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The Heart of Life

The Heart of Life: April 2013

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Honey Oat Bagels with Strawberry Cream Cheese

2013-04-21 16.43.01

Back in the day when I was a senior in college I had a weekly three-hour Friday morning class in the library.  At the halfway mark we had a fifteen minute break, and my child welfare peeps and I almost always took this opportunity to go get a bagel from the library café.  I usually got some sort of oat bagel with strawberry cream cheese.  That bagel almost made me look forward to going to that class.  It was so good.  After I graduated, one of the things I really missed about being on campus was the bagels.  Oh, how I missed the bagels.  And the strawberry cream cheese!  I would have eaten that cream cheese without the bagel.

Then I found a recipe on Pinterest for homemade plain bagels.  Whaaaaaat?  You can make bagels?  It had never occurred to me.  Turns out it’s not too different from baking bread.  It’s more time consuming, but it’s not hard.  Granted, it takes a little practice for them to look nice, but even the ugly ones are tasty.  Few baked goods compare to a fresh, hot bagel.

But lately I’ve been wanting to try making a bagel a little more interesting than the plain ones I’ve always made.  Specifically, an oaty one.  I have a thing for oaty breads/bagels.  I’ve made a honey oat bread from Bakingdom that is delicious, and I had a sneaking suspicion it would work as a bagel recipe with a few modifications.  And oh boy, was I correct.

Honey Oat Bagels

(makes 8 bagels)

  • 3 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup oats (I used old fashioned—I’m not sure how quick oats would respond to the boiling part)
  • 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk (I use powdered milk with the appropriate amount of water)
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • Extra oats for sprinkling

In a stand mixer combine the flour, oats, yeast, and salt. 

Put the milk and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave a minute or so—you want the milk only warm enough to melt the butter.  When the butter is melted add the water and honey, then stir to combine. 

Slowly add the milk mixture to the flour mixture as the stand mixer mixes with the dough hook.  Once the dough comes together, knead for about five minutes.  Add a little extra water (one Tbs at a time) if the dough is too dry or a little extra flour (one Tbs at a time) if it’s too sticky.

Divide the dough equally into eight balls, place on a greased cookie sheet, then cover with a clean towel.  Let rise in a warm place for 1/2 hour to 1 hour.

With your hands, roll each ball into a snake-like shape until it’s long enough to loop around your hand with some overlap (about an inch).  With the dough still around your hand and the overlap at your palm, roll the overlap back and forth between your palms until the ends are fused together.  Voila!  Bagel shape!  Place the bagels on a greased cookie sheet and cover.  Let rise in a warm place for 1/2 hour to 1 hour until the bagels are nice and puffy.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and bring a pot of water to a boil.  You are going to boil the bagels before baking them.  Sounds weird, but that’s what you do.  After all, a bagel that hasn’t been boiled is just a roll.  Boil the bagels one or two at a time (depending how big your pot is) for one minute on each side.  Place the newly boiled bagel on a plate and sprinkle oats on it.  The oats will stick right to it.  Allow to sit on the plate for about a minute before transferring to a greased cookie sheet (so as to avoid puddles on the cookie sheet).  I always end up baking the bagels on two separate cookie sheets (four on each sheet) since all eight won’t fit on one cookie sheet.

Bake the bagels for about 10 minutes, then flip each bagel and bake for another 10 minutes.  I check mine after 8 minutes on each side since my past two ovens have been kind of crappy and tend to bake a little on the hot side.  The bottoms will be nice and golden after the first ten minutes, then the rest of the bagel will golden up in the second ten minutes.

They are so amazing warm.  I try to let them cool a bit before eating one, but usually end up lasting only a minute or two and burn my fingers.  It’s a small price to pay.

And then there’s the strawberry cream cheese.  Now, Philadelphia makes some pretty acceptable strawberry cream cheese, but you can make your own!  I know!  I didn’t know that was possible either!  It’s delicious.  Right up there with the strawberry cream cheese of my college days.  And it’s pretty quick and easy.  You can find the original recipe here, but she links to a big recipe of strawberry syrup and then has a smaller version that still makes too much, so I reduced it to coincide perfectly with one package of cream cheese.

Strawberry Cream Cheese

  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped strawberries (fresh or frozen) (it’s fastest to use a food processor, but you can do it by hand too)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 tsp cornstarch
  • dash cinnamon
  • 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened

Combine the strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon in a small saucepan and heat on medium until boiling.  There won’t be much liquid at first, but the heat releases a surprising amount of liquid from the strawberries, so have no fear when it seems a little dry in the beginning.  Boil for about two minutes—the sauce will have thickened a bit.

Allow the strawberry sauce to cool a bit, then combine it with the cream cheese using a hand mixer or stand mixer until it’s uniformly pink and smooth.  Refrigerate leftovers.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Because it’s April

It’s been April for a while now, but there’s a couple cool things about this month.

For one, we found out last week we’re having a baby boy!  I mean, we knew all along that he is a baby, but the boy part is news.  It feels so good to call him “him” as opposed to saying “he or she,” “it,” or “the baby.”  It was fun to watch him move around and check that all his limbs are there and in the right places.  I couldn’t get a good look at his fingers and toes, so hopefully they’re all there.  My husband has only eight toes (four on each foot), so there’s a legitimate chance my little buddy has missing digits.  Toes aren’t a big deal, but fingers are a little more concerning.  A nice bow hold is hard with normal fingers!  But in all seriousness, it’s a relief that everything is looking normal so far.

Another cool thing about April is that it’s Child Abuse Prevention Month.  There are a bunch of PCA pinwheels outside a building I drive by frequently and seeing them makes me miss my old job in child abuse prevention.

Last year I was fairly thorough in talking about abuse and neglect, so I just wanted to link you up to some of those posts in honor of April.  First I explained why prevention is important.  Next I did a general overview of abuse and neglect.  After that I talked about how individuals and communities can help prevent physical abuse and neglect.  Next I went over how to talk to kids about sexual abuse (and why it’s important to do so).  I then shared a cool infographic from Childhelp on child abuse.  Lastly, I gave a quick reminder that although bad things happen, life is still good.

Happy April!