Beer and Bretzels (Pretzels)

A cold glass of Swiss beer and a freshly baked bretzel (a.k.a. brezel or pretzel). Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? We enjoyed this pairing over the weekend in Rapperswil at the third annual Craft Bier Festival. My husband is a beer enthusiast, and our trip served as a belated birthday present.

Held in the Rapperswil Castle, the event featured 32 different kinds of beer, along with delicious Swiss bratwurst and bretzel. A typical Swiss street food, you can find bretzels in Brezelkönigs and bäckereien throughout German-speaking Switzerland. However, across the Röstigraben in Suisse-Romande, we see them much less frequently.

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All of us sampled the delicious bretzels at the bier festival, but our 2-year old son did not. We couldn’t be sure they were free of his allergens (milk, egg and almond), and we certainly don’t ever want to take the chance—particularly when traveling. I packed along a separate bag full of allergy-friendly food for our trip, so he never ate anything during our time in Rapperswil that wasn’t prepared or provided by us.

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No Hot Meals in Rapperswil

Before we left for Rapperswil, I emailed a hotel that’s part of a large international chain to inquire about ordering an allergy-friendly meal at their restaurant. My son hasn’t had a hot meal at a restaurant for nearly a year, since we’ve been cautious and hesitant to trust someone else to prepare his food. A large majority of this restaurant’s online menu had items free of his allergens, so I thought it might be a safe option.

While the hotel wrote that its restaurant could prepare a meal free of my son’s allergens, it would be difficult for them to avoid cross-contamination. The one menu item they could safely serve him was french fries. I appreciated the prompt and honest response. It would be challenging for most restaurants, I’m sure, if they aren’t used to preparing allergy-friendly food—particularly if requested to do so during a busy time or without advance notice.

Even though the hotel provided the phone number for the restaurant and said I should contact them directly, I felt like the response did not warrant further investigation. Maybe I should have called to talk with the restaurant, but I was lazy and hoping to find a place that seemed a little more familiar with and willing to accommodate patrons with food allergies. And, I should have contacted more than one restaurant. I will have to try harder next time, especially as it gets closer to winter and an outdoor picnic with homemade sandwiches become less feasible.

For more information, Allergy Eats in the United States has compiled a great list of resources and tips for dining out.

 

Dairy-Free Bretzels

While my son didn’t get to have bretzels at the bier festival, I wanted to make sure he could try a dairy and egg-free version back at home. I’ve always thought homemade pretzels were too time-consuming, but I made them yesterday morning, and they were really quite easy. These will definitely be a new staple recipe in our household. Now I just need to improve my pretzel-shaping technique…

Adapted from Annabelle’s recipe for Riesen-Brezel. Makes 6-8 bretzels.

(dairy/egg/nut-free)

Dough:
1 1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast
4 cups of flour
4 tablespoons dairy-free margarine, softened
2 teaspoons salt
olive oil for greasing

Boiling solution:
4 1/4 cups water
9 tablespoons baking soda

Toppings:
Coarse salt (or sesame, poppy, etc.)

Dough: In a large bowl, mix together water, sugar and yeast. Let stand about 8-10 minutes until it foams. Add flour, margarine and salt and stir together until dough forms. Knead for about 5-10 minutes until the dough become smooth and elastic. Cover and let rise at room temperature for about an hour, until doubled in size.

Boiling: Boil the water and baking soda in a large pan. Cover baking sheet/s with parchment paper and grease them with oil. Divide the dough into 6 to 8 pieces. Pull out long strands and form into pretzels, put onto greased paper.

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Place each pretzel in the boiling water for approximately 30 seconds, remove with a slotted spoon, and place them back on the same greased and paper-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with selected toppings.

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Bake for 12-15 minutes at 225°C/450°F. Best served warm.

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Finding a safe place to eat when traveling with food allergies can be challenging, and the following are resources to try and help make it easier.

  • For Switzerland, you can check out my growing list of allergy-friendly restaurants. If you have other suggestions for Switzerland, please leave a comment below or email me at dairyfreeswitzerland@gmail.com.
  • For the United States, check out AllergyEats, a great online guide to allergy-friendly restaurants, and you can share your own reviews.
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13 thoughts on “Beer and Bretzels (Pretzels)

      • Stephanie says:

        I just tried these today…and my husband changed his personal lunch menu to include more of them! 🙂 I will have to hide the rest for dinner tonight.

        The only change I made was to use half whole-grain flour from our local mill. I just prefer whole-grain bread. It also worked very well.

        I will serve these to some Swiss friends tonight and see what they think!

      • dairyfreeswitzerland says:

        Hi Stephanie! So glad to hear they turned out for you. I’ll have to try adding some whole wheat flour next time. They really are best the day they’re made, so hope you and your friends finish them all tonight! 🙂 Thanks so much, Heddi

  1. Homa says:

    Do you think this would work okay stateside? I ask because I know abroad some flours have different gluten content so I want to be sure to use the right flour type. Maybe bread flour? Or would all purpose be better? They look beautiful!

    • dairyfreeswitzerland says:

      Thanks, Homa! I just used the Swiss version of all-purpose flour. If you happen to try them, please let me know how they turn out, and what, if any, adjustments you made. Today was day #2 for the last pretzel, and they really are best on day #1, and preferably while they’re still hot/warm. 🙂 Hope all is well. -Heddi

  2. Irene Chu says:

    The bretzels look beautiful. I have never made any bretzels or pretzels myself but your results have definitely piqued my interest! Seems like a fun thing to try this fall when the weather is cooler.

    I have tried using Allergy Eats but I found that it didn’t help my family (allergies to milk, peanuts, various tree nuts) all that much. We did finally try an American chain of fast food called Chipotle which has gotten favorable buzz for being good for people with food allergies. However, my kids both developed stomach aches during the meal! (And this was when we were on vacation.) So I understand what you call your “laziness” (I call my response “distrust”) in researching restaurant options!

    Thank! ~Irene

    • dairyfreeswitzerland says:

      Hello Irene, Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I really appreciate you sharing your experiences using AllergyEats and dining out at restaurants, in general. It can be so challenging, and I’m always looking for new advice and ways to approach it. I’ve heard good things about Chipotle too, so I’m sorry to hear you didn’t have a good experience there. We can learn so much from each other, so thanks again for weighing in. -Heddi

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