Monday, January 4, 2010

A Twisted Start to the Year

I suppose the following recipe violates the general purpose of my blog: It does not feature anything local, seasonal, or even vegetable. File this one under regional nostalgia.

You see, growing up in Philadelphia, soft pretzels are a part of my culture, and they are one of the few foods associated with that city that I actively seek out (along with the occasional tuna hoagie.) They're fun to make at home, and a good recipe to make with kids: Lots of opportunities to play with dough.

Caboodle and I whipped up a batch of these on Sunday, and they gave us the fortitude to shovel out the driveway. If you make some for yourself, remember to eat them warm, preferably with a smear of mustard. (Gulden's Spicy Brown, thank you.)

Philadelphia-style Soft Pretzels
(adapted from The Philadelphia Inquirer)

For the dough:

1 envelope active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water
2 tsp salt
4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour, plus up to 1 cup extra flour
Canola oil, for greasing bowl and baking trays

For the boiling:

4 tsp baking soda
4 cups water

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in one-quarter cup warm water. Stir in remaining water. In a large bowl, combine the salt and four cups of flour. Stir in the yeast water. Add more flour, as needed, to make a stiff dough. Knead dough for 10 minutes or until it feels smooth and elastic. Shape dough into a ball and place into a greased bowl, turning to coat dough. Cover loosely and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Separate dough into 12 pieces. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll each piece into a coil, about 18 inches long and 3/8 inch in diameter, and twist into a pretzel shape. Set shaped pretzels aside, loosely covered, in a warm place.

Dissolve the baking soda in four cups of water and bring to a boil. Drop in the raw pretzels, one at a time, and let boil for one minute or until the pretzel floats. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Transfer the boiled pretzels to a greased baking sheet. Bake for about 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a rack.

Optional: Brush the baked pretzels with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse salt. (Personally, I consider butter a sacrilege. Real pretzels need mustard.)


  1. We are on a breadmaking kick at our house--this will have to be added to our list of recipes to try.

  2. Let me know how the recipe turns out for you. And send along your favorite recipes, as well. Bread-making has a lot of appeal this time of year.