The fact that I scaled down soft pretzels to serve two proves my love for the city of Philadelphia. I’ve eaten my way through that city 3 times this year so far. Yet still, there are so many things to eat left on the list! When I land in Philly, I hit the ground running. And by running, I mean run to the nearest pretzel place. Yes, a stall at the airport. There’s only one terminal with hot fresh ones, and yes I will use inter-airport transportation just to get there.
With a hot fresh pretzel in my hands, I take off for Reading Terminal Market. What a gem that place is! My goal in life is to eat at all of the stalls at least once. After I eat either a Philly Cheesesteak or some other concoction with as much cured meat as possible, I sniff my way towards dessert. When Joy said a Termini Bros. cannoli was one of the best things she’s ever eaten, I assumed it was good. I assumed wrong. It was FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC. I don’t have an ounce of Italian heritage, so I’ve never been super crazy for Italian desserts (except tiramisu!). But, man (and woman), the cannolis were breath-taking. I literally stopped in my tracks. The cookie is crisp yet still crumbles perfectly, but not so much that it falls apart with each bite. Take note, Little Italy of San Francisco and St Louis, your cannolis are too crumbly and messy.
Now that I’m home, I still need my pretzel fix. So, I scaled down Alton Brown’s homemade soft pretzel recipe to make two giant pretzels. I suppose you could make 4 smaller pretzels, but then you’d have to share…
You can go about this pretzel business two ways: dunked in butter and rolled in cinnamon sugar (obvi), or dunked in butter and sprinkled with salt. Since this recipe makes two giant pretzels, I say go for both. One of each. One for each hand! Take both paths in life!
- 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons + 3/4 teaspoon sugar, divided use
- 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon warm water (110-degrees F)
- 1 cup flour, plus extra for kneading
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 large egg yolk, beaten
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
For the water bath:
- 10 cups water
- 2/3 cup baking soda
- In a medium bowl, add the yeast and 3/4 teaspoon of sugar. Pour the warm water on top and stir to combine.
- Let the yeast and sugar mixture sit for 5 minutes, or until foamy. If it does not foam, the yeast is dead; start over with fresh yeast.
- Once the yeast is foamy, add the flour, slat and 1 tablespoon of the melted butter.
- Stir until a wet dough comes together. Dump the dough out onto a floured counter, and knead using extra flour as needed. Knead for 10 minutes. To knead properly, push the dough away from you with the heel of your hand, fold the dough over like a book, and repeat. Add flour as needed to keep dough from sticking.
- Add the dough to an oiled bowl and let rise until doubled, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- When the dough has doubled, preheat the oven to 450-degrees F.
- Bring the 10 cups of water and baking soda to a boil.
- Divide the dough into four equal pieces.
- I find pretzel dough rolls best on an un-floured surface. I used a wooden cutting board. You may have to use flour, though.
- Roll each piece of dough into a 12" rope. Pinch two ends together to make 1 24-inch rope. Turn the rope into a U-shape, and then twist is down to form a pretzel shape. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Ensure the ends of the dough is well-sealed to each other before proceeding.*
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Using a large spatula, gently lower a pretzel into the boiling water. Let it cook for 30 seconds before removing it to the baking sheet. Repeat with other pretzel.
- Brush the pretzels with the egg yolk generously.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, until nicely golden brown.
- When the pretzels are warm, dunk them in the remaining 3 tablespoons of melted butter. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top. If you're making savory pretzels, omit the sugar and cinnamon and use pretzel salt instead.
*One time I didn't ensure the two ends were twisted together and when I dropped it in the boiling water, it unraveled. No worries if it does that, just slice it up and bake pretzel bites. They'll still taste delicious.