German Style Soft Pretzels and Mustard

Soft Pretzels and Homemade Mustard

September 2021–with thanks to Terry Kelzer, Farm Table Instructor

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German Style Soft Pretzels–Brezel

It’s Oktoberfest! The perfect time to make, and shape, your own pretzels. Dipped and baked, warm out of the oven, along with your homemade mustard! 


(Yields 10 to 12 pretzels)

  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 1 ½ cups water or beer or ½ and ½ water and beer
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 3 tablespoons butter, soft
  • 2 teaspoons (12g) table salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground caraway seed (optional)
  • ¼ cup diastatic malt powder (optional–higher rise and promotes browning)

Diastatic malt powder is especially useful when flour does not have barley malt added, as is true for most whole wheat flour and many organic flours. Diastatic malt powder contains active enzymes that help convert starch into sugar. This action can speed up the rising process and make bread rise more quickly.

The Water Bath: 2 quarts water; bring to a boil with ½ cup baking soda.

Toppings: egg yolk wash (2 egg yolks mixed with water) and coarse sea salt, kosher salt or pretzel salt, or assorted seed toppings. Note: unsalted pretzels are called baldies.

  1. Weigh or measure your flour. Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix and knead to make a supple, elastic dough.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow it to rise for 45 minutes. 
  3. Uncover the bowl and, using a bowl scraper or spatula, run the scraper or spatula down the inside far wall of the bowl and pull the dough over on itself making a fold; do this several times. Re-cover the bowl, and let the dough rise for another 30 minutes.
  4. Gently deflate the dough and divide it into 10 pieces; each will weigh about 100g. Shape each piece into a rough log, cover, and let rest for about 20 minutes; this rest will make the pretzels easier to shape. 
  5. To shape the pretzels: Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll it into an 18- to 22-inch-long rope and shape it into a pretzel. Place shaped pretzels on sprayed or parchment-lined baking sheets.
  6. When all the pretzels have been shaped, cover and refrigerate to chill thoroughly. This will help the pretzel keep their shape.
  7. While the pretzels are chilling, preheat your oven to 450°F. Prepare the water bath by bringing the water and baking soda to a boil in a wide pot. 
  8. To boil the pretzels: Put 3 or 4 pretzels at a time into the boiling water and cook for 1 minute without turning over. Transfer boiled pretzels back to their baking sheets. Using a sharp knife or lame, slash each pretzel horizontally across its base.
  9. Sprinkle the pretzels with coarse sea salt, kosher salt, or pretzel salt, if desired.
  10. To bake the pretzels: Bake for about 14 minutes in a 450-degree oven, or until the pretzels are well-browned. Remove from oven; cool on a rack. Store any leftover pretzels, well-wrapped, for up to 3 days on the counter; freeze for longer storage.

Note: If you are interested in being a “pretzel professional” and soaking these pretzels with lye instead of baking soda: know that it is serious business and care must be taken. Use only food-grade lye. You must wear eye protection and rubber or latex gloves! Mix 20g food-grade lye into a non-reactive bowl holding 500g cold water and stir to dissolve. Transfer your shaped pretzel to the bath and let soak for 10 to 15 seconds. Place the pretzel on a stainless-steel rack over parchment to catch any excess solution. After a few minutes, transfer the dipped pretzel to a silicone or parchment-lined baking sheet. The dough can then be scored, salted, and baked. To dispose of the diluted lye solution, pour it directly down the drain, then follow with a few seconds of cold water from the sink faucet.

Three Homemade Mustard Recipes

Mustard has been used throughout millennia as a food and as a medicine. All parts of the plant are edible. For mustard making one uses the seeds. There are 3 kinds of mustard seed: yellow, brown, and black. Yellow is the most mellow, brown are spicy, and black are the spiciest. When making mustard, note that water temperature is a crucial determinant of spiciness: hot and warm water make a less spicy mustard, cold water makes a hot mustard.

Brad’s Brown German Mustard Recipe

  • 3 tablespoons whole brown mustard seeds
  • 3 tablespoons coarse ground brown mustard seeds
  • 5 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard powder
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

Mix dry ingredients together. Then mix three liquids together: 

  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup white verjus (unfermented, unripe grapes—adds acidity and sweetness)
  • ¼ cup sauerkraut juice (it is a probiotic addition)

You may substitute beer for verjus. Mixture will be loose but will come together and thicken over a couple days. Combine everything—put in covered container and rest 2 to 4 days.

Professor Art’s Bavarian Yellow Mustard Recipe

  • ¼ cup finely ground yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric (optional, will make the mustard a brighter yellow)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar or honey

Mix together dry ingredients.

  • 1 ½ tablespoons water
  • 2 ½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Mix together liquids for a milder mustard. For a hotter mustard add water first and mix; then wait a few minutes before adding the vinegar. The vinegar (acid) fixes the amount of heat. Mix all together very well and then put in covered container and rest for 3 to 5 days.

A Dijon Style Mustard 

  • ½ cup black mustard seeds soaked 2 to 24 hours
  • 1 ½ ounces dry white wine
  • 1-ounce white wine vinegar
  • A few tablespoons of water
  • Water for soaking seeds
  • Salt to taste
  • Pinch of sugar
  1. Soak seeds in water for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours
  2. Drain the seeds through a sieve. Place in a mortar and grind with a pestle. The grinding process will take some time with the object of extracting the yellow mustard from the husks. 
  3. When the yellow begins to appear (after about 10 minutes) the liquids can start to be incorporated by first adding the wine. Continue grinding. 
  4. The vinegar and salt can then be added, but the grinding needs to continue until the mixture becomes fine, although some people may prefer a coarser mustard. 
  5. Once the desired consistency is reached, the mustard should be tasted for the purpose of adjusting the flavors. 
  6. Adding sugar will break down bitterness, and more vinegar and/or wine will reduce the heat. 
  7. Traditionally the mixture is then passed through a sieve, using the back of a metal or wooden spoon. 
  8. You do have the choice to have a coarser mustard and not put it through a sieve.
  9. Store the mustard in a jar and refrigerate for a few days to allow to mature (this will also reduce the ‘heat’ of the mustard).


Obatzda: Bavarian/German Cheese Spread Recipe

Obatzda is a classic German beer-garden food found on pretzel snack platters with sausage, pickles, and radishes.

  • 10 ounces ripe Camembert cheese, rind removed and roughly chopped
  • ¾ cup cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • ½ teaspoon paprika, hot or sweet or some of both
  • ½ teaspoon ground caraway
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup German wheat beer
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • chopped chives for topping

In a medium bowl, mash together the cream cheese, Camembert cheese, and softened butter until well combined. Add the minced onion, sweet Hungarian paprika, spicy Hungarian paprika, ground caraway, salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Mix until thoroughly combined. Add cream to get to desired consistency. Refrigerate for a few hours to let the tastes meld together. If you like a smooth spread, combine the cheeses, butter, and spices in a food processor until smooth. Add the minced onion last, by hand, and top with chopped chives.