Continuing my recap of what I made for Oktoberfest, which I started in my last entry, I shall continue today starting with soft pretzels. These were probably the most successful thing I made for the party, and not terribly difficult to make either.
I mixed together all the wet ingredients first and added the flour bit by bit until it got to the consistency I wanted. I ended up using FAR FAR less flour than the recipe called for. After a bit of kneading, I put the dough in a big slightly oiled bowl covered with saran wrap, a dry towel and then a hot slightly damp towel. I left it alone for an hour after giving it by best "RIIIIIIISE my child! RIIIIIIIIIIIIIISE" inspirational speech.
The dough was huge and had a delightfully "airy" quality to it when I came back. It was fun to work with. I can't remember the last time I worked with bread dough like that. I set to work making it into little pretzel bow-ties.
While looking at the recipe, I noticed that it called for each pretzel to be dunked in a bath of hot water and baking soda before being cooked. A commenter explained that this caused a chemical reaction which gives soft pretzels their crusty brown exteriors, but leaves the inside soft and chewy. I thought that was pretty cool and wanted to share. Also, apparently in the "olden days" they would use lye to get the same reaction. Yowzers. Learning is fun!
I ended up putting each pretzel on top of a slotted spatula to give them their baking soda dunk. so they would keep their shape. I put them all on a lightly greased baking pan and sprinkled a generous amount of kosher salt on top.
As soon as they came out of the oven, I brushed melted butter on top. They were certainly a hit! There was some arguing in jest at the end of the party who would get to bring the leftover pretzels home. I served them with honey mustard, a cheese sauce and an odd fruity mustard mix I put together as dip choices. I'm not the biggest fan of pretzels myself and I loved them too. Being a perfectionist my only complaint would be about the shape. I wanted them to look like the giant pretzels you get at the mall, but they ended up looking more like puffy knots. I am guessing that rolling them out longer and leaving bigger holes will get me the shape I want.
The last Oktoberfest treat I want to talk about is the Black Forest Cake. The recipe for the cake part was simple enough. I split it up as evenly as I could into two tins lined with wax paper, which made popping the finished cakes out SUPER EASY. I left them to cool and moved on.
I couldn't find any canned cherries that weren't in heavy syrup, so I bought pre-made cherry pie filling, figuring that it would be pretty much the same thing as the finished cherry mixture. I did make the whipped cream frosting from scratch though, which according to my German neighbor is the only REAL way to make Black Forest Cake. At left you can see my whole set up with the cake split into three layers and some crumbs, whipped frosting and mashed cherry filling.
I am going to let the next four pictures speak for themselves as a sort of picture essay of my cake building, just because I think they look cool.
I am pretty sure this was the first layer cake I ever made. I think I did an good job of putting it together. I even went the whole nine yards and patted cake crumbs onto the sides, pipped more frosting along the edges and spread some of the cherry mix on top. Visually, I think it's the best cake I've ever made. I am unashamedly proud of how it looks.
Personally, though, I wasn't too pleased with how it tasted. It was good, but seemed a little bland to me. The cake itself also was a little dry. I saw a commenter who said on the recipe that they sprinkled some cherry liquor on the cakes before assembling the whole shebang. I bet that would give the dessert an extra kick and solve the dryness issue all at once.
All it all it was a fun party and the food all came out well. I can't wait for the next excuse to go overboard and create another party menu. Maybe friends of mine aren't joking when they say I should look into catering....
Until next time!