There’s a Bavarian restaurant in town that makes great obatzda and pretzels. Obatzda is a creamy cheese spread that features onion undertones and goes great with pretzels and beer. The wife absolutely loves soft pretzels with obatzda.
I use Alton Brown’s soft pretzel recipe. A video of the episode can be found at the link.
- 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
- 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
- Vegetable oil, for pan
- 10 cups water
- 2/3 cup baking soda
- 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- Pretzel salt
Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.
Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.
The cooking process is fairly complicated, but I think it’s worth the 8 large pretzels that it produces. They’re fluffier and more flavorful than most of the stale “hot pretzels” that you see desiccating away in those warming chambers at sporting arenas. They perfectly complement the cheese spread. Here’s a snapshot of the steps involved:
I usually prepare the dough in the stand mixer. The wife is better at finesse work, so she usually kneads and rolls the dough into form. Here she is making the pretzel shape:
The obatzda is a lot easier to prepare. It’s best if you make it the day before the pretzels, but it’s good fresh as well. This is a recipe I’ve cobbled together from various sources and perfected over time.
- 8 oz brie or camembert
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 4 oz butter, softened
- 1-2 green onions, chopped (light green and white parts only)
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon ground caraway
- salt to taste
Pulse everything in a food processor and then season to taste with salt if necessary. Garnish with paprika, finely sliced red onions, and chives. Or, don’t garnish with anything.
The lemon juice makes this a very bright-tasting cheese spread.
You can really play around with this obatzda recipe. If you want a spicier spread, substitute shredded pepper jack cheese for the brie. If you want a more mellow taste, substitute a dark ale for the lemon juice. You really can’t mess it up. I’ve even used this cheese spread to stuff smoked jalapeño poppers and they came out great.