Avocado Oatmeal Scones

Most all muffin, scone and cake recipes will work just as well using mashed avocado as a substitute for butter. When they are pureed, avocados take on the texture of softened butter, which makes them easy to incorporate into the batter.

It’s hard not to love using avocados since they are the ‘good kind of fat’. To work out how much avocado you need in a recipe, simply halve the amount of butter  that is called for in the recipe. The calorie difference is huge. For example, 250 grams of butter contains 1750 calories (or more), where as 125 grams of avocado ‘butter’ only adds 200 calories.

Avocados have a mild, fresh, slightly sweet flavor which allows them to pair well with other ingredients. The combination of avocado, oatmeal, cinnamon, dates & walnuts give these scones a unique flavor that gets only better after a day or two.

A while back I noticed that you can buy frozen avocado chunks at the grocery store. They come in a 400 gram bag. What a great idea instead of having to buy them and wait until they ripen. Ready when you need them!

Avocado Oatmeal Scones
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Servings
40
Servings
40
Avocado Oatmeal Scones
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Servings
40
Servings
40
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine oatmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon & salt. In a large bowl, cream together oil, avocado & brown sugar; stir in yogurt & eggs. Add oat mixture to avocado mixture & stir until combine. Fold in dates & walnuts.
  3. Using a scoop, transfer the mixture onto lined baking sheet, spacing scones 2 inches apart. Bake 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
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Christmas Pate’

Christmas gatherings would not be complete without pate’. For many people, pate’ brings to mind a fancy goose liver-based hors d’ oeuvre spread — but not all pate’ is made from liver!

While traditionally served baked in a crust, today pate’ simply describes a wide variety of smooth blends of meats, poultry, seafood, vegetables, dairy products, liquors like sherry or cognac with herbs and spices. 

Pates’ can be smooth and creamy (mousse) or firm and chunkier (country style). Mousses spread effortlessly on crackers or bread while country style varieties can be sliced or cubed for appetizers or sandwiches.  Equally flavorful hot or cold, pates’ are best served at room temperature.

Recipes are not always extravagant and widely vary from the humble appetizer prepared at home to one of the most expensive dishes served in world renowned restaurants.

There are no rigid rules for cooking or serving pate’.  Nearly any flavor profile that appeals to you can be made into one. Today I wanted to feature a couple of very simple but tasty pates’ you might enjoy to try somewhere throughout the Christmas season.

Pistachio & Turkey Pate' / Walnut & Wild Mushroom Pate'
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Servings
20
Servings
20
Pistachio & Turkey Pate' / Walnut & Wild Mushroom Pate'
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Servings
20
Servings
20
Ingredients
Pistachio & Turkey Pate'
Walnut & Wild Mushroom Pate'
Servings:
Instructions
Pistachio & Turkey Pate'
  1. Line a small bowl with plastic wrap.
  2. In a food processor, combine turkey, onions, sour cream & mustard; process until mixture is well blended & smooth. Add relish; process about 30 seconds or until JUST combined. Spoon into lined bowl; cover with plastic wrap & press gently. Refrigerate 1-2 hours to blend flavors.
  3. Unmold onto serving; remove plastic wrap. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios; gently press onto plate. Serve with a variety of crackers. Yield: 2 1/2 cups.
Walnut & Wild Mushroom Pate'
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast for 10 minutes, or until fragrant & lightly browned.
  2. In a large skillet, saute shallots in butter over medium heat until translucent.; add chopped mushrooms, garlic, parsley, thyme, salt & pepper. Cook, stirring often, until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  3. Process toasted walnuts & olive oil in food processor until mixture forms a thick paste. Spoon in the cooked mushroom mixture; process to desired texture. Pack mixture into a well oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap & refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. Serve on baguette slices or crackers of your choice. Yield: 20 servings
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Hazelnut & Dried Cranberry Bites with Orange Coulis

Creativity and imagination is part of the fun of baking from scratch. The pairing of flavors been going on ever since people put food to mouth, but the science of it has now become big business.

As a rule of thumb, desserts usually have one or two predominate flavors, but some may have small amounts of additional flavor elements to help support the main flavor combination.

I have always loved the sweet, nutty flavor of hazelnuts especially in baking. The other day I was thinking about a square my mother used to make at Christmas. It had a very simple ‘shortbread’ base that was neither too sweet or buttery. My next thought was to pair hazelnuts, dried cranberries and glazed citrus peel to form the top layer. To add a little pizzazz, I baked them individually in different shaped tartlet pans. 

I was real curious to see what Brion would think of these little ‘bites’. After tasting one, he felt they had good flavor but were a little dry. My solution to this was to make an orange coulis sauce to serve with them.

There’s something about the citrus notes of orange with the tarty sweetness of cranberries that makes for an aromatic amorous marriage of flavors. The end result produced a great tasting Christmas dessert!

Hazelnut & Dried Cranberry Bites with Orange Coulis
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Servings
24
Servings
24
Hazelnut & Dried Cranberry Bites with Orange Coulis
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Servings
24
Servings
24
Ingredients
Shortbread Crust
Filling
Orange Coulis
Servings:
Instructions
Shortbread Crust
  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt & orange zest. Add butter, mix until well combined. Divide shortcrust among 24 tartlet pans. Evenly press pastry on bottom & up the sides of each. Set aside.
Filling
  1. In a large bowl, beat eggs with sugar, flour, extract, corn syrup & melted butter. Fold in chopped hazelnuts, cranberries & citrus peel.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Place tartlet pan on a foil lined baking sheet. Carefully fill tartlet pans (should be enough for 24). Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from oven & cool on a wire rack.
Orange Coulis
  1. Peel orange in a circular fashion, being careful not to go to thick & getting the pith. Cut in slivers. Juice the orange, straining into a small saucepan. Heat water, orange juice & sugar, bring to a boil. Add slivers of orange peel; simmer about 15 minutes until peel is cooked.
  2. When ready to serve, make a design with some coulis on dessert plates, place tartlets on top. Decorate with a bit candied orange rind!
Recipe Notes
  • If you don't care for the orange coulis, try serving these little bites with a bit of Grand Marnier flavored whipped cream OR some white "Old English" cheddar.
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Pumpkin Cranberry Spice Roulade

Thought of by some as old fashioned or outdated, the ‘Roulade’ cake may have been around a long time, but done right  they are moist and deliciously nostalgic.

Sweet dessert roulades are based on a whisked egg mixture and contain very little or no flour. They bake faster than most cakes and are finished with any filling you choose, from simple to elegant.

Pumpkin Roulades bring the comfort and tradition of a pumpkin pie. This particular one that I have featured in today’s blog, brings together three great flavors — pumpkin, cranberry and cream cheese.

It comes together quickly, keeps well, travels well making it perfect to take along to Thanksgiving or Christmas gatherings.

 

Pumpkin Cranberry Spice Roll
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Servings
5-6
Servings
5-6
Pumpkin Cranberry Spice Roll
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Servings
5-6
Servings
5-6
Ingredients
Pumpkin Spice Cake
Cranberry Jam
Cream Cheese Filling/Topping
Servings:
Instructions
Cranberry Jam
  1. In a small saucepan, bring sugar, salt & water to a boil. Add cranberries, reduce heat & simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly then process for a few seconds in a food processor. Add orange zest; stir & set aside to cool completely.
Pumpkin Spice Roll
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a 15 x 10-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices & salt. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat eggs, vanilla & sugar until mixture is pale yellow & fluffy. Add pumpkin puree & mix to combine. Fold in the dry ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, spread the cake batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake for about 10-13 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched & tests done in the middle.
  3. While cake is baking, make CREAM CHEESE FILLING. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter & vanilla until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Remove cake immediately from the oven; invert onto a clean tea towel that has been lightly sprinkled with powdered sugar. Remove parchment paper & carefully roll cake in jelly roll fashion in tea towel.
  5. When cake has cooled completely, carefully unroll & spread with a layer of cranberry jam. Next top with a layer of cream cheese filling. Carefully re-roll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap & refrigerate at least one hour or overnight.
  6. Decorate with remaining cream cheese topping & cranberries (I saved a few whole ones from the cranberry jam). Add a few 'kiwi' leaves & you got it!
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Sour Cream Oatmeal Cookies

Sour cream is often thought of as topping for potatoes or an addition to sauces. Due to its creamy texture, sour cream can be added to a variety of baked goods and recipes in order to yield moister results. The use of sour cream has been associated with the cooking traditions of Eastern Europe, Germany, Ukraine and Russia since the first half of the 20th century. Originally made by allowing cream to sour naturally, today’s commercial version can contain the addition of lactic acid, gelatin or guar gum.

Probably one of the first recipes I ever used sour cream in was coffeecake. I just couldn’t believe how tender and moist it was and the heavenly smell when it came out of the oven. Looking through my mother’s recipe files, I see there were many recipes that contained sour cream that she had used.

I saw this recipe on a site called love2cooksweets.ca  It was posted back in 2010. Nothing fancy but makes a wonderful sour cream oatmeal cookie. These can be filed under ‘comfort food’ I’m sure.

Sour Cream Oatmeal Cookies
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Servings
24
Servings
24
Sour Cream Oatmeal Cookies
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Servings
24
Servings
24
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda & salt. In a medium bowl, cream butter with sugars; beat in egg & vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with sour cream. Stir in raisins & oats.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Scoop dough onto cookie sheet a few inches apart. Bake 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool on pan about 30 seconds then remove to wire racks.
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Honey Butter Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

With tomorrow being Thanksgiving Day, it seems like baking some special little dinner rolls for the occasion would be in order.

Bread making has always been a carefully protected symbol of civilization. The Greeks would let only priests make bread — they reasoned that dealing with the ‘staff of life’ was the business of those trained in religious matters. The Romans, a practical-minded people, turned bread baking over to the Civil Service and enforced rigid sanitary regulations. In any case, it has always been an integral  part of history.

Pan or dinner rolls, a name given to small pieces of dough, shaped and baked in a pan with their sides touching. This prevents them from flattening out, instead springing upwards.

At our house we love pan buns. For some strange reason, both of us enjoy baked goods when they are very lightly baked rather than dark and crispy. Pan buns usually fit that description.

These PUMPKIN DINNER ROLLS  check all the boxes. For Thanksgiving, they’re just a little bit more special as well as being a suitable accompaniment for soups and stews during the fall and winter months. If you like pumpkin, I think you will enjoy them.

Honey Butter Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
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Servings
10 rolls
Servings
10 rolls
Honey Butter Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
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Servings
10 rolls
Servings
10 rolls
Ingredients
Dough
Honey Butter
Servings: rolls
Instructions
  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat milk & butter about 45 seconds. Whisk until butter has melted smoothly into the milk; add egg, pumpkin puree & whisk again to combine. Heat again about 15 seconds to warm total mixture. In a large mixing bowl, add remaining dough ingredients along with pumpkin/milk mixture.
  2. Combine & knead dough on a lightly floured surface 5-8 minutes, until smooth & elastic. Grease bowl lightly, place dough in bowl & turn to grease all sides of dough ball. Cover with plastic wrap & allow to rise in a draft-free place until dough has doubled in bulk.
  3. Spray work surface with baking spray, punch dough down & turn onto surface. Divide dough into 10 equal portions; roll each into a ball. Place dough balls into a sprayed, 9 x 9-inch square pan; cover with plastic wrap & place in a draft-free area until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a small bowl, melt butter & add honey; stir to combine. Before baking, generously brush the rolls with honey butter; reserving any extra to brush on after baking.
  5. Bake 15-17 minutes or until puffed & golden. After removing from oven, brush with any remaining honey butter & allow to cool slightly before serving.
Recipe Notes
  • For some extra 'butter' to serve with rolls, whisk together equal parts softened butter & honey until fluffy.
  • MAKE AHEAD OPTION:   Once you have the rolls in the baking pan, cover with foil & place in refrigerator overnight. When ready to bake, bring the rolls to room temperature & allow to rise about 45 minutes before baking.
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Potato Cinnamon Rolls

When cinnamon, sugar and butter are mixed together, the result is something many people all over the world find irresistible.

The first cinnamon roll was created in Sweden, around the 1920’s. After World War I, several goods such as sugar, eggs and butter, which had been heavily restricted, eventually returned to the grocery shelves. The spice trade from Southeast Asia also led to the invention of the roll. Cinnamon was not grown locally in the European countries, hence the spice trade from Sri Lanka led to the development of cinnamon use in the European countries.  The influences of German baking techniques combine with Swedish and Danish ingredients can clearly be seen in the making of the cinnamon roll.

In Sweden, October 4th is ‘Kanelbulle’ day or national ‘Cinnamon Roll Day’. This holiday was originally created by the country’s Home Baking Council in 1999 to commemorate their 40th anniversary. Swedish cinnamon rolls are not as sweet and heavy as they are in North America. The dough contains a hint of cardamom spice and they are generally baked in muffin papers to make a more delicate treat.

Our family definitely enjoyed a lot of irresistible cinnamon rolls. As is everything that becomes the ‘norm’, you take it for granted until you no longer have it and it becomes a ‘taste of a memory’.

I recall my mother also making ‘potato’ doughnuts. The mashed potato seems to really add to the flavor of a yeast dough. In keeping with this Swedish ‘holiday’, I am making  POTATO CINNAMON ROLLS  or ‘Twists’.

 

Potato Cinnamon Rolls (Twists)
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Servings
12 twists
Servings
12 twists
Potato Cinnamon Rolls (Twists)
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Servings
12 twists
Servings
12 twists
Ingredients
Dough
Cinnamon/Sugar Mix
Glaze
Servings: twists
Instructions
Dough
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine lukewarm milk with yeast; whisk until yeast is dissolved. Allow to stand about 3 minutes or until foamy. Add warm mashed potato, melted butter, eggs, sugar, cardamom & salt; mix well. Stir in flour, one cup at a time. When dough is completely blended, turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for about 10 minutes, until smooth & elastic.
  2. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning dough to completely coat it with grease. Cover with plastic wrap; allow to rise in a draft-free place until doubled in size. Punch down, turn out on a lightly floured work surface & let rest for about 10 minutes.
Cinnamon/Sugar Mix
  1. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar & cinnamon; set aside.
Assembly
  1. Line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out into a 14 x 14-inch square. Brush with melted butter & evenly sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar mixture. Fold dough into thirds like a business letter, then roll again into a 14 x 8-inch rectangle. Facing the long edge, cut dough into roughly 18 -8-inch strips. Twist each strip several times, slightly stretching it as you do so. Take one end of the twisted strip & coil the dough around your hand twice, then over the top. Coil dough again & tuck the loose end in at the bottom.
  2. Arrange on baking sheets. Cover with plastic & allow to rise in a draft-free place, 45-60 minutes or until doubled in size. Place oven rack in middle position & preheat oven to 350 F.
  3. If you prefer, you can brush rolls with egg wash & sprinkle with pearl sugar or chopped almonds instead of using cream cheese glaze. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. While cinnamon rolls are baking, make glaze (if you are using it). With a mixer, beat together cream cheese & butter until light & fluffy. Blend in powdered sugar & vanilla. Add enough milk to achieve a drizzle-like consistency. Drizzle on rolls while still warm.
Recipe Notes
  • Freezer Instructions:   Form cinnamon rolls into twisted shape & place several inches apart on baking sheet to freeze rolls individually. Once frozen, transfer to a resealable plastic freezer bag. When ready to bake, place on a lightly greased baking sheet & allow to come to room temperature before baking.
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Classic Gingerbread Cake

Gingerbread (cake) is the perfect sweet/spicy dessert for fall and winter, flavored by a ‘strange lumpy little root’. I recall my mother baking gingerbread cake for our supper dessert. She would serve it warm with farm fresh whipped cream. For lack of a better expression, ‘it was to die for’. Strangely enough, I was never fond of molasses but certainly enjoyed that warm gingerbread cake!?

Gingerbread has been baked in Europe for centuries. In some places it was soft, delicately spiced cake, in others, a crisp, flat cookie. Then in other places, warm, thick, dark squares of bread served with lemon sauce or whipped cream.

At first, gingerbread was made with breadcrumbs and sweetened with honey, but as it made its way throughout the world it has been adapted to meet the taste of different cultures. In North America, along with the ground ginger we usually like to add cinnamon, and cloves. Molasses is usually labeled as ‘sulphured’ or ‘unsulphured’ depending on whether sulphur was used in the processing. The unsulphured molasses is lighter in color and tends to have a nicer flavor.

Brion does not remember ever eating gingerbread cake?? I’m going to try to bring back the taste of a memory  with this classic little cake and see what he thinks.

Classic Gingerbread Cake
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Applesauce is such a great addition in that it adds to the cake moistness.
Servings
9-12
Servings
9-12
Classic Gingerbread Cake
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Applesauce is such a great addition in that it adds to the cake moistness.
Servings
9-12
Servings
9-12
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9-inch square baking dish with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together sugar & butter until lightened in color & fluffy. Beat in egg, molasses, applesauce & hot water until fully combined.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger & cloves. Whisk into wet ingredients, mixing ONLY until blended.
  4. Bake for 30-35 minutes until cake springs back when touched or a knife inserted comes our clean.
Recipe Notes
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Harvest Pie / Tarts

The name of this pie definitely conjures up a cornucopia  of fall flavors. The idea of combining fruit and vegetables has forever appealed to me.

I have always had a love for zucchini as far back as I can remember. Even though it is served as a vegetable, its technically a fruit because it comes from a flower. It has a golden blossom that grows under the leaves.

A member of the gourd family, zucchini is an easy to grow, summer squash, native to Central America and Mexico. Zucchini became quite popular after the 1940’s with the interest in Italian cookery.

In 1992, I came across a recipe in a little ‘Pillsbury Classic Cookbook’ for HARVEST PIE.  It had a great combination of apples, zucchini, carrots and spices. If you like these ingredients, this ‘classic’ will become a favorite fall ‘go to’ dessert recipe for you.

Harvest Pie
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Harvest Pie
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a 9-inch DEEP pie with pastry.
  2. In a large bowl, combine apples, zucchini, carrots, nuts & flour; toss to coat.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat brown sugar & margarine until well blended. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, lemon juice, vanilla, orange zest & 2 eggs; blend well. Add to apple mixture; mix well.
  4. Spoon filling into pie crust-lined pan. Top with second crust & flute; slit crust in several places. In a small bowl, blend egg & water; brush over top crust. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cover pie loosely with foil during the last 15 minutes of baking to prevent excessive browning.
  5. Serve with whipped cream if desired.
Recipe Notes
  • Oven temperatures often vary, so if you prefer, bake pie at a bit lower temperature.
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Bagels

Its always the story behind the food — not just the bit that we hold in our hands or put in our mouths that makes it so much more than just something to eat.

The origin of the bagel is still an issue for debate. Most food historians have come to the conclusion that the bagel is of Jewish origin. Apparently originating in South Germany, migrating to Poland and then to North America. This boiled and baked roll with a hole, has endured through the centuries not only because of its heroic legend. It also had the advantage of lasting longer than freshly baked bread due to the boiling process giving it an outer sheen and crunchy protective crust.

In the early 1950’s, Family Circle included a recipe for bagels. The copy read: ‘Stumped for Hors d’oeuvers Ideas? Split these tender little triumphs in halves and then quarters. Spread with sweet butter and place a small slice of smoked salmon on each. For variations, spread with cream cheese, anchovies or red caviar.

The morning combination of bagel, cream cheese and lox (smoked salmon), rose in popularity thanks to the advertising efforts of Joseph Kraft for Philadelphia Cream Cheese. It soon became an alternative to Eggs Benedict or the other Sunday trilogy of bacon, eggs and toast.

I remember being in California in the late 70’s and tasting a bagel with cream cheese & lox for the first time. The bakery/cafes were very popular little boutique restaurants at that time and  it was there that I acquired the taste for this glorious combination. 

Bagelmania, replaced, to a certain extent, the doughnut shops of the earlier 20th century. Their popularity was largely because they didn’t taste ethnic. To the bread and sandwich loving population, the bagel was simply a craving for innovation, but not different enough to appear ethnic.

In the 1960’s, preservatives helped create bagels that stayed fresh for more than a few hours and engineers created mixers that didn’t tear themselves apart trying to work the dough.

For classic bagels you require two ingredients that most home bakers’ generally don’t have in their pantries. One is high-gluten flour and the other is malt syrup. Both should be obtainable at natural food markets. If you can’t find high-gluten flour, use bread flour, preferably unbleached. Regular all-purpose doesn’t contain enough gluten to make a proper bagel. As far as the barley malt syrup goes, honey or brown sugar are acceptable substitutes.

All that being said, if you are still up for making a few bagels here is a recipe from cdkitchen.com you might like.

 

Homemade Bagels
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Servings
8
Servings
8
Homemade Bagels
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Servings
8
Servings
8
Ingredients
Dough
Water for Boiling Bagels
'Everything' Topping
Servings:
Instructions
Dough
  1. In a large bowl, stir together water, yeast & sugar. Let rise for 5 minutes. With a wooden spoon, stir in oil, malt & 1 cup of flour. Add salt then enough of remaining flour to make a stiff dough.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, knead for 10-12 minutes. Cover with a floured dish towel & allow dough to rest on board for about 15 minutes. Divide dough into 8 sections & form each section into a ball. Push your thumb through the center, creating a hole, (this method prevents the dough ring from separating as there are no seams). Place on a lightly floured surface, cover & let rest 15-20 minutes, rising about halfway & becoming slightly puffy. In a small bowl, mix all topping ingredients together. Set aside.
Water for Boiling Bagels
  1. Fill a large cooking pot 3/4 full with water. Add the malt syrup & salt. Bring water to a boil. Preheat oven to 450 F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. If desired, sprinkle with cornmeal. Set aside.
  2. Line 2 other baking sheets with a kitchen towel, set near stove. Reduce boiling water to a simmer & cook 2 bagels at a time (do not overcrowd pot). Simmer bagels for about 45 seconds on one side, then turn & cook other side for another 45 seconds. Drain bagels on the towel-lined baking sheet.
  3. Carefully place bagels on the parchment-lined baking sheets. Sprinkle bagels with 'everything' topping, leave plain or use a topping of your choice. Place in the hot oven, immediately reduce heat to 425 F., bake about 17-25 minutes. When almost baked, turn bagels over with a pair of tongs. When golden brown remove from oven & cool on a wire rack.
Recipe Notes
  • For a few sweet versions try cinnamon with raisins or use some dried blueberries or cranberries. 
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