RECIPE: I decided to try homemade bagels after buying a disappointing packet of bagels from the supermarket over the weekend. When we travelled in Alaska a while back, we fell in love with fresh bagels, but they’re not common in Australia. Yes, I stuffed up and somehow ended up with flat bagels even though the dough rose beautifully, but this is a nice easy recipe that someone (me) could bake, when they really have no skill with anything involving yeast. It’s also nice to be able to cook a bread-equivalent in only two hours.

COMPONENTS: Preparing the dough all went exactly as the recipe said it would. The yeast bubbled up nicely and the dough doubled in size just as it was meant to. When creating the rings, the recipe said to leave a two-inch hole in the middle, so I was expecting it to close up a little, but it didn’t, so some of my bagels have a large hole. I’d seen a trick on TV of spinning the bagel on your finger to get an even hole, and this worked pretty well. I followed all the recommended times, so I’m not sure how you get nice plump bagels like you see in the shops. I suspect I didn’t knead the dough for long enough or vigorously enough.

ASSEMBLY: The dough is sticky, so they stuck to my fingers a bit when I was trying to drop them in the boiling water. I ended up flouring my hands generously so that wouldn’t happen. They transferred easily to the baking tray and baked well.

IMPRESSION: Even though they looked a bit flat and lumpy, my bagels tasted yummy and weren’t dense or dry – way better than the bought ones available in the supermarket. I liked how quick and easy they were to make. Another one I’m going to have to try again to see if I can get it right.

Recipe from Genius Kitchen


Bacon and Onion Roly Poly


RECIPE: I’m part of a wonderful (closed) Facebook foodie group and one of the members posted this recipe, which looked like something my husband would enjoy. This roly poly is a savoury variation on a suet pudding. I couldn’t find suet (!), so substituted Copha (vegetable shortening) based on a recommendation online. I was using up leftover Christmas ham, so substituted that for the bacon, and added mushrooms. I spread about 2 tbs of chutney over the pastry before adding the filling.

COMPONENTS: I’m not sure if I measured it out wrong, but my dough was extremely wet and wouldn’t come together properly, so I added more flour (maybe another half a cup) until the dough was only slightly tacky instead of sticky. Because of all the handling, the dough became smooth when it was supposed to be just combined and rough-looking. This didn’t seem to affect the end result.

ASSEMBLY: Once I got my dough looking close to right, it was easy to roll out and spread it with the chutney and filling. Rolling it was also fine but I wonder whether it would crumble while rolling if it hadn’t been my smoother version? I tucked it in at the ends, and even after baking I had a perfectly smooth finish, with no cracks or leaks. I added an egg wash to get a nice finish on the crust.

IMPRESSION: To stop the filling getting soggy you have to keep it fairly dry. This means that the overall result is on the dry side and it really needs to be eaten with gravy or sauce. It was tasty country style home cooking, but I found it heavy on the bread and light on the flavour. I think I’d rather stick to less dough and more filling. My husband seemed to like it, and it travels well as a work lunch that can be heated up in the microwave.

Recipe from The Pie Patch

Olive oil and herb crackers


RECIPES: A New Year’s Eve party and a long-held desire to cook a savoury cracker led me to try this recipe. Overall the recipe worked well, although there were some gaps in the recipe, which lists three kinds of dried herbs then doesn’t tell you how to use them. I sprinkled them on the crackers at the same time as the salt. I didn’t have kosher salt as it’s hard to find in Australia – sea salt flakes is a suitable substitute.

COMPONENTS: Simple single component.

ASSEMBLY: I forgot to lightly brush the dough balls in olive oil before resting; as a result they became a little dry. Once rested, I rolled out the dough on parchment paper so I could slide the paper straight onto the baking tray. This was much easier than trying to transfer the thin dough to the baking tray by hand. I recommend doing a test batch and see whether you prefer them thinner, thicker, lightly baked or baked a little more. During baking the outside crackers always cooked faster, so after a few trays I began removing the outer ones and returning the central crackers back to the oven for another two minutes.

IMPRESSIONS: This was a nice easy recipe and has made me keen to try more savoury cracker recipes. Baking was the only thing that took some time because I could only fit two trays in the oven at a time. The crackers were tasty, crunchy, and went well with both cheese and dip and were just as good on their own.