Sally’s Baking Addiction: October, 2019 Challenge: Homemade Caramel Apples 🍎

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It’s October, the month of Pumpkin spice 🎃, Halloween 👻 and falling leaves  🍁

It’s also time for another baking challenge from Sally’s Baking Addiction, and she set us the task of making homemade caramel apples.🍏

This turned out to be quite easy, and the best part is this caramel sauce, which is great on EVERYTHING 😋

To make the caramel sauce: First add the heavy cream, light corn syrup, brown sugar, butter and salt in a heavy bottom sauce pan

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Stir over medium high heat until all the components are mixed and the butter is melted

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At this point stop stirring, insert a candy thermometer and heat until 235F. The caramel will bubble up the sides of the pot, using a pastry brush and cold water, brush down the sides of the pot, every so often, to prevent sugar crystals from forming in the sauce.

It can take a bit for the caramel to get to 235F (also known as the soft ball stage) so be patient! Don’t walk away or turn up the heat.

The following images are the progression of the sauce as it made its way to 235F

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It is ready!

While the sauce cooled and thickened, the apples were prepped. For me, this was the hard part😂 Getting those sticks in the apples was a little harder than I thought it would be!

Apples purchased in the store usually have a wax coating which needs to be removed to help the caramel stick to the surface. Even so, after they were washed, scrubbed and dried, there were still slippage issues! I ended up double dipping them in the sauce.

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Cleaned and scrubbed

 

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I finally got the sticks in 🍏🍎🍏

Time to dip!

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This is a pretty messy process, so I made sure to wear one of the aprons sent to me by my blog buddies!!

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Check out their fabulous designs in their online shop, Fashioned by Nature!

 

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This was the end of the challenge, and the apples tasted pretty great. But, I decided to go another step further and dip them in chocolate 🍫

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This was messy but quite tasty😋

Looking forward to the holidays and whatever Sally has in store for us!!!

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Sally’s Baking Addiction: September, 2019 Challenge: Homemade Cheese Bread

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Well, this is different! I usually do not post my baking challenge experience until the last day of the month 😂 But this September is a little special. We are leaving soon for Greece 🇬🇷 ! We won’t be back until the first week in October, so I had to be a little faster with my baking this month!

Fortunately, this was a bread challenge, and aligned well with our family, the cooler weather and the Seahawks home opener🏈

Sally’s version of this homemade cheese bread is extra soft, as it is an enriched dough, made with buttermilk, egg and butter (and lots of cheese🧀).

The first step was to mix warm buttermilk, warm water, sugar and instant yeast.

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This was left for 5 minutes to activate the instant yeast, then 1 cup of bread flour was added, along with the butter, egg and salt. Sally used garlic powder in her recipe but I did not since I was paring this with chicken chili for dinner 😋

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The rest of the bread flour went into the mixing bowl, which was fitted with a dough hook.

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I let the mixer do the work of kneading the dough. I do have to say that this was a wonderful bread dough to work with😊 It was soft and pliable and came together easily!

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I formed it into a ball and placed it in a greased bowl so it could prove. It needed to double in size, which took almost two hours in my cool, Fall kitchen.

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Before proving

 

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Tucked in for the 2 hour rest

The dough was punched down, and rolled into a 9 X 15 inch rectangle

And this is where the cheese come into play 🧀 2 cups total! I chose to use sharp, white cheddar and smoked cheddar (1 cup each).

 

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The cheese was pressed into the rectangle

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This was where the processes gets messy! Starting with the long side, the dough is rolled into a log

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If you have ever made a babka loaf, then you are familiar with this part. I have blogged about this before here. The log is cut, longitudinally and then wrapped around itself.

I needed both my hands for this, so I was not able to take my own pics. But, fortunately Sally had some great shots of this process!

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From Sally’s Baking Addiction Site

Here is how mine looked

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The loaf was placed into a greased 9 X 5 inch loaf pan and left to prove for a second time.

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The loaf was brushed with melted butter and chopped parsley.

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And into a 350F oven for 50 minutes

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Very easy! And, more importantly, delicious 😍

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And it went great with the chicken chili that night!

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Another excellent Sally recipe 👩🏻‍🍳

Sally’s Baking Addiction: June, 2019 Challenge: Angel Food Cake😇

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Yum, Angel food cake 🍰! This is one of my favorites😋

I admit that I have made many angel food cakes in the past. In fact, this time last year, I was working on a gluten free version for a yoga retreat that I was catering. Still, I was excited to bake this one for the June challenge

If you haven’t tried this yet, I definitely encourage you to give Sally’s version a go!. She has a helpful video as well. There are only 6 ingredients needed for this creation.

All the leavening for this cake will come from the whipped egg whites, so you need to start by separating 12 eggs

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It’s very important that no yolk get into the whites, or they will not whip up properly

Set the egg whites aside to come to room temperature, as cold egg whites will not achieve the proper volume for this cake.

 

This cake is exceptionally light, so regular granulated sugar is too heavy for the batter. I used to just buy super fine sugar at the grocery store, but couldn’t find any😳 Sally has that covered however, as she recommends grinding granulated sugar in a food processor. So, I placed 1 and 3/4 cups of granulated sugar in my processor and let it run until the sugar was a fine consistency.

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Check out the sugar “smoke” coming out of the machine 😂

1 cup of the (now) fine sugar was removed and set aside, while 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons of cake flour and 1/4 teaspoon of salt was added to the remaining sugar, and pulsed to combine

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This is now the dry ingredients that will be added to the whipped egg whites

Now it’s time to beat the egg whites. But, before I added the whites to the mixing bowl, I used a trick that we were taught in culinary school. Egg whites are extremely sensitive to fat, meaning if ANY fat is present in the mixing bowl, they will not whip up.

This is why there can be no yolk in the whites to begin with, and why I always use an acid in my mixing bowl.

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take a cut lemon and rub it all over the interior of the mixing bowl. Do not juice the lemon and don’t worry about any pulp that is left in the bowl

 

The lemon does not flavor the whites, but the acid will help the whites to climb the bowl as the air is incorporated. Cream of Tartar is added to stabilize the whites as well.

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start the whites and cream of tartar on slow, until bubbles begin to form

Once the whites begin to take on some volume, add the reserved cup of sugar, slowly!

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Do not over whip! The whites need to be at soft peaks, not stiff! This is not a merengue.

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Continue until the whites form a gentle peak, in the above picture you can see how the whites hold shape but the tip curls over.

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Now that the whites are whipped, the vanilla is added and quickly mixed in. Next the dry ingredients need to be added, in three additions, and folded (carefully) after each addition.

Remember, you don’t want to knock all the air out of the whites!

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1/3 of the dry mix is sifted over the whites, and folded in

After all the dry ingredients are incorporated, it is time to add the batter to the UNGREASED tube pan. If you grease the sides, the batter will not rise up!!!😲

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Into a 325F oven for about 45 minutes and bake until a toothpick comes out clean

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Immediately invert the hot cake and allow it to cool for about 3 hours, this will prevent the light cake from collapsing on itself

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Run a knife around the outside of the pan and the inner tube to release the cake. I also run the knife across the bottom of the pan

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The cake is great as is! However, I like to add a lemon glaze and some fresh berries 😉

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Then we chow down!

 

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Another awesome Sally challenge😇

Next month will be Sally’s 30th Challenge!! I am excited to say that I have participated in all of them so far 🌟 Looking forward to the next one!

 

Sally’s Baking Addiction: May, 2019 Challenge: How To Make Perfect Scones👩🏻‍🍳

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When I saw that Sally had set scone baking as the May challenge, I was both excited and disappointed at the the same time. Excited because I love scones! And so does my family, which means I have baked a lot of scones over the years. I don’t find them to be that difficult, mainly due to all the practice I have had 😂

So I was not expecting this to be much of a challenge. But then I took a closer look at Sally’s recipe. Her method of cutting in the butter (a crucial component to scone baking) was one that I have seen before, but have never tried. More on that later!

The first task was to choose which flavor to make my scones. Sally has quite a large variety from which to select! She has savory recipes as well as the more common, sweet options. We were having house guests this month, so I selected the tried and true, blueberry, which would please all of us for breakfast during their stay.

The first step was to combine the dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar.

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Then I chose to mix the wet ingredients and keep it in the fridge, while I cut in the butter. Keeping everything as cold as possible, for as long as possible is crucial to getting fluffy and light scones. Not an easy job in a hot Tucson kitchen 😆

I mixed the heavy cream, vanilla and egg in a 2 cup measure with a spout. I added another ingredient, not specified by Sally’s recipe: Lemon zest 🍋 I love lemon and blueberries together, so you will see the zest in the picture.

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This was whisked up, and placed in the refrigerator for later.

Now comes the new part, for me anyway. Normally, I will cube the cold butter into smallish pieces and use a pastry cutter to work the small cubes into smaller, pea sized pieces. And, that has always worked well! But Sally, and others that I have seen, will use frozen butter and a box grater. IMG_5800

I admit that this has always struck me as messy and time consuming. And, if you are making more than just 8 scones, it is a lot of butter to deal with! In this recipe, there is only 1/2 cup, or 1 stick. So I decided to give it a go.

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This was added to the dry ingredients and cut into the mix, which did not take long given how small the butter pieces were from the grating process.

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The cold, wet mixture was then added..

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as were the blueberries.

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The batter was stirred until the components came together in a loose ball. This was turned out onto a heavily floured counter, and molded into an 8″ circle. As I mentioned before, this was cut into 8 triangles.

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I put these on a tray and left them overnight in the fridge, as I wanted to bake them off, fresh in the morning, for our guests.

The next morning, the scones were brushed with cream and dusted with course sugar. They were baked at 400F for some amount of time (I forgot to set the timer 😉)

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Until golden brown 😋

 

Then it was time to chow down!

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So, was it really necessary to grate the butter?

These scones were delicious! No doubt about it! But they were just as tasty as recipes where I just cut up the butter into very small cubes. I would say, if there is a small amount of butter needed, then grating would be fine. But for those recipes where you are making more than just 8 or 12 scones, and you like to cube the butter, then go right ahead. That will be my plan moving forward.

Do try Sally’s scone recipes! I love her flavor combos ❤️

 

Sally’s Baking Addiction: April, 2019 Challenge: Soft Dinner Rolls with Honey Butter 🍯😋👩🏻‍🍳

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I was thrilled to see that Sally’s Baking Challenge was to be Soft Dinner Rolls this month😊 Our family is very serious about our bread consumption!! This is the house that gluten built 🌾

I bake bread and rolls so often that I keep a wide varitey of flours in my pantry at all times 😂 Of course, Sally provides an excellent video tutorial to help the “yeast adverse” bakers out there. But, honestly, if you are at all worried about yeasted bread baking, this is a very simple and delicious recipe.

There are only 7 ingredients and the dough comes together rather quickly.

I warmed the milk in the microwave until it reached a temp of 100F. I used 2% as that is what we usually have in the fridge. I whisked in 1 tablespoon of regular sugar and 2 1/4 teaspoons of instant yeast.

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As I mentioned before, I bake a lot of bread, so I purchase my yeast in 1lb bags and store them in the fridge. That way I have yeast whenever I need it and I am familiar with how this yeast will perform in my kitchen, every time I bake. It takes a little of the guess work out of yeasted products.

The warm milk, sugar and yeast were allowed to sit for about 5 minutes to activate.

 

 

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Sally gave us the option to use either all purpose flour or bread flour. I have several types of bread flour that I like to use, but often go with King Arthur, which I did this time as well.

 

 

 

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Once the yeast was active, I added the rest of the sugar, egg, butter, salt and 1 cup of the flour. IMG_4712

This was mixed on medium for about 1 minute, then the rest of the flour was added. After another couple of minutes, a ball formed and pulled away from the sides of the bowl.

The mixer ran for several more minutes until the dough was properly kneaded.

It was time for the first rising. I placed the ball into a lightly greased bowl, and covered it for 2 hours.⏲

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After the dough had doubled in size, it was time to shape the rolls. I greased a 9 X 13 inch pan and divided the dough into 15 equalish portions.

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I weighed the bowl and dough together, then removed the dough and punched it down, and weighed the empty bowl to ascertain the total dough weight.

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The weight of the dough, divided by 15,  gave me the sum of ~ 50 grams per roll.

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These portions were shaped into balls and placed in the pan for their second rise.

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And, about 1 hour later, ⏲ they were ready for the oven

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The rolls were baked at 350F, on the lower shelf in the oven, for ~25 minutes.

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Sally’s last suggestion, which was optional, was to melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 1 tablespoon of honey, and spread over the hot rolls. This is optional, yes, but don’t skip it!! So good 😋

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My husband and son really devoured these quickly! I managed to get one of them before they finished them off, and yes, they were deilcious🌟

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Sally’s Baking Addiction: February, 2019 Challenge: Homemade Chocolate Truffles 🍫🍬 😋

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February, Valentine’s Day, the month to celebrate chocolate 🍫❤️!

Sally’s baking challenge this month was to make chocolate truffles. This was incredibly easy! Only two ingredients, good quality chocolate and heavy cream. 😋 She did give us the option to add a tablespoon of butter for a better consistency and vanilla for flavor, both of which I did add 😉, but you could do this with only the chocolate and cream.

The first step is to finely chop up the chocolate, using a serrated knife works really well. The finer you chop the chocolate the faster the hot cream will melt it.

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I chose semi sweet chocolate to make sure that the truffles would not be too sweet, but you could use dark or milk chocolate. Sally provides some additional instructions for different cocoa content.

I added the tablespoon of butter and, carefully, heated the heavy cream in the microwave. When the cream was warm (but not boiling!), it was poured over the mixture and let to sit for 5 min.

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I then stirred the mixture until it was smooth and shiny.

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The chocolate has to be completely cooled before you can scoop it out and roll it into balls. This was faster when I poured it into a 9 X 9 pan and placed it in the fridge for a couple of hours.

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After it was solid, I scored it into 36 squares, which made smaller truffles than what Sally’s recipe stated.

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I went with 6 toppings: chopped walnuts, unsweetened cocoa power, chocolate sprinkles,   colored sprinkles and gold and white sanding sugar.

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One bit of advice that Sally gave was to scoop the chocolate and allow it to dry out for 20 minutes before rolling them into balls. This helped make a sticky job a little easier.

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They were small, but so tasty 😋

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The inside was soft, and the toppings provided a nice crunchy element. They were fine at room temperature as well, of course, we still have snow on the ground around here😂 so “room temp” may be a tad low!

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This was one of Sally’s fastest recipes! Next time I think I might add a liqueur flavor instead of vanilla. They would be perfect for the holidays 🌟

Sally’s Baking Addiction: January, 2019 Challenge: Homemade Bagels 😋

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Sally’s first challenge of 2019 finds us back into yeasted breads. Homemade bagels, yum 😋 Now, you probably have figured out that I do love to bake bread. However, I am not a huge consumer of bagels. Not sure why. It may have to do with the fact that they are too large and bready for my taste. But if I get to make them, well, then they can be any size I want! And, any flavor 😉

I kept it simple for this go around. I made her basic recipe, but if you want to change it up, Sally did provide a list of her other tasty varieties!

One item that is truly unique to bagel, or pretzel making for that matter, is barley malt syrup. This is what gives bagels their malt like flavor. You don’t have to use this of course, honey and/or brown sugar can be used instead. But, I decided to order it online, just to be authentic.

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I also opted to do this overnight, as I was kinda busy during this time. Actually, allowing the dough to rise slowly, overnight, allows for a delicious flavor development 😄. So, I mixed up the warm water and yeast.

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Once I saw it was activated, I added the barley syrup, bread flour and salt. And that’s it!

The mixer pulled the ingredients together, and then I kneaded it for another few minutes until the dough was firm.

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This went into an oiled bowl, covered and left overnight in the fridge, to slowly rise.

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The next morning, I allowed the dough to come to room temp, about 2 hours in my house that morning.

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Sally’s recipe called for the dough to be divided into 8 “equalish” pieces. But, you know I can’t just do that! 😂 I did weigh the dough so that the bagels would be similar.

I weighed the bowl with the dough, removed the dough, and weighed the empty bowl to find the total weight of the mixture. 838g of dough, divided by 8 came to, a little over, 104g per bagel.

I divided the dough into 8 pieces and checked them on the scale. A little extra dough here, a little less there…. And, each was ready to be shaped.

The first step was to roll it into a tight ball.

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Then flattened, and a 1-2 inch hole punched into the middle

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Seven more later….

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These were covered and allowed to rest while I prepared the water bath.

Yes, water bath! Bagels (and pretzels) need to be boiled prior to baking. This gives them the crusty exterior and helps them color properly.

The boiling water has more barley malt syrup, but you can use honey. Check out the color of the boiling solution with the syrup!

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Once the mixture had boiled, I added the bagles and cooked them 1 minute per side.

It took a little time, but this step is quite important. Once all were boiled, an egg wash was applied. I decided to add some course salt to the top. We had been given a special sea salt from our yoga trip to Mexico last year, so I used that.

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Now they were ready for the oven!

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The bagles were baked at 425F for 20 minutes, until dark brown

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After they cooled, we dug in! I know that most people associate bagels with cream cheese, and that is delicious. But I like mine with goat cheese and honey 🍯

 

A great start to this year of baking challenges 🤩 And this was not hard! It really is simple to make bagels at home, and they freeze well if you have extra😊💕

Give it a try, and let me know what you think! Or better yet, join me in the next challenge😁👩🏻‍🍳