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Gill Bland

Valentine's recipe

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.

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Pretzel recipe

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


For decoration:

  • 50g dark chocolate / salt / chopped nuts / grated cheese / other!


Optional equipment:

  • 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.

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  1. Cover two baking trays with baking parchment in preparation.
  2. Measure the flour, butter, yeast and salt into a large bowl, ideally you’d use a stand mixer with a dough hook.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 how-to video here). I went for part-pretzel, part-heart shape.
  5. Place the pretzel on the baking parchment and leave for 20mins to prove.
  6. In the meantime heat the oven to 220c. Place either a pizza stone or two baking trays in there to heat up.
  7. Measure the water and bicarbonate of soda into a saucepan and heat gentle until simmering and dissolved.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. You can either serve warm, dipped in butter or some kind of fondue or wait and drizzle chocolate and other decorations over them. 


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