Archive for October, 2012

Bagels: They weren’t so difficult!

I MADE BAGELS! I cannot believe that I actually made bagels! I was a little scared by the recipe. All those steps! I found myself reading, highlighting, and marking the recipe in parts, chapters, sections, and steps. And there were a lot of them! I wondered how I would handle the stretching the dough into ring toss sizes (BTW: The ring toss example was terrific!) The thought of at ‘water bath’ scared me. So I put it off until the last possible day. On the day I made the bagels I thought that I would only make the first batch. I was confident that they would not turn out well. Maybe too tough, maybe to doughy. So that was the agreement was, I would just do five bagels. And probably poorly.

As I started I found that the pulling and pinching up the dough wasn’t so bad, but I did check my index fingernail many times to be certain that it was clean for the plunge and wiggle step. (I am fastidious about clean hands and in baking, they cannot be clean enough!) So once I felt sanitized, I then plunged, wiggled and stretched. They looked beautiful!  Then I let one slide into the water bath and it sunk (just as the recipe said it would) and then came up to float.

I was encouraged.

So I dropped a few more and began to feel really confident and steadily worked at the water bath. I chose a simple kosher salt topping and then transferred the bagels to the steam bath in the oven. Slight mistake here, but not fatal. I put the bagels in AFTER the ice cubes. Yeah, I know it was illogical. Then closed the oven door, turned the temp down and hoped for the best. I could see they were browning nicely and looking like a real bagel.

I pulled the first batch out of the oven I thought, “What the heck was I so worried about?” Batch 1 came out pretty well.

Bagel Batch 1

Batch 1: Bagels plain with a little kosher salt

Feeling confident, I broke my agreement with myself and went for batch 2! This time, I experimented with the topping and added more salt and caraway seeds. Only one mistake from bath to cooling rack: I forgot to lower the oven temp after closing that oven door – but remembered within 5 minutes of baking – it didn’t matter because these, too, turned out well. (WHO KNEW I COULD DO THIS?????) They came out looking pretty good as well.

Bagel Batch 2: Caraway seeds and kosher salt topping

Bagel Batch 2: Caraway seeds and kosher salt topping

For dinner I decided to have a bagel sandwich. I took a bagel from Batch 2. I spread a thin coating of  mustard, added arugula, sliced apples and brie. Broiled until almost melted and took the picture. Then sat down to watch Dancing with the Stars. I ate that sandwich like it had been made at the local deli.

Homemade bagel sandwich with mustard, arugula, apples and brie

Homemade bagel sandwich with mustard, arugula, apples and brie

I was so proud of myself! I just had to have a couple pats on the back for taking this recipe on. So, when my husband came home late from work (he’s a reference librarian and works until closing one night a week), I left the bagels out with instructions that he had to have one.

He complied.

Then I bugged him for the next hour to tell me how wonderful they were.

He complied.

As soon as we got up the next morning the first thing I asked him was, “Are you going to tell everyone at work today that I made great bagels?”

He said, “Yes.”  But the look on his face said, “Absolutely not.”

Sigh.

Never mind if the world knows – I know that I BAKED BAGELS!

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Cranberry-Walnut Pumpkin Loaves

In the end, this was a terrific bread that everyone loved. To make it was easy but storing overnight in the refrigerator held a surprise for me.

I started the bread at 8:30 in the morning and had reached the point in the directions to ‘wrap it tightly in plastic and refrigerate overnight’ (page 109.) This was Step 13. The directions were a little vague – especially if one reads ahead.  I wasn’t certain if I should wrap the dough or place the dough in the bowl and wrap the bowl because, as we all know, the dough rises in the refrigerator. AND in the following paragraph, the sentence begins for Step 14: ‘leave the dough, covered in its bowl. . . ‘ (also page 109). Does this mean that the dough was already in the bowl?

The directions befuddled me. All I knew at this point was that that dough had to be in the frig overnight. So I took the path that wrapped the dough in plastic wrap, placed it in the bowl, and put it in the frig at about 11:00 in the morning.  Well, here’s what happened. . .

I am not a great sleeper and sure enough, I woke up at 1:00 in the morning. Slipped out of bed to read (am reading “Dragonwyck” by Anya Seton – and read that the main character burns her bread.) Anyway, I thought I would check on the dough in the plastic wrap in the the bowl in the frig. I could not believe what I saw.

The Dough had busted a gut. It had popped through that plastic wrap like the Blob (in the Steve McQueen movie, The Blob, 1958*), and it was oozing out of its plastic wrap with unbridled abandon! It had developed a tougher skin because it had dried slightly at the broken seam, so I knew then I it was time for Step 14. I counted the hours – about 15 – that the dough had been in the frig, thinking, the Dough doesn’t know it hasn’t been in the frig overnight and 15 hours would seem a reasonable time for an overnight. Right? Right.

Well, I took the next steps with the Dough as described on page 109 and went about making the bread throughout the night and into the morning. (I got a good chunk of the book read while doing so.) And, the bread turned out perfect. It doesn’t need butter nor cheese. The cranberries were tart and the raisins were sweet. It’s wonderful as toast and everyone loved it.

Sliced C-W P loaf

*Note:  The 1958 version of The Blob is, in my opinion much better than the 1980’s version; however, the 80’s version has its merits.

This blog is dedicated to my foodie pup, Sam, who stole my cherry gallette just weeks ago. Sam passed away peacefully in my arms after a short, but aggressive cancer on September 20, 2012. Sam was a foodie, preferring gorgonzola cheese and avacados to regular dog food. He could cruise counters with the quietness of a stealth bomber and was able to open the frig, cheese drawer and hold parties for the other dogs. (We got a lock.) He always stayed with me while I cooked, baked and struggled with recipes. I missed him so during this baking project.