Philadelphia Soft Pretzels {recipe}

I have been on a huge pretzel kick for the last few months. Pretzels are not something that's readily available in Southern California, my grocery store sells one brand of pretzels. One. From a major snack company. There's no Snyder's of Hanover out here. And I spent so much time lamenting the lack of pretzels that my sister sent me a case of Unique Pretzels straight out of the Pennsylvania Dutch countryside. Yum!

But then I got thinking about soft pretzels and how delicious they are. A good, buttery, soft pretzel. When I worked in Philadelphia pretzels were a regular thing. A print vendor would show up at our IKEA office with a huge bag of soft pretzels and a vat of mustard, not bagels and cream cheese or boring old donuts. Hot, fresh, soft pretzels. I kept talking about them and I even got my husband to dream back to his Pennsylvania days where he remembers snacking on soft pretzels on a hot summer afternoon at the swimming pool. That was it, I had to find a recipe and make them. Then on a quiet Saturday morning, this recipe from KH Photography pops into my RSS reader. 

I got right to work!

1½ cups cool water
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt
2¼ tsp. instant yeast
22 oz. all-purpose flour (about 4½ cups)
4 tbsp. unsalted butter melted, cooled to about room temperature
olive oil, for greasing the bowl

For finishing:
cooking spray
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tbsp. water
pretzel (or kosher) salt

For the dough, in a small bowl combine the water and yeast and let rest for about a minute. Add sugar and salt to the yeast mix. In a large bowl combine flour, melted butter and yeast mixture. Knead mixture for about 5 minutes. You could also do this in a stand mixer fitted first with a paddle attachment to combine and then secondly with a dough hook on medium speed. Transfer the dough to a large bowl lightly greased with olive oil, turning the dough once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place, about 90 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Preheat the oven to 450° F.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Bring the water and baking soda to a boil in a large saucepan or stockpot. In the meantime, divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll a segment out into a 24-inch long rope. 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 parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 or 2 at a time, for 30 seconds. Remove from the water with a slotted skimmer 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 about 5 minutes before serving, if you can keep people away for that long! 

Serve with honey mustard or your favorite dipping sauce.

The recipe is adapted from here.