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  1. Cinnamon Pretzel Recipe 

    Cinnamon Pretzel Recipe
    500g strong white bread flour
    300 - 320 ml of milk (semi-skimmed or full-fat - whatever you have at hand)
    7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
    25g dark brown muscovado sugar
    50g unsalted butter - melted
    1 teaspoon of salt
    plain flour, for dusting
    oil, for greasing
    3 table spoons of bicarbonate of soda
    Cinnamon and caster sugar mixed together 

    First of all, put the flour, yeast, sugar and 1 tsp salt in a large bowl and mix together to combine. In a large jug, mix together 300ml lukewarm milk and the butter. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the milk, mixing together to form a rough dough.

    Tip out onto a floured work surface and knead for 10-15 mins or until smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled cling film and set aside until doubled in size, about 1hr. You can leave to prove the dough in the fridge over night. It will take about 8 hrs to rise, but it will also improve flavour.

    Once risen, knock out the air bubbles in the dough and divide into 8-12 equal pieces, depending on how large you want your pretzels to be. Using your hands, roll each piece into a long rope about 30 cm long. Make sure you stretch the dough from the middle, otherwise the gluten in the dough will fight you back.

    To form into pretzels, lay the rope in a U-shape with the curve pointing towards you. Take the two ends and cross them over. 
    Take the ends, lift them backwards and press them into the curve of the U-shape. Repeat with the remaining dough.

    Heat oven to 190C/160C fan/gas 5. 

    Carefully place the pretzels on a baking tray lined with parchment and lightly greased with oil. Cover lightly with oiled cling film. Set aside for about 20 mins until puffy (not fully risen like bread dough).

    Fill a heatproof bowl with a boiling water and dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in. One at a time, carefully lift the pretzels and dip them in the soda solution. repeat with all and place them back to the baking tray. 

    Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins or until a golden brown. Once baked, brush them with some more melted butter and dip them into the cinnamon sugar. Allow to cool on a wire rack and serve with your best coffee!  

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    Bread Baking Questions and Answers

    Why does my bread split on the top?

    There could be number of reasons for this:

    Oven too hot

    Your oven could be too hot for the type of bread you are baking

    No bread slashing

    Inadequate or lack of bread slashing. When you slash bread, you direct where you want your bread to 'open up' and it allows the excess air from bread to escape and it won't burst on the top or where you don't want it to.

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    Is liquorice good for you? Well, like many children growing in the UK in the 1970’s, I only thought of liquorice (if I thought of it at all) as something to be used to reach into the bottom of my packet of sherbet dip.

    Once wet, the sherbet stuck to the liquorice, but if you ate the two together, you were liable to run out of liquorice before you ran out of sherbet. At least I did!

    Naturally (probably, on reflection not the best word) I was after the fizzy sensation of the sherbet, and that tingling feeling on my tongue. However, what I often got instead was a coughing fit as the yellow powder hit the back of my mouth. That’s if it didn’t end up all over my school uniform, first.

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    Is marmalade good for you?

    Did you see box office smash Paddington Bear II at the cinema recently, either on your own or with your children? If you did, chances are that you were also reminded of Paddington’s predilection for – yes, marmalade, in sandwiches, no less. While Paddington may eat marmalade at every opportunity, most of us have it for breakfast, usually on toast.  So, is marmalade good for you and what exactly are its health benefits?

    Ah, yes, Marmalade!  Bring it on!

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    My top bread baking tips:

    Based on my 18 years of experience of baking bread for my family, friends and customers, here are my favourite tips on getting each loaf perfect every time.

    How to get your bread perfect every time!

    It’s interesting how people are often very confident when baking cakes and bakes, but when it comes to baking bread people think it’s some sort of black art, where everything needs to be just spot on and all measured perfectly.

    To some extent that’s true, but once you master a few basic things, bread baking is actually a lot more forgiving than making cakes.

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    Marmalade Making Questions & Answers

    Over the years I've made a lot of marmalade batches, to just about call myself an expert. But, expert or not, I still get days, when batch of marmalade just doesn't want to set or the flavour is not quite right.  I know that marmalade making can be really puzzling, so here is a list of frequently asked questions:

    What fruit can I use for marmalade making?

    Any citrus fruit can be used - Seville Oranges, Lemons, Limes, Sweet oranges, Tangerines or Satsumas.

    When can I buy seville oranges?

    Here in the UK, seville oranges is very short. You can only buy seville oranges in January/February, when they are available in large supermarkets or your local fruit stall. It's worth buying few extra ones and freeze them or make several batches.

    500g of seville oranges will make about 5 smaller jam jars, so if you buy few kilos, you have supply for most of the year!