Sunday, October 17, 2010

Project Food Blog #5 - German Pretzel Pizza

Dear Readers, we've made it halfway through Project Food Blog! This round is to put a spin on pizza. If you'd like to vote, I'd love your support - thank you!

My inspiration for this entry was an eight day trip my fiancé and I took to Germany a few years ago. I surprised him on Christmas by giving him an early birthday present - a car themed trip to Germany for his 30th birthday.

He builds cars from the ground up to race, so he does know a good car manufacturer. He has a soft spot for German engineering, so we planned a trip around the entire country to try and squeeze in as many car related items as possible. We went to a total of thirteen cities during the trip. We ended up exhausting ourselves, but it was well worth it.

Our little point and shoot camera we had at the time captured the vacation.

This is the Volkswagen Factory seen from our hotel room in Wolfsburg, Germany - our favorite part of the vacation. This city was the only time we splurged and it was well worth it. The hotel offered the most luxurious experience we've ever had, with its modern decor and 5 star restaurants. The area even had its own car theme park, if you will, although not with rides like the ones here in America. It's mostly to showcase the advanced technological capabilities the German car industry has to offer, and some of the gravity defying car displays were quite impressive - like the car that is on a wall which rotates inside and out one of the buildings.

We took the trains a few times, including an overnight train, and the rides were always amazing - weaving in and out of tunnels and through vineyards in the countryside. It made me wish we had high speed trains in America. We did rent a car twice to enjoy driving without a speed limit on the autobahn, and, as seen by our speedometer, we took full advantage of that (in MPH, it's about 140).

In the southern part of the country, you can see the Alps, which is where the famous Neuschwanstein Castle in Fussen, Germany can be found. We snuck in this visit in between car museums. The view from the top is breathtaking. It's built around four lakes and a waterfall in the midst of the Alps. We must return one day.

Since we spent so much time in small towns, we actually didn't get to experience a wide variety of German food. It turns out Germany isn't riddled with street signs like we're used to at home, so we didn't realize at the time many restaurants in tiny towns are only open at certain hours and can be found in people's homes really. We made our way through the trip by eating a lot of pretzels, as seen by the giant specimen my lovely fiancé is modeling.

When thumbing through the photos from our trip, this photo speaks the most to me. We had an amazing time together experiencing a new culture and tasting classic foods the Germans have been making for centuries. I wanted to recreate some of the foods we enjoyed together to remind us how lucky we were on that trip.

I decided to personalize the pretzel instead of attempting to mimic the perfect German pretzel. I prefer to soak my flour which makes it more nourishing and greatly reduces antinutrients, like phytic acid, which puts a strain on the digestive system. I also am using a mix of stone ground whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour so the traditional pretzel taste comes through.

For my "pizza" sauce, I chose to make my own version of German sweet mustard. And my toppings would be traditional bratwurst and sauerkraut.

I also did not use beer in the pretzel dough, which can be an option, so I found an imported organic German beer to wash it down with instead.

I am so pleased with my "pizza"! The pretzel dough came out with the classic chewy outside and soft inside I love in my soft pretzels. The stone ground whole wheat did have a dominant flavor in the pretzel, but adding equal parts of the all-purpose flour brought the classic pretzel taste through that we experienced in Germany. The toppings were heavenly and so reminiscent of those warm dinners we had to keep us toasty on those cool German nights.

My fiancé is not a...connoisseur of food. He has fine taste (obviously since he's with me), but he eats simply because he has to. So to hear him compliment my pizza creation, especially to recreate some of the tastes we experienced on our Germany trip together, means quite a bit to me.

If you're longing to experience some classic German eats and fill your belly, this would be the "pizza" for you.

German Sweet Mustard
Printable Recipe

1 medium yellow onion, grated (3/4 cup)
3/4 cup ground mustard powder
1/3 cup brown mustard seeds
1/3 cup yellow mustard seeds
2 large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
5 tbsp brown sugar
5 tbsp raw honey
1 tbsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp dill seeds
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup hot, filtered water
1 cup apple cider vinegar, with The Mother

First, grate the onion.

Then add the grated onion and all ingredients of mustard through nutmeg into a large glass bowl. (The brown sugar and raw honey will seem like a bit much, but believe me, you'll need it.)

Then add the hot water and stir. Try to do this part quickly, without breathing very deeply - the smell is quite strong. Then stir in the apple cider vinegar and finally cover with plastic wrap. Allow it to rest for 24 hours before blending. I stored mine in the oven (turned off!) to keep it safe and to keep the strong smell to a minimum. It will also appear watery, but it will thicken up once blended.

The next day, pour the mustard into a blender and liquefy for 1 min. Store in mason jars in the refrigerator until needed.

~Yields four 8 oz mason jars.

~Adapted from Choosy Beggars.

Pretzel Dough
Printable Recipe

2 1/2 cups stone ground whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups water
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, with The Mother

In a large bowl, add all three ingredients and stir well to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and store on the counter at room temperature for 12 - 24 hours before baking.

1/2 cup warm water
2 tsp turbinado
1/2 package of yeast

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tbsp olive oil

In a mixing bowl, add the warm water (100 - 110*F) with the sugar and yeast, stirring gently. Allow it to rest for 10 min. It should become foamy which lets you know the yeast is active.

Next, add in the soaked dough and begin to mix on medium speed. Slowly add the 1 cup all-purpose flour until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Allow the dough to knead for a total of 3 min. You may need to add more flour in half-cup increments since it should only be slightly tacky, which will depend on how warm and humid your kitchen is.

Flour a smooth surface and turn the dough out of the bowl. Knead it into a smooth ball. Add the olive oil to a large bowl, add the dough, and turn it around to coat all sides. Allow the dough to rest for 1 hour.

It will double in size.

Turn the dough out onto a smooth, floured surface and knead a few times to condense the dough. Cut it into six equal pieces and smooth them into balls. Allow them to rest for 1o min.

8 cups water
1/4 cup baking soda
2 tbsp turbinado

1 small egg + 1 tbsp water
2 tbsp coarse seas salt
6 tbsp German Sweet Mustard
2 bratwurst sausages, cooked & thinly sliced
3 tbsp sauerkraut

Preheat the oven to 450*F. In a large pot over high heat, add the water and turbinado and bring to a low boil. Then add the baking soda.

Return to the dough and flatten into 6 inch discs. Add them one at a time to the water for 45 - 60 seconds. Remove with a large slotted spoon or spider and drain for a moment on a tea towel, then flip onto a large baking sheet topped with parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water, then brush onto the tops of the pretzel dough. Add coarse sea salt to the edges.

Bake in the oven for 18 min.

Remove from the oven and top each with 1 tbsp of the German Sweet Mustard and 8 thin slices each of cooked bratwurst. (To cook the bratwurst, heat the oven to 350*F and cook for 30 min, flipping the bratwurst once so it cooks evenly on both sides.) Cook the pretzel pizza for 5 min. Top with approximately 1 tsp each of sauerkraut and serve immediately.

~Yields 6 servings.

~Adapted from Smitten Kitchen's Mini Pretzel Recipe.


  1. 13 cities in 8 days- no kidding you guys were exhausted! Great job with the pretzel- pizza:)

  2. Okay. Where do I start? The pretzel base is crazy great. And it gets better from there. Not to mention the fun to be had experiencing your BFs 30th. I'm sold. GREG

  3. Ah, I was wondering if someone would do a pretzel pizza. Great job!!!

  4. Very clever idea! I wish I could have been there to try it.

  5. This is super cool, lady, great round 5 post

  6. Brie, LOVE it! what a creative idea!

  7. I'm loving all the different crusts that people created for this challenge, and the pretzel crust is definitely one of my absolute faves so far. Besides, anything with mustard and sausage is an automatic yes for me. :)
    Great job! You've got my vote.

  8. Looks so phenomenal. I definitely want to try this one. Best of luck!

  9. That mustard is beautiful. Combined with the pretzel base and toppings, this looks incredible! You've got a vote from me.

  10. Really great idea and a wonderful way to remember your vacation! Good luck :)

  11. This looks super delicious! Good Luck :)

  12. Very different and an entry worthy of consideration. Good luck.

  13. Wow - I am of German decent on my father's side - this is a WINNING recipe - must say you have my VOTE!

  14. I actually experimented with a pretzel base for my entry and then decidedto save it for later. I can say it's very tasty!

  15. 13 cities in 8 days? That is amazing! This is such an original idea! I love it. Best of luck!

  16. Very original...Would love this as a pizza base :)

  17. You've got my vote just on originality. Also as a pretzel, bratwurst and sauerkraut lover; to me, these combination can just do no wrong. Love the story of your trip to Germany too. Good luck!

  18. This is totally amazing. You've won my German-Polish Milwaukee-girl heart.

  19. I've never heard of pretzel pizza but it sounds awesome! I wish i had seen this while voting was still an option. I hope you advanced.