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Homemade Strawberry Cereal Bars

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It’s not often that I buy Nutri-grain bars.  We actually really like them (the taste that is) but even though they say “Made with real fruit”, there’s a lot more in them than that- including food dyes!  Recently, we stopped purchasing foods with dyes because of my niece Maddie.  She’s one of those that turns hyperactive when she eats them.  Now we check every label!  

So, what do we always do when my kids like something that I’m not comfortable having in the house?  We make our own!  Which is what we decided for the delicious Nutri-grain bars.  We made our own cereal bars with more natural ingredients, actual fruit, and no food dyes to be found!

Let’s compare our list of ingredients- The commercial version has a few ingredients we don’t like and a whole lot of other ingredients we don’t normally keep in our pantry.  Our filling consisted of pure strawberries, while the commercial brand listed more sugar than strawberry in the filling.

Making your own can be fun to experiment with other filings as well. Stick with the fruit that is in season, or even just use some whole fruit jam as your filling.  Or for dessert, try almond butter and chocolate chips!

OK- So this is what we did.  First I made the dough (full recipe below)

Then,  we rinsed, de-stemmed, and chopped up the strawberries in a food processor until smooth.   I’ve also done this where I break up the strawberries over the stovetop first, over some low heat, and then blend it up. It does get a little smoother, but you may want to leave it chunky. Your choice.

Then, we rolled out the dough, and spread our strawberries down the side of a square piece of dough, and folded over.  We pinched the sides to keep the filling in, and then baked it.

They turned out truly delicious!   The one complaint I had from my kids (and husband), was there wasn’t enough filling. The more filling I tried to add, the tougher it was to fold the dough over without everything spilling out.  So, if you have any advice, let us know!

Homemade Strawberry Cereal Bars

Crust:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup agave
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder.

Cream the coconut, agave, vanilla and egg, with an electric mixer.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, oats, salt, and baking powder.   Add dry ingredients to your creamed ingredients, a little at a time, with an electric mixer, until it is well incorporated.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap, and chill for 1 hour. Once chilled, roll out on wax paper, using flour where necessary so it doesn't stick to your rolling pin, or the counter.

Cut and wash 1 cup of strawberries.  Put them in a small saucepan with 1 tablespoon of water.  Using the edge of a wooden spoon, slowly break the strawberries up until the start to break apart.  After about 5 minutes, pour strawberries into a food processor and blend until smooth.  If you still would like it a little thicker, at this point, return the pureed strawberries to the saucepan, and add 1/2 tablespoon of corn starch with a few drops of water *enough to turn the corn starch liquid.  Add to the strawberries and stir over low heat until it begins to thicken.  

Preheat oven to 350. Roll out dough, and using a pizza wheel, cut into 3X3 inch squares.  Pour strawberry sauce on one side, and fold over and pinch to keep the filling in.  Transfer to a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 15 minutes.  To keep these soft, store in a zip top bag or air proof container.

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91 Comments

Virginia

I’ve been on the hunt for an all natural “Nutri Grain” recipe since I finally read their ingredient list. We’re trying to rid our home of all preservatives and that nasty Red 40! Thank you so much for this I will be trying it right away!

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Nichole

My kids eat the Trader Joe’s cereal bars for breakfast almost every morning. I can’t wait to try these to see how they go over. Do you think I could sub honey for the agave?

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Devin

Thanks for posting! These look incredible. I just made a mashed local apple sauce with cinnamon that be be an amazing filling. My toddler love cereal bars and the organic ones are so pricey.

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Karsyn

These look pretty easy! I also like the comment about using an apple purée with cinnamon too. How long would these last? Do you believe they would be fine in the freezer?
Thanks! I love your site by the way. Lots of great recipes and advice.

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Gretchen

To add more filling, what if you pipe a larger amount of filling onto parchment paper and freeze it, then wrap it in the crust. It would add a step and require some wait time to finish everything but might solve the problem? Haven’t tried it…just a thought.

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Bird

Just an idea – what if you freeze “logs” of the filling, and that way you could handle it and wrap the dough around it without it spilling out.

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Kimberly

Do you think I could substitute flax and water for the egg? We are a vegan household. Thanks!

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Melissa

Thanks for the recipe! I think it would be worth mentioning, when you recommend using agave nectar, that not all agave nectars are the same. There are many that are so processed and heated to such a degree that they are not any better than HFCS, and thus it is worth researching your agave before choosing to use it.

We’ll be trying it with a slightly reduced quantity of honey here!

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Melissa

Thanks for the recipe! I think it would be worth mentioning, when you recommend using agave nectar, that not all agave nectars are the same. There are many that are so processed and heated to such a degree that they are not any better than HFCS, and thus it is worth researching your agave before choosing to use it.

We’ll be trying it with a slightly reduced quantity of honey here!

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vandana

these look awesome. a great solution to my non-fresh-fruit-eating-toddler. i wonder if anyone has tried a non-gluten substitute ?

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Anitra

Thank you so much. I’ve been looking for ages for a recipe for a healthy homemade version of NutriGrain bars due to cost and content (as always!). Will use up some frozen blueberries and frozen raspberries for filling. Yum!! You two ladies are fabulous!

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Ashley

For the filling try making them like you would ravioli. I took two equal halves and put filling on one side and put the other piece on top then pinch together all four sides. I dipped my finger in a little bit of water to help hold. I also made them apple cinnamon and they turned out yummy!

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Jen

What can I substitute for the pastry flour as I have celiac. I really want to make these ASAP! Thanks Jen

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Leslie

Another idea ( I haven’t tried) is to partially dehydrate strawberry leathers, and then fold them in the dough and bake. it seems like you could get a more concentrated strawberry flavor that way.

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Nichol & Danielle– definitely try honey- maybe shorten the cooking time just a smidge.
Devin- Applesauce would be a great filling! Nice idea.
Karsyn- I’m sure you can put them in the freezer (if there are any left… they are really too good to save.
Gretchen & Bird- Freezing might work for the filling- also my husband was thinking adding gelatin and waiting for it to solidify a bit…
Kimberly- I’m sure you could. Flax has worked well for me in other baked goods.
Ashley- good idea!!
Jen & Vadana- a gluten free version maybe if you use gluten free all purpose flour?
Leslie- not bad idea- I even have a dehydrator, so I could definitely try it!

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These look really amazing, I can almost smell the fresh strawberries in this winter time! Saving for my next baking session, thank you very much!

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Sherry

These look great. My daughter has Type 1 (juvenile) diabetes and so I am always looking for healthier alternatives for her.

Do you happen to know the nutritional information for these bars?

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These look yummy! Here’s an idea to remedy the spilling filling: simmer it on the stovetop and stir in some mashed dates. They thicken the jam very nicely, making it less likely to ooze out of the bars. Plus, it’s a yummy natural sweetener.

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Thanks for the inspiration!
I am eating one from my first batch now. I used honey instead of agave & natural bran instead of oats. For my filling I made a dairy free choc & cherry by soaking 1cup of fresh deseeded cherries & 1/2 cup dates in boiling water for 10mins & processed with a stick blender before adding 1tbsp cocoa powder. Yum!

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Momnivore

To those asking about freezing – I make these all the time and they freeze great! Lay them out on a cooling rack and make sure they cool completely then I layer them in between parchment paper and freeze them in a gallon size bag. I pull them out individually the night before and let them defrost in the fridge before sending them off to school/daycare with my boys. The dough I use is a little different but I think it should work out the same. I’m looking forward to trying this dough though as I just got my hands on some coconut oil.

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Patty

About the filling not being enough… I wonder if you could fold it first but leaving one short side open and then pipe the filling in.

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Tonice

I made these on Monday. I LOVE them! My daughter (6) didn’t like the strawberry filling, but liked the “cookie” as she called it. I also used old fashioned oats. The filling wasn’t enough, but after baking, I also realized that I didn’t roll the dough out thin enough. But all in all, I loved them and will definitely make them again trying out different fruit fillings. Thank you!

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Kara

I just made these and had problems with the dough, I used regular whole wheat flour instead of pastry flour and honey instead of agave so maybe that’s why. It cracked very easily and most of the filling came out when I baked it. I will make again but try something different with the dough next time.

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OH bummer Kara- Maybe a little less flour- I’m in high altitude, so we tend to use MORE flour than someone at sea level?!?!

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Heather

I have no idea if this would work…..but how about putting the strawberry mixture in ice cube trays, then wrapping that bigger frozen chunk in the dough? If I try that, I will let you know how it comes out.

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Jennifer

I am in the process of making these and they are to wet to roll out. Not sure what to do! Add more flour? I used instant oats is that right?

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Yes! I used instant oats..if it’s wet, I would definitely add more flour. It should be the consistency of sugar cookie- roll out dough.

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Corbin

What I can I use to replace the coconut oil? I am highly allergic to coconut.

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Kristin

I absolutely love you blog and the amazing ideas!!! I want to try making these today. Do you know if it is possible to use oat flour rather than pastry flour?

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Thanks Kristin! That actually sounds super delicious! I bet you won’t have any trouble at all with that substitution!

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@Corbin- i would use butter as a substitute.
@sara! Thanks for the substitution information!

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@Corbin- i would use butter as a substitute.
@sara! Thanks for the substitution information!

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Natalie

My little one is allergic to egg. Do you think this recipe will work using the 1/4 cup of yoghurt substitution for the binding agent? Thank you!

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Melissa

I don’t have pastry flour. Can I use whole wheat flour instead? Also, can I use just regular old fashioned Quaker oats?

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Melissa

thanks, but can i use old fashioned oats quaker oats? I don’t have quick/instant oats. I have instant oatmeal though…

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mel

HI, I just made theses and found the same problem. I put the dough in the fridge for 10 minutes while I made the fruit and it worked a treat.

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vandana

I am about to try these again, but with a wild blueberry and spinach mixture. Let’s see if it passes the discerning tastes of my 2 year old

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Mama

For anyone having issues with filling, its because strawberries are low in pectin. Add some cut up apple, mango or pear to add flavor and increase pectin. Also, I like to let my fruit fillings boil for about 10 minutes and then simmer for a good 30-45 minutes before pureeing. This is absolutely essential to getting a good, thick filling consistency. 5 minutes is way too short and thats why its coming out watery for those having issues.

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Lauren

I followed the directions for the dough, but when i rolled it out and cut squares the dough was breaking apart and it was extremely hard to put filing in without it falling apart, or just fold them for that matter. wondering what i did wrong?? i did not use an electric mixer, it says mix, but was unsure if i mix with a wooden spoon as you do with most doughs, or if i was supposed to mix with an electric mixer. This is an awesome idea, just maybe a more detailed description on how to mix and how thick to roll the dough out? should i have mixed the coconut oil and agave with an electric mixer? thanks!

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Sara

The first time I made this, it was a complete failure. the dough was falling apart, it just didn’t come out right. i followed the directions to a T. But, i then realized that the directions are just general and not specific. because i dib and dap with baking, i decided to just go with what i know and try this again.
So, for people who are not familiar with baking i will tell you what worked for me, because the second time around it came out perfect.
when making the dough, i creamed (used an electric mixer) the coconut oil, agave, egg and vanilla. then took the dry mixture and mixed it in, a little by little, not all at once, with an electric mixer. once the dough was made, i wrapped it in wax paper and put in the fridge for 1 hour. This will make the dough hard so it wont break apart while folding.
for the filing i used blueberries, lemon rind, and a little pineapple juice. put it on the stove for 30 min. breaking it up and letting it simmer. i did not put it through a food processor, i like chunks of fruit.
once the dough was cold, i took it out and put wax paper on top to roll it out, because it gets sticky and i think adding more flour will only make it fall apart even more.
Baked 15 min. like the recipe said, and they came out wonderful!!
Thank you for the recipe!

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Great idea @Mama
@lauren- Sara did a great job explaining this in the comment above!
@Sara – thanks for the write- up, and you are right.. sometimes I make too many assumptions when I write recipes. I’ll go add these now, and clear stuff up.

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Lisa

I’m very excited to try these. I have been looking for a cereal bar recipe like “Nutrigrain” bars. I hate that food coloring is put into all of the foods these days. Thanks for sharing!

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amie Coffman

I’m curious what could I use in substitute for coconut oil? My daughter is allergic to coconut and all of it’s byproducts

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Nikki

These look great, I’m going to purée the fruit and add chia seeds for 30 minutes before filling to get a thicker filling. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

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whole wheat flour is much denser than whole wheat pastry flour, so i wouldn’t say they are completely interchangeable…
sometimes i do, but i guess not in this case haha

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Sarah.michels

What dough recipe do you use? I’m looking for one that does not use coconut oil. Thanks!

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Leanne

I would switch the agave for Rice Malt syrup (less fructose) and add a little arrowroot to the fruit purée and heat til thick then cool before spreading, should be able to apply thicker then.

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@Amie- I’m sure you could use butter for the coconut oil.
@Nikki- PERFECT! I love that ideas.
@Shannon- I would only keep them for a day or two, and probably in the fridge- because of the fruit.
@Leanne- great idea.

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tanja

Hi Sherry good question my daughter is also Type 1 you should try the black bean brownies these are not to high in carbs. :) thanks Amy your recipes are great

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Michele Droll

My 6 yr old daughter’s response was “I like them but can you make them like they are in the store next time.” They are not as sweet as the store brought variety which is partly what we are after. She’ll get used to them! LOL! Tips: don’t cheat on the hour you put the dough in the freezer before working with it. Flour the rolling area well and lightly on top of the dough before you put the wax paper over it. It’s really sticky to work with! Be very careful of not rolling them too thin. I found that my earlier ones had the strawberry filling ooze out of little breaks here and there. I used whole wheat pastry flour. It had a little bitterness to it. I think I’ll try a combo of unbleached white and whole wheat next time. Used a butter knife to carefully scratch them up off of my counter for a few that stuck and that worked well. Used a large thin spatula to carry them to the cookie sheet. I did let the strawberries simmer for 35 minutes and they thickened nicely. Start out with less filling than you think you will need and work from there. Too much and is oozes out from all over. I ran out of the filling and supplemented a few with peach preserves. Yummy!

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Katy

I tried this last night and was a total failure… not sure what happened but my dough just crumbled into a big mess. Maybe I needed more oil? I have never used coconut oil before, do I need to heat it on the stove first. Any tips would be great, I really wanted to try them!

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Tracy

I made these today for my 1.5 year old who loves the (gross) store-bought kind. She loved them! My dough came out a bit dry and crumbly and it was hard to fold it over, so I ended up using a round cookie cutter to make little “sandwiches” with the fruit filling. It turned out great! I ate one myself and was impressed with how filling they are for a snack. Will definitely be making regularly!

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Jo

Where do you find the pastry flower & what else could be used in place of the agave? Thks

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Emily Rennhack

I got some of these cereal bars from Target and they were a banana chocolate flavored.. my daughter love them and I want to recreate them. I’m thinking of using Nutella as the filling and mashing up a banana for the dough.
What should I substitute the banana for?

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@Michele -GREAT TIPS! Thanks for sharing.
Jo- the pastry flour is on the same aisle as the regular flour. It will say pastry flour right on it. You can use honey instead of agave, but perhaps lower your cooking temp because honey browns more quickly.
@Emily- I had no idea they had that flavor! Yum. I would use sliced bananas inside the dough and a glob of nutella on top of it! Let me know how it turns out.

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Katy- I warmed it up slightly just to get it to cream together, but not melt it. Did you use pastry flour? It’s a bit smoother and finer than regular whole wheat flour and could help as well.

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Emily Rennhack

OK, so I made them the other day. Used one mashed banana and halved the amount of coconut oil..I melted dark chocolate chips and piped it in the middle of the dough. The dough turned out and they tasted good.. I think I need to roll the dough out thinner because they didn’t stay shut during the baking process!

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Jennifer Alvarez

I am new to your site. I am really excited about my family transitioning to clean, healthy, all natural eating. I am in the process of removing all processed sweets from my daughter who is 4 years old. She absolutely LOVES fruit bars! I showed this to her and she is excited about making them :)
Thank you SOOO much for posting this!!!

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nikki

My dough didn’t work AT ALL. I had to use a mix of WW flour and unbleached cake flour b/c I can’t seem to find pastry flour anywhere. Any suggestions on other combos of flour that would work? It just kept tearing whenever I tried to move or fold it.

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@Nikki, without the pastry flour, maybe increase the coconut oil so it holds together better?? Maybe??

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Wendi

In one of her comments posted above, the author says that you can substitute canola oil. I will be doing that too! My husband is very allergic to coconuts and all tree nuts, so I don’t keep any coconut/nut products in our house. These are for my one year old, but I always get nervous that daniel will take a bite to be silly with Sarah and then I’ll freak out and run for the epipen! Better safe than sorry!! :) Can’t wait to try this recipe!!

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Erica

I followed the recipe but the dough was too crumbly so I add 2 tablespoons of softened butter and.one more egg.
I.folded the first two, use ravioli method for a few. And finally on the last one got the idea to use my pampered chef sandwich sealer which worked the best!

i used blueberries (cooked down on stove with sugar, lemon juice , corn starch) then add one envelope of gelatin while still hot.

haven’t tasted it yet (waiting for breakfast tomorrow) , but sure does smell good

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kathleen krause

What can be used in place of coconut oil? My daughter is allergic to tree nuts. Thanks for any info.

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erica w

Almost any kind.of.oil (except olive would be too heavy) corn, veggie, canola, or you can just use butter

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SS

Hi. Did you try the flax and water substitute? Wanted to make these eggless and was wondering how yours turned out. Thanks :)

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Jen

I had such high hopes for these….. and I failed miserably. The crust came out so incredibly dry and rock hard, I couldn’t even roll it out. I moved to Denver a few years ago and cannot seem to get the hang of baking in this high altitude. Any tips? I’d really like to try these again.. someday.

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Bummer Jen. Did you use the pastry flour? It you used regular flour, maybe you would need to increase some of the wet ingredients, and then chill the dough.

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Jen

Hi Amy! Thanks for the reply. I used white whole wheat flour, but not pastry flour. That probably had a lot to do with it. What if I do half Softa cake flour and half white whole wheat? Do you think that might work?

I’ll have to read up on high altitude baking and see if there are any additional changes I should be making, and try again. I really want these to work, since I know my boys would love them! They would be perfect for a healthy grab-and-go breakfast on our way out the door for school, since we always seem to be rushing! :)

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