The New York Times recently ran an article highlighting the Philadelphia accent. Since I grew up outside of the city, I can attest to it being both entertaining and roughly true. This week, I paid homage to one of my absolute favorite Philly staples - "Sawft Pressles" - or Soft Pretzels to most others. I love these dense and smothered in mustard. I learned from making my own that quick soaking of the unbaked dough in a mixture of baking soda and water gives it that alkaline tingle on the back of your tongue. They are irresistible warm and perfectly acceptable at room temperature or even cold. But maybe that's just me...
What's your favorite hometown staple?
Makes 12 Pretzels
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup baking soda
4 cups hot water
1/4 cup kosher salt, for topping
1.In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in 1 1/4 cup warm water. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
2.In a large bowl, mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt.
3. Make a well in the center; add the oil and yeast mixture. Mix and form into a dough. If the mixture is dry, add one or two more tablespoons of water.
4. Knead the dough until smooth, about 7-8 minutes by hand or 5-7 minutes with a stand-mixer dough attachment.
5. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet. In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in 4 cups hot water; set aside.
7. When risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape. Once all of the dough is shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda-hot water solution and place pretzels on baking sheets. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
8. Bake in preheated oven until browned, about 8-10 minutes until golden brown.