Message Pretzels

Pretzels are delicious and you can shape them into letters and hearts to spell out a message.  This recipe is easy to follow even if you've never made pretzels or bread before and there is no rise time, making it quick.  It's especially fun to make these together.

You will need:

1.  1 Tbs. of dry yeast

2.  1 1/2 cup of warm water

3.  Thermometer (optional but helpful)

3.  1 Tbs. sugar

4.  1 tsp. salt

5.  4 c. cups flour
     You can use all white or 3 cups of white and 1 cup of wheat

6.  Butter and coarse salt

7.  A big pot and baking soda

Heart shaped pretzels
Measure the water temperature

Step 1.  Heat the water.

Microwave the water for about 30 seconds and check the temperature.  It should be about 105 degrees.  If you don't have a thermometer this will be very warm but not hot to the touch.  Stir in the yeast and let it sit until the yeast is foamy, about five minutes.

Mixing the bread dough until it is no longer sticky

Step 2.  Prepare the dough.

Put the yeast and water into a mixing bowl.    Start mixing and add the sugar and the salt and three cups of flour.  If you don't have a mixer just stir everything together in a big bowl.  When this is well mixed, add the rest of the flour.  You may need to adjust the amount of flour slightly.  You want to have a ball of dough that is soft but not sticky.  There shouldn't be flour clumps on the outside of the dough and the dough shouldn't stick to the sides of the bowl.  Keep mixing the dough for about five minutes.  If you aren't using a mixer, knead the dough for five minutes.

Shape the dough

Step 3.  Shape the dough.

This is a good time to preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  It is also a good time to put about three quarts of water and a tablespoon of baking soda into a big pot.  Bring it to a boil on the stove while you shape the pretzels.

Divide the dough into eight part.  Roll each part into a long rope.  Shape the rope into letters or hearts or classic pretzels.

Boil the dough

 Step 4.  Boil the pretzels.

Is the water boiling?  Good.  Carefully lower two pretzels at a time into the water.  Let them boil for 30 - 60 seconds.  It is normal for them to twist a bit.  Don't worry.  You can reshape them in the next step.

Add butter and salt and then bake the dough

Step 5.  Salt and bake the pretzels.

Carefully remove the pretzels from the boiling water.   It will be difficult to get the hearts out without breaking them.  Using a spatula and tongs will make it easier.  Put them on a well greased baking sheet.  Butter them while they are still hot.  The butter should melt over them.  Sprinkle on a little bit of coarse salt.   When all the pretzles are ready, bake them at 425 degrees for 10-14 minutes.  They are done when the tops just start to turn golden brown.

The finished pretzels

 Step 6.  Eat the pretzels.  Yum!

Allow them to cool slightly.  Enjoy!

There are several stories about the origin of pretzels.  One charming tale is that a monk started making pretzels to reward children for saying their prayers.  He shaped the dough to resemble arms folded in prayer.  Pretzels can be eaten plain, salted, or even topped with sugar.  They pair well with all sorts of beverages and, besides being delicious, are an easy and mess free snack.

Crafts

These ornaments, made with a cookie cutter and melted peppermints, are unusual, pretty, and delightfully fragrant.

These rustic heart and bird ornaments are amazingly simple and inexpensive. All you need is salt dough and spray paint.

This ornament is beautifully delicate and graceful, and can be filled with potpourri.