i miss philly soft pretzels


sometimes when it's 2 am and the bars are closing down and you're in south philadelphia where the closest wawa is way down on south street, you realize that because it's after midnight that the pretzel factory on washington is open. and that is one of the best moments you can have. throwing your bikes in a pile up against the wall, grabbing a big bag of 3-for-a-dollar pretzels, and eating them on the curb is the absolute best way to end a night.

i was also lucky enough to work on walnut street, where i could literally run around the corner and grab pretzels from the little shop on sansom. living in ohio i've been going through pretzel withdrawal. mall pretzels just don't cut it. and i couldn't even wait until the next time i got a chance to visit. so i decided to make my own pretzels today.
you will need:
1 packet active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tsp. sugar
a pinch of salt

3 cups flour
2 tbsp. softened butter

1/4 cup baking soda
1 tbsp. sugar

1 egg + 1 tbsp. water

a few pinches coarse sea salt
combine water, sugar, salt, and yeast in a small bowl and stir. let it sit for 5-10 minutes until the mixture is foamy.

combine the flour and butter in a large mixing bowl and stir in the yeast mixture. pour the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. turn the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel. let rise for 1 hour.

cut the dough into twelve pieces and roll into long strands and shape into pretzels. let rise 20 minutes. preheat the oven to 450º F. fill a pot with water and add sugar and baking soda. once the pot is boiling, drop in the pretzels for about a minute each, until puffed and shiny.

i used a potato masher to drop them in, hold them under the water, and skim them out. a spider skimmer or slotted spoon would work just as well. transfer pretzels onto a wire rack to drain.
while the pretzels are draining, mix the egg and 1 tbsp. water  together and brush over the top of the pretzels.

transfer them onto oiled baking sheets and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

bake for 15 minutes at 450º F.

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