Although Oktoberfest has morphed into a festival of beer, it began as a celebration of a royal wedding more than 200 years ago. It starts in September, last for 16 days and ends on the first Sunday in October.
I can assume that most of you won’t be making it to Munich to participate in the festivities at the celebrations birth place. But, if you want to throw yourself your own little Oktoberfest, I have some facts for you that can help you celebrate in a more authentic fashion than those American street fairs in late October with macro beer and sorifity girls in period inaccurate midriff baring wardrobes.
First, you’ll need some local beer, Oktoberfest only serves beer brewed in the Munich city limits. Follow suit and find the breweries closest to your own home, or talk that home brewer you know into making you a batch, those guys are always up for sharing.
Second, learn the opening salute. For the past 60 years the celebration has been kicked off by the mayor of Munich yelling, “O’ zapft ist!” (it’s tapped!) after the very first keg of Oktoberfest beer has been tapped.
Make fun of people who can’t hold their liquor. Really, this is always a good idea, but at the festivals in Munich, those who get too drunk and pass out are teased with the label “Bierleichen” (beer corps). Please, know your limits.
Traditional foods include: Roast pork, sausages, pretzels, potato dumplings, cheese noodles, potato pancakes, sauerkraut, and spiced cheese-butter spread.
Although not technically a traditional Oktoberfest food, beer cheese soup has made it’s way onto Oktoberfest menus all over the word. Throw in some sausage and sauerkraut and serve it in a pretzel bread bowl to make it a little more credible.
Beer Pretzel Bread Bowls & Oktoberfest
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1 packet of dry active yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 1/4 cup wheat beer
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1/3 cup baking soda
- 3 tbs melted butter
- 2 tbs coarse salt
(Makes 4 bread bowls or 8 dinner rolls. Bread bowls are fairly small and only hold about a cup of soup each.)
- Add flour, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tsp sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachement. Stir to combine.
- In a microwave safe bowl, add the beer. Microwave for 20 seconds, test temperature and repeat until the beer reaches 110 degrees (if the beer is too hot, it will kill the yeast). Sprinkle the beer with the yeast and wait for it to foam (this is called proofing the yeast, if it doesn't foam the yeast is bad).
- Pour the beer into the bowl and stir at a low speed until well combined, turn the speed up to medium until the dough gathers around the hook and is smooth.
- Oil a large bowl with olive oil. Remove the dough from the mixer, form into a ball and place in prepared bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to sit in a warm, dry area until doubled in size, about 40 minutes.
- Remove the dough from the bowl, knead on a light flowed surface until smooth, about 2 minutes. Break into 4 equal pieces (you can also make 8 dinner roll size portions) form into balls. Cover balls with plastic wrap, allow to sit until doubled in size, about 20 mintes.
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Fill a large pot with water, making sure there is room for it bubble up without spilling over, but deep enough for the large dough balls. Bring water to a boil, add the baking soda. Cut an X into the top of each bread ball. Place gently in the baking soda water and cook, turning once, for about 30 seconds. Remove from water and place on a baking sheet covered with a Silpat, or sprayed with cooking spray, cut side up. Repeat for all bread balls.
- Brush liberally with melted butter, sprinkle with salt.
- Bake at 375 for 25 minutes, or until a dark golden brown in color.
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