade lye (available online) does require a few precautions. Be sure to wear clean rubber gloves, eye covering and an apron or smock to protect against any splashes. Also, work in a well-ventilated area. We took this step outside to avoid any overwhelming fumes.

And before you write this recipe off as too much work – yes, I hate buying extra equipment and ingredients for one recipe, too. I am always open to substitutions, but after hearing the results of other homemade pretzel experiments, the mad scientist in me was curious enough to see for myself. The conclusion in our household was unanimous: pretzels dipped in lye had a much better aroma, chew and color than those made with baking soda solution and were by far the favorite.

We provided you with a lovely, roux-based beer cheese sauce, but if you feel like upping your mad scientist game this weekend, a little sodium citrate will take the creamy texture of your sauce to the next level.

 

The Shopping List*
2 Tbsp. malt syrup
1 Tbsp. (1¾ oz.) active dry yeast
4 to 4½ cup bread flour
½ cup food-grade lye
Coarse sea salt
2 Tbsp. flour or 5½ g. sodium citrate
6 oz. lager
3 to 4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded
Splash of Louisiana-style hot sauce
¼ tsp. paprika

*This list assumes you have kosher salt and butter at hand in your kitchen. If not, you will need to purchase those items, too.

 

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Mad Scientist Pretzels
8 servings

1½ cup warm water (approximately 110 degrees)
2 Tbsp. malt syrup*
1 Tbsp. (1¾ oz.) active dry yeast
2 tsp. kosher salt
4 to 4½ cup bread flour
2 quarts cold water
½ cup food-grade lye**
Coarse sea salt

Special equipment: clean rubber gloves, protective eyewear, apron, large nonreactive (plastic or glass) bowl

• In the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached, combine the warm water, yeast, malt syrup and kosher salt. Let rest 5 minutes until the liquid begins to bubble.
• With the mixer on low speed, add the flour 1 cup at a time until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Increase to medium speed and knead the dough 5 to 6 minutes, adding more flour if it is too sticky. The dough should be soft, but not wet.
• Place the dough in a large mixing bowl and cover with a dry towel or oiled plastic wrap. Let rise 30 to 45 minutes, until it has doubled in size.
• Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly oil a baking sheet.
• Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll and gently stretch the 1 piece of dough into a 2-foot long rope. To make a traditional pretzel, form the rope into a U-shape. Cross one side over the other, then twist and fold the ends down to the bottom of the U and press gently to adhere. Place the pretzel on the baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough pieces.
• Don clean rubber gloves, protective eyeware and an apron. In a well-ventilated space, add the cold water and lye to a large nonreactive bowl and mix with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until the lye dissolves.
• Use gloved hands to gently submerge 1 pretzel in the lye bath 10 seconds. Return to the baking sheet and sprinkle with the coarse sea salt. Repeat with the remaining pretzels.
• Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until the pretzels are browned. Remove from cooking sheet and cool on a rack. Serve with beer cheese sauce or coarse-grain mustard.

*Available at Whole Foods
**Available online

 

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Beer Cheese Sauce No. 1
2 cups

2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
6 oz. lager
3 to 4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded
Splash of Louisiana-style hot sauce
¼ tsp. paprika

• In a small pot over medium-low heat, melt the butter and add the flour and stir 2 minutes, scraping the sides to completely cook the flour. Add the beer and continue stirring until it warm.
• Add the cheese and stir until melted. Let simmer, stirring, until the beer has reduce and the cheese sauce reaches the desired consistency. A thick sauce takes about 5 minutes.
• Stir in the hot sauce and paprika and serve with pretzels. Sauce will keep, refrigerated, in an airtight container for several weeks.

 

Beer Cheese Sauce No. 2
Adapted from a recipe from The Modernist Cuisine
2 cups

6 oz. lager
5½ g. sodium citrate*
3 to 4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded
Splash of Louisiana-style hot sauce
¼ tsp. paprika

• In a small pot over medium-low heat, whisk together the beer and sodium citrate until the sodium citrate completely dissolves. Bring to a simmer.
• Whisk in the cheese 1 spoonful at a time until melted.
• Stir in the hot sauce and paprika and serve with pretzels. Sauce will keep, refrigerated, in an airtight container for several weeks.

* Available online

 

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-photos by Michelle Volansky 

Just Five: Soft Pretzels

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Some sources trace pretzels back to 610 A.D. when an Italian monk used leftover dough to make pretiola – or “little rewards” to give to children who had learned their prayers. Christians prayed with their arms crossed and their hands on their shoulders, a gesture echoed by the shape of the pretzel.

While the pretzel’s history is steeped in Christianity, I think of it as ballpark or bar food. One thing’s for sure: Big, soft, salty, fresh pretzels really satisfy – and they are one of the easiest things to make at home. For Just Five groupies, I’ve included links to two sauces that go great with these doughy treats and don’t break the five-ingredient rule.

Soft Pretzels
Adapted by Dee Ryan from a recipe by Alton Brown

8 Servings

1½ cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees) plus 10 cups cold water, divided
2 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. plus 4 Tbsp. salt, preferably kosher
1 package (2¼ tsp.) active dry yeast
3 Tbsp. melted butter
4½ cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. vegetable or olive oil
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk, whisked with 1 tsp. water

• Combine the 1½ cups of warm water, honey and 2 teaspoons of salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and stir. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let sit for 5 minutes or until yeast looks foamy.
• Add the melted butter and flour and mix on low, using the dough hook attachment, until combined. (You can do this by hand, it will just take a lot of elbow grease.) Change the speed to medium for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and stays on the hook.
• Remove the dough from the bowl and set aside. Clean out the bowl and grease it with oil. Place the dough back in the oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a light towel. Place the bowl in a warm place for about 50 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
• Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and place oven racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Line 2 trays with parchment paper.
• Bring the remaining 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a full boil in an 8-quart saucepan.
• While the water is coming to a boil, turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled (not floured) work surface (wood is best). Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.
• Roll each piece of dough into a 16- to 20-inch rope, rolling from the center of the dough out. To form the pretzel, make a U-shape with the dough on your surface, then cross the ends over each other and press the ends onto the bottom of the U-shape. I like to add an extra twist in the middle.
• Using a slotted spoon or spatula, carefully place 1 pretzel in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove, draining as much water as possible, and place on the lined tray. Repeat with the remaining dough.
• Brush the top of each pretzel with the egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle each pretzel with about ½ tablespoon of salt (more if you prefer).
• Bake for about 12 to 14 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven, let cool about 5 minutes, and serve.

Dipping Sauces
This Cheese and Mustard Dipping Sauce from Country Living magazine comes together in scant minutes and is delicious with the pretzels (and french fries).

Looking for something a little less heavy but just as DIY? Check out this recipe for Basic Country Mustard from Hank Shaw, author of Hunt Gather Cook. It’s quite easy, but patience is definitely one of the ingredients here. This recipe takes a minimum of 12 hours. Feel free to play with different vinegars, herbs, sweeteners and heat to come up with your perfect mustard.

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