Suzi's Blog

Homemade Soft Pretzels for Oktoberbest [Join us here this Friday!]


For this Friday’s Oktoberfest Class at Cooking by the Book, Suzen has been determined, determined to perfect baking pretzels. For the past month, she’s looking at multiple recipes, made many batches, and very often grumbled. She wants those ideal pretzels, with the size, taste, and texture that make you melt.

And, I am happy to announce that Suzen is finally happy. This recipe from Alton Brown, with some tweaks on Suzi’s part, makes just that delightful pretzel you so often crave.

We hope you can join us Friday for Oktoberfest. If you can’t, then do your own celebration with this recipe. To register for Oktoberfest at Cooking by the Book, this Friday at 6:30, please use this link:

Homemade Soft Pretzels

Yield: 8 pretzels


  • 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 facedown into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 15 seconds. Than Flip them over and place in boiling water for another 15 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.

Inspired by: Alton Brown



Oktoberfest at Cooking by the Book: This Friday!


This Friday will be Round 2 for Small Bites Big Sips, the new cooking classes here at Cooking by the Book. We’ve had many requests for classes open to the public and Small Bites Big Sips is our response. Uniquely, in these classes we start with the beverage and then find the foods that best complement those liquids.

Last week, we did four delicious wines from Paumanok Winery on Long Island. This Friday, with September already half gone, it’s time for Oktoberfest.

This Friday at 6:30 PM beer expert Tom Gelinne will feature a tasting of four outstanding German beers typical of Oktoberfest. We’ll sample the beers while Tom provides beer knowledge and some Oktoberfest history. Tom’s beer discussion with go from dark to light beers and what makes each one distinctive.

Tom will discuss beer quality, including the hops and grains used, the fermentation styles and the very distinctive tastes of combination creates for you.

Then you’ll take a tour, not of Germany, but our showroom kitchen. You’ll get a demonstration about to how to make the very best pretzels you have ever had in your life. Suzen has conducted serious R&D here, along with testing and tasting, to get you just the perfect pretzel.

You’ll return to the dining area for more beer and a tasting of four wonderful dishes:

  • Those homemade pretzels you just saw demoed
  • Beer soaked bratwurst
  • Spicy beer mustard for those pretzels and brats
  • Linzer tart [traditional, perfect and containing absolutely no beer!]

As with the wines, you’ll be amazed at how differently each of the four beers now taste when complemented with food. Your personal favorites might just change. And you will truly experience the power of pairing food and beverage.

If you are a beer lover or a curious foodie, we hope you can join us. If you would like to register for the class, please go to

If you can’t come, please consider this idea for one of your fall parties. It’s a great way to add some flavor to a weekend afternoon where some football fanatics need to cheer a victory or cry in their beer. Let’s make that good beer.