Tuesday, October 16, 2012

TWD--Bagel shaping method a winner

The bagel recipe in Baking with Julia is unlike my favorite Jewish egg bagels, but I was ready to give it a try to see if I might like it as well or even better. Plus, the addition of black pepper was pretty intriguing..

After reading through the recipe, I saw that it used six cups of flower -- yowsah! That's a lot of flour for just 10 bagels. I reasoned the bagels could be the size of small car tires, so I opted to cut the recipe in half, then reduce the size of the bagels, getting a half-dozen out of a half recipe. The step of refrigerating the dough was new to me in making bagels, but I thought it would be worth doing unlike the refrigeration step in the pumpkin bread. I could see no reason for it in that recipe, but thought the cold dough might make shaping the bagels a bit easier.

Risen dough
I made no additions or subtractions to the recipe, and added a teaspoon of black pepper for the half recipe. I allowed it to rise about an hour in my microwave (which I had warmed by heating an inch of water in a glass on high for two minutes). After that proofing, I stuck the dough in the refrig for an overnight rising. Here is what the half recipe looked like after a night in the fridge.

Bagels after shaping and boiling
The book's technique of shaping the bagels was different than my usual method. Normally, I roll about four ounces of dough in a rope, then wrap the dough around my hand with the ends meeting at my palm. I then roll my hand back and forth on the counter, merging the two ends of dough together. I must say I liked the Baking with Julia method much better and thought that it worked very well with the chilled dough. I allowed one piece of dough to warm up, just to see if it was harder to shape and it was. Thus, the step of chilling was worthwhile. The boiling step went well, except for the fact that I mistakenly put one boiled bagel on the towel with the flour -- oh no! It stuck to the towel as if it were glued. After all, flour and water make paste. I opted to use poppy seeds after applying the egg white wash.

The bagels after baking
I chose to bake my bagels five minutes less than the recipe instructed and was I glad I did. Even at that, I thought they were somewhat over baked. The taste? They were good, but very chewy. That night in the fridge probably made the dough all that more glutenous. If you like a very chewy bagel, this is the recipe for you. But, I confess, I couldn't taste the pepper. Frankly, I like Jewish egg bagels better -- less chewy and lighter, making them excellent for sandwiches.

Monday, October 1, 2012

TWD -- My favorite recipe so far

I loved, loved, loved the Pumpkin Cranberry Nut Yeast Bread, this week's Tuesdays with Dorie assignment! I can't say enough good things about it. I had pumpkin in the freezer left over from last year's crop of pie pumpkins, and I thawed it enabling me to use the real McCoy, rather than the canned, processed variety.

After reading the recipe, I decided to skip the refrigeration step. I know, I know, I cheated, but time was of the essence and I needed to be up and gone today and lacked the luxury of waiting around for refrigerated dough to warm and then rise. Plus, I have baked with refrigerated dough before and don't think the extra step adds enough to the final product to make it all worthwhile. It may pay off when making a baguette, but when making a vegetable, fruit bread, I couldn't see the advantage.
I made no changes to the recipe except for substituting dried cranberries (Craisins) for fresh ones. I love Craisins, and I reasoned that fresh cranberries could give the bread too tart a taste.

Baked in 71.2- by 4-inch pans
I opted to bake my loaves in 71/2- by 4-inch pans rather than the three smaller ones. First of all, I don't own those minuscule pans (what's the point?) and I wanted a sizable loaf to take to a Debate Party on Wednesday night (go Obama).

Second rise, 2 hours
Sliced when still warm
My dough did need a bit more water, perhaps an ounce or so, but otherwise the it acted as it should, slapping the sides of the Kitchen Aid bowl like a good loaf of bread should. The dough took a while to rise, due I think to the sugar and the cinnamon in the mixture, but it was well worth the wait. The first rise took 90 minutes, the second rise 120. I couldn't wait to carve into the loaf, and I was ecstatic over its taste, its crumb, its texture. I will definitely make this bread again!