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Posted by Gill Bland Tuesday, 9th February 2016
I wanted to steer clear of the normal heart shaped cookies, pink cakes or ‘romantic dinner’ recipes you find around valentine’s day. Instead I have tried to come up with something that is equally useful for someone wanting to give a home-made gift as for someone with a family and wanting a bit of love-filled comfort food.
As with most of my recipes, these can be customised. You could make them ahead for a snack or they could be part of a meal and get dunked in a fondue. I’ve gone for a semi-traditional shape since it looks quite like a heart but you could just as easily write a letter or stick to nice easy pretzel twists.
Makes 4 side-plate sized pretzels
For the pretzels:
- 550g strong white flour
- 60g butter, room temperature and broken into small lumps
- 17g sachet of fast action dried yeast (also known as ‘easy bake yeast’)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp treacle
- 1/2 tbsp dark brown muscovado sugar [This should really be 1 1/2 tbsp of malt syrup, so use that if you happen to have it]
- 310ml warm water
For the wash:
- 120ml water
- 1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
- 50g dark chocolate / salt / chopped nuts / grated cheese / other!
- a pizza stone
- stand mixer with dough hook
Note: I used the treacle and brown sugar in place of malt syrup. You can apparently find barley malt syrup in health food stores but since it’s not something I imagine most people have readily to hand I have used an alternative mixture. You can’t taste the liquorice tones of the treacle so don’t worry if you’re not a fan.
- Cover two baking trays with baking parchment in preparation.
- Measure the flour, butter, yeast and salt into a large bowl, ideally you’d use a stand mixer with a dough hook.
- Mix the sugar and treacle into the warm water, pour into the dry ingredients and mix well until combined. If using a stand mix with a dough hook on slow speed. If you are mixed by hand, flour a work surface and knead for about 10mins until the dough is smooth. It shouldn’t be too sticky so add extra flour if needed.
- Split the dough into quarters. One at a time roll them out into sausage shapes about an inch in diameter and as long as you can get them. Shape into whatever form you desire - a twist, a heart, a letter, or a traditional pretzel shape (you can find a ). I went for part-pretzel, part-heart shape.
- Place the pretzel on the baking parchment and leave for 20mins to prove.
- In the meantime heat the oven to 220c. Place either a pizza stone or two baking trays in there to heat up.
- Measure the water and bicarbonate of soda into a saucepan and heat gentle until simmering and dissolved.
- Just before they are about to go in the oven brush the pretzels with the bicarb’ wash. If you are decorating with salt do that now.
- Move the pretzels (still on the baking parchment) onto the hot trays. if you are using a pizza stone you don’t ned the parchement. Turn the oven down to 200c and bake for 15-20mins. They should go a dark brown and sound hollow underneath. They will puff up a bit. If you want to put grate cheese onto them then do this a couple of minutes before taking them out.
- You can either serve warm, dipped in butter or some kind of fondue or wait and drizzle chocolate and other decorations over them.