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Foodie friends, Oktoberfest and home-made pretzels

October 23, 2010

Pretzels at Oktoberfest in DubaiPretzel mania

Where do you think I found this mountain of pretzels? I bet that Dubai wouldn’t be top of your list but as the Autumnal months creep in Dubai residents can choose from a range of places around the city to celebrate Oktoberfest.  A group of us, all united by a love of food and writing about it online, thought that a trip to one of the most popular venues would be fun.  So off we went to the Hofbrauhaus in the JW Marriot in deepest, darkest Deira.

We arrived early and it was pretty empty giving us lots of time to take in the spectacle of Asian staff in full lederhosen.  The menu options are over-complicated and by the time the waiter worked out what we were all having I decided that I would abandon my car and dive into the German beers (the super deluxe package!). I was gasping for my stein of authentic Hofbrau.

Sausage and sauerkraut

Apart from the pretzels, the cold buffet looked a little sad although there was a good array of smoked fish and salads.  I’d been dreaming of sauerkraut, mustard and really good sausage since I visited Munich last December and there was a fair choice at the hot buffet.  Suckling pig is not something you see on a buffet in many Muslim countries.  The presentation was a bit lacking and there were no labels so I had no way of distinguishing my bratwurst from my knackworst.  I also played hunt the sauerkraut and then had to walk back out into the corridor to the salad buffet to get some mustard. (Continued after images)

Eccentric entertainment

The entertainment arrived and I will be tactful here as I don’t want to come across as completely cruel and heartless. Just think Una paloma blanca German style.  The place was now full, of German families in the main, who were obviously really enjoying themselves.  Children, dressed up in their best, the girls with neatly plaited hair, were dancing enthusiastically and parents and grandparents were swaying in time to the music.  Lederhosen was sported (complete with knitted knee warmers), dirndl dresses were swirled, steins were raised and weissbier consumed.  I had eaten so much meat that I was dreaming of lettuce for a week.

Overall we had a jolly time, mainly due to the great company and atmosphere.  The staff were great, it was good value for money and it was a family friendly version of Oktoberfest rather than standing on tables surrounded by young people singing loudly.  Let’s just say it was an experience.

Make your own pretzels

Making your own pretzels is fun, easy and a freshly baked one is a wonderful thing.  Apparently their exact origin is not known but could be France or Italy.  The folded dough is supposed to represent a child’s arms crossed in prayer and they were given as rewards for diligence. See below for recipe.

Homemade Pretzels collage

Soft pretzels

For the dough:
350 ml warm water (about 45 C)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoon sea salt
2¼ teaspoons dried active yeast
620 g plain flour
60 g unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil

To finish:
Cooking spray
2.3 litres water
130 g bicarbonate of soda
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tbsp. water
Pretzel or sea salt

Combine the water, sugar, salt and yeast in the bowl and mix to dissolve the yeast (I used my Kitchenaid with a paddle attachment).

Add in the flour and melted butter and mix just until the dough comes together (I used the paddle again)

Knead for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and clears the sides of the bowl (I used the dough hook on low speed).

Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly greased with vegetable oil, turning once to coat.  Cover with cling film and let rise in a warm place, about 50-55 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 220 C.  Line two baking sheets with baking or parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray.  Bring the water and bicarbonate of soda to a boil in a large saucepan or stockpot.

Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and roll each piece  into a long rope, about 60 cm. Do not flour your work surface, the oil will stop them from sticking.

Make a U-shape with the rope and, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and onto the bottom of the U-shape in order to form the shape of a pretzel.

Place onto the lined baking sheet.

Put the pretzels, one or two at a time,  into the boiling water for 30 seconds.  Remove from the water with a slotted spoon (I found it easy using 2 slotted spatulas) and return to the baking sheet.  Once all the pretzels have been boiled, brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle lightly with salt.  Bake in the preheated oven until dark golden brown, about 12-14 minutes.  Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Do try them. Ours were a bit irregular in shape as we made them in a hurry but my girls pronounced them better than the ones in Munich! Praise indeed. Have you had success with holiday food cooked at home? Which items are best left to the experts? Love to hear from you in the comments.

P.S. Visit I live in a frying pan for a different account of our evening.

  1. October 23, 2010 12:44 pm

    I work very near to the JW Mariott in Deira so I’ve been wanting to check out this German resto for the longest time! Alas even after almost 4 years in Dubai, I haven’t been able to! Great foodie experience you had and you got me on that suckling pig! 🙂

    • October 23, 2010 1:25 pm

      I’ve been once before with friends on a break from Saudi (starved of pork and alcohol). Used to go to JWM lots 10 years ago but so much has changed in Dubai since then.

  2. October 23, 2010 1:59 pm

    wow, those pretzels look pretty perfectly shaped if you ask me! Question – how did you get the wet, post-boiled pretzels to not stick to the baking sheet? When I tried my mini pretzels, I had to literally yank them off the sheet and then peel the sheet of the back of each pretzel…

    On another note, so glad to see that you’ve written about our Oktoberfest night…you’ve been so tactful and kind in your review of that night that I feel ashamed at my blatant cruelty! 😉

    Love the write -up and pics overall, thanks for sharing the experience!

    • October 23, 2010 2:04 pm

      A light spray of cooking oil on the parchment seemed to do the trick. They didn’t stick at all.
      I loved your account – it was really entertaining (I didn’t think I was that kind!)

  3. October 23, 2010 8:43 pm

    hi sally, loved the post. pretzels looks delish… and i loved that little info you shared abt their shape.

    • October 24, 2010 11:31 am

      I can’t stop looking at them without thinking of crossed arms now Rajani.

  4. October 24, 2010 12:10 pm

    Sorry I missed the night out – although seems the event itself was a bit of a non-starter! I generally find that a buffet means lower quality food. I’ve eaten a normal meal at the Hofbrauhaus in Rotana Abu Dhabi and it was great food and service. See you next time!

  5. October 24, 2010 12:32 pm

    Sally, thanks for stopping by my blog, or I’d never have learnt that pretzels are supposed to represent a child’s arms crossed in prayer! I’ll have to try and make some now! 🙂

  6. October 24, 2010 3:10 pm

    Love it Sally, as I love the history behind them. Great that you made them, and even better that the girls gave them a high five! way to go … bookmarked. {Is that really 130gm of soda-bicarb?}

    • October 24, 2010 3:39 pm

      I made 8 on the Saturday and today (Sunday) they are all gone! I hate to think how high our salt consumption got.
      The amount of bicarb had me racing down to the shop halfway through preparation to get some more. I used an amalgamation of recipes (all in cup measurements by the way so I’ve converted into my preference of weighing as I am really not into measuring tablespoons of butter) and this was the consensus. It’s just under a whole tin which does seem a lot. It’s my first time of making so I might try and reduce this next time. If anyone has a view on this I’d love to hear.

  7. October 26, 2010 7:14 pm

    oh, great to know what the shape of pretzel represents. Very interesting!

  8. October 28, 2010 1:14 am

    these pretzels are absolutely perfect:) thank you for sharing this.

  9. peasepudding permalink
    October 30, 2010 11:20 pm

    I lived in Frankfurt and love an authentic pretzel, we also had our own Oktoberfest this year which I made 90 Nuremberg sausages for! Needless to say I didn’t have time for pretzel making this time round but will make them again at some point. Yours look great.

    • October 31, 2010 8:15 am

      How do you make a Nuremberg sausage and how long does it take to make 90?! Sounds delicious though.

  10. October 31, 2010 8:54 pm

    Oh my god, salty pretzels from Pret a Manger for breakfast used to be my downfall when I worked in the West End, it never occurred to me I might make my own at home!! They look wonderful.

    • October 31, 2010 9:24 pm

      It’s one of those things that look so complicated but a actual not difficult at all. Eating freshly baked pretzels was a revelation. If you make some I’d be interested to hear what you think.


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