Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I made bagels last week. I wanted to take some pictures so I saved one, and when I got around to taking the picture it had wonderful green spots all over it. So sorry, no photo. But I did realize that it's pointless to have a food blog if you aren't going to post recipes. So I will post recipes, just probably not today. I will soon though. :) The bagels were fantastic but I'm not sure if the overnight retard was worth it. I'd like to try some actual New York Bagels because apparently those are the gold standard...

Makes 12 Large or 24 Mini Bagels

1 tsp Instant Yeast
4 C Unbleached High-Gluten or Bread Flour (NOT Vital Wheat Gluten Flour)
2 1/2 C Room Temperature Water

1/2 tsp Instant Yeast
3 3/4 C Unbleached High-Gluten or Bread Flour
2 3/4 tsp Salt
2 tsp Malt Powder OR 1 T Dark or Light Malt Syrup, honey or brown sugar

To Finish
1 T Baking Soda
Cornmeal or Semolina Flour for dusting
Sesame Seeds, poppy seeds, kosher salt, rehydrated dried minced garlic or onions, or chopped fresh onion that have been tossed in oil (All Optional)

1. Stir the Sponge ingredients together, whisking or stirring only until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (it is supposed to look like pancake batter, but mine was really thick). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly. It should swell to nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop.

2. In the same bowl, add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir. Then add 3 C flour and all of the salt and malt. Stir (or mix on low speed in a mixer) until all of the ingredients forma ball slowly working in the remaining 3/4 C Flour.

3. Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for at least 10 minutes (or 6 minutes in a mixer). The dough should be firm but still pliable and smooth. Everything should be hydrated and pass the windowpane test. The dough should register between 77-81 degrees. If the dough seems too dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading. If the dough seems too tacky or sticky, add more flour to achieve the stiffness required.

4. Immediately divide the dough into 4.5 ounce pieces for standard bagels or smaller if desired. Form the pieces into rolls and let them rest for 20 minutes and prepare a sheet pan.

5. Cover 2 sheet pans with parchment and lightly spray with oil. Shape the bagels and place carefully on each pan. Shape the bagels by rolling each piece of dough into 8 inch lengths. Wrap it gently around your hand with the ends meeting in your palm. Roll the ends together to seal. Gently place each bagel on a sheet pan keeping them 2 inches apart.

6. Mist the bagels very ligtly with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the pans sit for about 20 minutes.

7. Test one bagel using the float test. Fill a small bowl with cool or room temperature water. The bagels are ready to retard overnight when one floats within 10 seconds of being dropped in the water. Test one bagel and if it floats, immediately return the bagel tot he pan and dry it off. Cover the pan and then place them in the fridge overnight. If it does not float, return it to the pan and continue proofing at room temperature and check back ever 10-20 minutes until the tester floats.

8. When you are ready to bake the bagels (either the next day or within 3 days) preheat the oven to 500 degrees with 2 racks in the middle of the oven. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add the baking soda.

9. Remove the bagels from the fridge and gently drop them in the water, boiling only as many as comfortably fit (they should float within 10 seconds). After 1 minutes, flip them and boil for another minute. If you like chewy bagels you can extend the boiling time to 2 minutes per side. While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the same parchment lined sheet pans with cornmeal or semolina flour. if you want to top the bagels, do so as soon as they come out of the water.

10. When all the bagels have been boiled, place the pans on the middle shelves in the oven. Bake for about 5 minutes, then rotate the pans, switching shelves and turning the pans 180 degrees. After the rotation, lower the oven to 450 and continue baking for about 5 minutes or until the bagel turn light golden brown (it took another 10 minutes or so).

11. Remove the pans from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Anadama Bread

This bread is a cornmeal molasses bread. I've never had a bread like this and I was quite surprised. The molasses was not overpowering, although it could have been had I used a dark molasses. I used a fine ground cornmeal instead of the coarse ground suggested and maybe that is why I didn't notice a texture change. It was good for about 4 days though before it started to crumble. I did have to knead it for almost 20 minutes before the gluten was developed properly. Maybe I just need practice in kneading :)

Anadama Bread
Makes Two 1 1/2 LB Loaves or Three 1 LB Loaves
1 C Cornmeal
1 C Water

4 1/2 C Unbleached Bread Flour
2 tsp Instant Yeast
1 C Lukewarm Water
1 1/2 tsp Salt
6 T Molasses
2 T Shortening or Unsalted Butter
Cornmeal for dusting (optional)

Note: Depending on the type and brand of Molasses that you use, it will change the flavor. I used Mild Brer Rabbit Molasses. You can find it in the section with the Corn Syrup in your grocery store.

1. Make the soaker the day before by combining the cornmeal and water in a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit overnight at room temperature.

2. Make the dough the next day by stirring together 2 C of flour, the yeast, soaker and water in a mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and ferment for 1 hour, or until the sponge begins to bubble.

3. Add the remaining 2 1/2 C Flour, salt, molasses and shortening (I used butter) and stir (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) until the ingredients form a ball. Add water if necessary to make a soft, slightly sticky mass.

4. Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter and begin kneading (Or mix on medium speed with a dough hook), sprinkling in more flour as needed to make a tacky but not sticky dough. The dough should be firm but supple and pliable and definitely not sticky. It will take about 10 minutes of kneading to accomplish this (6-8 minutes in a mixer). The dough should pass the window pane test (which means you gently stretch the dough until it thin and you can see light through it. If it tears instead of stretches the gluten is not developed and you need to keep kneading).

5. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and ferment the dough at room temperature for about 90 minutes or until it doubles in size.

6. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into 2 equal pieces of 24 ounces or 3 pieces of about 16 ounces. Shape the dough into loaves, and place them into bread pans that have been lightly oiled or misted with spray oil. Mis the tops of the loaves with spray oil and loosely cover the tops with plastic wrap.

7. Proof at room temperature for 60-90minutes, or until the loaves crest fully above the tops o the pans. At this point you can hold back some loaves for up to 2 days, just place them in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them. Pull them out 4 hours before baking and leave them at room temperature.

8. Preheat oven to 350. Place the bread pans on a cookie sheet. Mist with water and dust with cornmeal if you'd like.

9. Place the sheet pan in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the sheet pan for even baking and continue to bake for 20-30 minutes or until the loaves are golden brown and register at least 185-190 in the center. They should make a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom.

10. When the loaves are done remove them immediately from the pans and cool on a rack for at least 1 hour before slicing or serving.

Bread Project

So I've decided to start a new project. I will be baking my way through Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice. I started last week. I'll post pictures and potentially recipes as well. I hope you enjoy it :) I will be kneading everything by hand and try to keep exactly to the recipes. Once this is finished I will probably move on to his Whole Grain Breads book.