Authentic Philly Soft Pretzels with Fresh Milled Grains

Philly soft pretzels have the unforgettable flavor and texture – recreating a taste from my childhood. These aren’t your typical fluffy pretzels—they’re dense, slightly sweet, salty, and almost chewy. It’s hard to describe, but the memory of their unique texture and taste has stayed with me since childhood.

The Secret Ingredient: Durum Wheat

Based on what I know about Philly-style pretzels and the grains I have on hand, I realized that Durum wheat is essential for this recipe. If you make a lot of pasta, you probably already have Durum in your pantry. However, if you don’t, Khorasan (Kamut) or Emmer can be used as substitutes. These ancient grains add a distinct flavor and texture that are crucial to achieving that authentic Philly pretzel experience.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

This recipe brings back vivid memories of watching Pennsylvania Dutch-style pretzels being made. The dough was thick, heavier, and tougher than your usual bread dough. It wasn’t the kind of dough you could easily play with, but it was perfect for creating those delicious, hearty pretzels.

The Process: Patience and Precision

Kneading the dough was quite an experience. To make things manageable, I divided the soft pretzel dough into four smaller batches and kneaded each one by hand. This approach allowed for better gluten development, ensuring that the pretzels would have the right texture. It takes a bit of time and effort, but the results are worth it.

Bringing It All Together

After allowing the dough to rest and develop, it was time to shape and bake the soft pretzels. The kitchen filled with the nostalgic aroma of baking pretzels, and the first bite took me right back to my childhood. Dense, slightly sweet, salty, and chewy—these pretzels were everything I remembered and more.

Final Thoughts

Recreating these Philly-style pretzels with fresh milled grains was a delightful journey into the past. If you’re a fan of traditional, hearty pretzels, I highly recommend giving this recipe a try. The unique combination of Durum wheat (or its substitutes) and the traditional method of kneading and resting the dough will transport you back to a simpler time when flavors were bold, and every bite was a celebration.

Want to double the batch and get two amazing snacks from the same dough? Try my fresh milled, whole grain crunchy handmade pretzel sticks. They will knock your socks off!

Soft Pretzels – Philly Style

Just Mill It
Authentic Philly style soft preztels with all the health benefits of fresh milled whole grains
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Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Rest Time: 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 16 pretzels
Calories 125 kcal

Ingredients
  

Dough

  • 260 g hard white wheat
  • 260 g durum wheat
  • 300 g water
  • 15 g salt
  • 6 g yeast
  • 6 g sugar
  • 20 g butter
  • 50 g water, boiling

Water Bath

  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 4 tsp baking soda

Egg Wash

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp water

Topping

  • 2 tbsp pretzel or coarse salt

Instructions
 

  • Mill the flour.
  • Make the Yudane by mixing 25 grams of milled flour with 50 grams of boiling water. Mix it quickly into a paste.
  • Add water to your mixing bowl with Yudane and sugar. Give it a swirl, then add salt and yeast.
  • Add remaining flour to the bowl and begin mixing with a danish dough whisk (or by hand if you like). Add in butter, and continue mixing for several minutes by hand.
  • Rest the dough for 30 minutes and knead for a few more minutes until the dough is more pliable and workable.
  • Let the dough rise until doubled.
  • Punch down the dough (we did it the fun way this time).
  • Scale (divide) the dough into 4 parts, and take one section out at a time for shaping. Keep the remaining dough covered with a damp towel.
  • Divide the section into 4, and shape each one into a pretzel.

Simple Shaping

  • Roll out a long log
  • Turn up the ends to make a “U” shape
  • Take the top right end, and turn it down to make the number “6”
  • Cross the other side over to complete the pretzel

Multiple Twist Pretzel Shaping

  • Roll out a long log shape
  • Make a “U” shape by turning up the ends
  • Twist the two ends over each other two or three times. You choose which you like better.
  • Lift the ends up and press them down at the bottom of the loop to form the pretzel.

Proofing/Baking

  • Proof the shaped pretzels for 30 minutes before freezing for 30 minutes.
  • Bring water bath ingredients to a boil, and immerse each pretzel for 1-2 minutes, then place on baking tray lined with parchment.
  • Mix egg wash ingredients together with a fork or a whisk.
  • Brush each pretzel with egg wash using a pastry brush, then sprinkle with coarse sea salt or kosher pretzel salt.
  • 425 degrees F 10-15 minutes until nicely browned.
  • Remove from oven and pan to cool on a wire rack.

Video

Notes

We lowered the hydration and used a very hard wheat (like durum) to get the dense, chewy texture known to Philly Pretzels. For fluffy pretzels, replace the durum with spelt.
If you know how to properly and safely use food grade lye, you can alternatively use that instead of a boiling water baking soda bath.  The mixture is 1 cup of cold water in a glass bowl with 1 tsp. 100% food grade sodium hydroxide.  If you don’t know how to safely do this, use baking soda bath instead!  If you make a very strong soda bath, you can just soak the pretzels in it, rather than using a boiling water bath but it’ll be best done on the stove.
As always, if using active dry yeast instead of instant yeast, reserve a small amount of water to prove the yeast, along with a tsp of your sugar.  When adding yeast to the recipe, this proved yeast mixture should be bubbly and added then.

Nutrition

Serving: 65gCalories: 125kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 5gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.4gTrans Fat: 0.04gCholesterol: 13mgSodium: 654mgPotassium: 78mgFiber: 2gSugar: 0.4gVitamin A: 46IUVitamin B1: 0.1mgVitamin B2: 0.05mgVitamin B3: 1mgVitamin B5: 0.2mgVitamin B6: 0.1mgVitamin B12: 0.03µgVitamin C: 0.001mgVitamin D: 0.1µgVitamin E: 0.1mgVitamin K: 0.1µgCalcium: 17mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Soft Pretzels
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Enjoy baking, and savor the taste of nostalgia!

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