Pumpernickel Everything Bagels

They say that “Necessity is the Mother of Invention”, and I’ve always found that to be true. Lately, the whole pandemic situation has been bringing that whole theory to reality for a lot of people – including for me and my husband.

For his part, my husband has been building. I now have a custom set of planters, designed specifically to be attached to the top railings of our back mini-deck, for easy access from the kitchen. When I injured my foot badly enough to not be able to put ANY weight on it this past weekend, he went out to the garage and came back less than 2 hours later with a homemade knee scooter, from whatever he had on hand.

I’d bastardize a quote from Red Green and say “If you can’t marry handsome, you should marry handy”, but I lucked out and got both 🙂 Anyway!

About a month ago, I kind of put my foot down on certain aspects of grocery shopping. I know I probably seemed a little paranoid at the time, but I saw what was coming – so no more buying easily-bruised (and therefore hard to REALLY wash) fruits out of bins… and no more buying fresh bakery goods displayed out in the open. Sensible, IMHO… but it meant no more of my husband’s favourite bagels for the foreseeable future. (When things go back to normal: Starsky’s in Hamilton. Amazing bagels!)

SO, this morning I finally got around to doing something I’ve had in the back of my head for a while : retooling my basic bagel recipe (Which was the basis for my Jalapeno Cheddar Bagels Recipe, for instance) *completely*, to create a proper pumpernickel recipe for him.

I ended up going a little wild with it, and just completely tricking it out to his taste (and, to a lesser degree… what we have on hand. No whole wheat flour, as a result!). I ended up combining his two favourite bagel types – Pumpernickel, and “Everything”, tweaking the “Everything” topping to better work with Pumpernickel (No poppyseeds, but adding caraway seeds)… having caraway seeds in the bagel, adding a little honey in the boil to get a bit of sweet faux-caramelization on the crust during the bake, AND having cornmeal on the bottom (Totally optional, btw).

He took one bite, said “I love you MORE!”, and declared them to be even better than Starskys. WOW. I was hoping for “Good enough for a quarantine substitute, for now”.

Luckily, these are easy enough to make, that anyone can do it. It doesn’t take any special skills or equipment, just a little bit of patience as the dough rises.

I hope you enjoy these as much as he does!

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Pumpernickel Everything Bagels

Pumpernickel Everything Bagels
These deep, dark pumpernickel bagels are loaded with flavour, and feature caraway seeds both inside and out. Don’t be intimidated by the idea of making bagels, it’s easier than you might think!

Paska – Ukrainian Easter Bread

As I mentioned in my “How to make Pysanky” blog post, my absolute favorite part of Easter – growing up – was Ukrainian Easter bread, called Paska. My grandmother’s neighbor would bake it every year and share it with us. After the egg hunt was over, I knew we’d be going to my grandmothers and this delicious, citrussy bread would be waiting for us. SO GOOD. It’s sweet, and almost like a cross between a cake and a bread, and she used to bake it in coffee cans. It’s traditionally served at Ukrainian Easter celebrations, and I think of it as a breakfast bread.

The memories of that bread were so vivid, when that Pysanky post brought them up, that I decided to get the recipe from my grandmother. It’s always interesting when you’re trying to get a recipe through a game of telephone – especially when the first two passes are through old ladies 🙂 As usual with my family, the recipe came as more of a formula – no instructions… and I adapted it a little (increased the flour, increased the zest, changed lard to butter, ditched the coffee can in favor of decorated style), figured out what the directions would be, and made it last night.

I had originally planned to make this as a blog entry only, pass the finished product off to my husband to share at work, and behave myself. Gluten allergy be damned, I dug into that sucker AS I was taking it out of the oven! Whatever fallout should happen as a result, it’ll be worth it!

I prefer this bread served warm, either fresh out of the oven or microwaved. It’s a very tender, moist bread, so be sure to keep it from drying out. Also, it makes a TON of bread, so be prepared to make some friends VERY happy. There seem to be some wildly different ideas of what Paska entails – many don’t have citrus, some have a frosting – but this is what I was raised on, and it won’t disappoint!

I’m thinking that this will make some AMAZING French toast this weekend. Oh yeah. With a little vanilla, orange zest, and a splash of OJ in the custard… MMMmmm…