Authentic Bagels

 

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Repeat after me, “Bagels are not hard to make.”

Good.  Now, keep that in mind as you read on.  There are several steps, but they are NOT hard.  You can do this!

Authentic bagels are always boiled before they are baked, which lends their distinctive chewy texture.  Legitimate bagels also make use of a long fermentation process to increase the depth and quality of the final flavor.

There are three steps:

  1. Make the dough
  2. Poach each bagel for 1-2 minutes (you can do several at a time in a large stock pot)
  3. Bake the par-boiled breads until chewy

 

1-DOUGH
makes 12-16 bagels
Recipe adapted from a Peter Reinhart version found here.

2 Tbsp honey (substitute barley malt syrup if you have it)
2 tsp instant yeast
1 Tbsp salt
18 oz lukewarm water
7 cups bread flour

In a BOSCH mixer, or by hand, mix 6 1/2 cups flour, yeast, and salt.  Dissolve honey (or malt syrup) in water and add to the bowl of the mixer.  Mix on low speed 2-3 minutes.

Check dough.  It should be tacky, but not sticky.  Add remaining flour if necessary.

Mix another 3 minutes on low speed.

Let rise 1 hour at room temperature.

Shape into bagels and place onto a sheet pan that has been either greased or lined with a silicone baking mat. I actually love these that have a permanent silicone coating. To shape, form 4 oz balls and use one of two methods:

  • form rolls and poke a hole in the center, widening the hole to desired size
  • roll dough into a snake and using your palm, roll the ends together to form a circle

Spray surface of bagels with oil, cover pans loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 8 hours or up to 2 days.

Alternatively, you can proof entire batch of dough and shape 1 – 1 1/2 hours prior to baking time.

2-POACHING

Remove bagels from fridge 1 hour before you want to bake them. Prepare the poaching liquid:

  • Fill a stock pot with at least 5 inches of water (around 3 quarts).
  • Add 1 Tbsp baking soda, 1 1/2 Tbsp honey (or barley malt syrup) and 1 tsp salt.
  • Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low if bagels are not ready quite yet.
  • Preheat oven to 450° F

To check for readiness:

  • Fill a small bowl with cold water.
  • Drop a bagel into the cold water.
  • If it floats, they are ready.  If not, recheck in 15 minutes.

To poach:

  • Gently add a few bagels to the boiling liquid (don’t overcrowd-they should fit in a single layer).
  • Poach for one minute and then flip with a slotted spoon.
  • Poach second side for an additional 30-60 seconds.
  • Remove to a greased or silicone-lined baking sheet

Now is the time to add toppings such as garlic, cheese, salt, cinnamon & sugar, etc.

3-BAKING

Put trays of bagels into oven and check after 8 minutes.  If they are browning too quickly on the bottom, lower heat to 425° F or add another baking sheet under the pan for insulation.

Rotate pan and bake another 8-10 minutes, or until bagels are golden brown.

Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

Cranberry Orange Muffins

These muffins are easy, but also perfect for any fancy occasion with their streusel topping. When we have leftover cranberry relish from Thanksgiving it always turns into these treats on Sunday morning following the holiday.

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Cranberry Orange Muffins
Yield: 1 dozen muffins

1 large egg
½ cup milk
¼ cup butter, melted
1 tsp real vanilla extract
1/8 tsp orange oil or zest of one orange
1 ½ cups flour (I use wheat pastry flour)
1/4 cup sugar or maple syrup
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup cranberries fresh or frozen (or substitute fresh cranberry relish NOT jellied sauce)
1 Tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 400° degrees. Generously grease one muffin tin, or line with paper liners. Beat egg slightly with a fork. Stir in milk, butter, vanilla, orange oil, and zest.

In a food processor, pulse cranberries and 1 Tbsp sugar until finely chopped (alternately, chop by hand and toss with sugar).
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add chopped cranberries and stir till coated. Make a well in dry ingredients, add wet ingredients, and fold very gently. Scoop into prepared tin and top with streusel topping. Bake approximately 20 minutes, or until just turning golden.

Streusel Muffin Topping

¾ cup flour
½ cup butter
½ cup sugar

Mix all ingredients together in food processor (or with a pastry blender or your fingers) until like crumbs. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon on top of muffins before baking.

Garlic Rolls

Winter is upon us.  As I type this, I have a blanket wrapped around me like a shawl and a mug of herbal tea standing by.  A friend of mine used the hashtag #puttingonthewinterweight in a social media post the other day, and I laughed out loud.  There is some truth to the fact that our bodies crave different foods in the cooler months.  We long for calorie-dense meals that will give our bodies the energy to keep warm.  Our genes are unaware of central heating and certainly haven’t heard of a desk job.

We’ve been turning up the oven for dinners lately and enjoying the warm kitchen while we feast on baked meals and pots of soup.  Homemade bread in any form speaks of winter comfort and rolls are often where we turn when we want to be reminded of grandma’s house and slower times gone by.

These rolls are a variation on my slightly-famous (ha!) Hearth Bread.  If you know me, and I’ve brought you a loaf before, then you will recognize the dough. It also makes a killer pizza crust, especially if you raise and bake the dough in a little melted butter.  (It tastes just like Pizza Huts’ famous pan crust, I swear!).  Though we will be making my grandmother’s rolls for Thanksgiving, these would made a beautiful addition to any holiday table.  Enjoy your cozy winter evenings at home!

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Garlic Rolls

Dough:
1 Tbsp yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
2 cups warm wate
1 ½ tsp chopped fresh rosemary or  Italian Herbs or equal parts dried basil and oregano
½ tsp black pepper
dash granular garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 ½ tsp sea salt (or kosher salt)
Bread flour (you will use about 4-6 cups, maybe a little more)

Topping:
4 Tbsp butter, melted
1/4 tsp granular garlic
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley or 2 tsp dried parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
finely grated Parmesan cheese (I sometimes us a combo of Parmesan and Romano in my rotary grater)

Combine yeast, sugar and water in a stand mixer (I use a BOSCH) or a large mixing bowl if mixing by hand.  Add herbs , pepper, oil and about 2 cups flour and stir just for a minute to combine.  Add salt and gradually add more flour until dough is tacky, but not sticky.prinkle with cheese.  Bake in a 400° oven for 12-15 minutes, or until golden.

Place in a well-oiled bowl and allow to raise at room temperature until doubled.  I often do this first raise in the refrigerator overnight.

Shape into rolls, or knots and place on a greased cookie sheet.   Raise until nearly double in size.  Combine topping ingredients, except for the cheese and brush over rolls. IMG_1547.JPG

Ode to the Cuisine of Israel: Pita Bread

I was able to take an amazing trip to the Holy Land with my husband several years ago–an experience I will never forget.   I was prepared to be underwhelmed by the food, but I was oh, SO WRONG.  Five-star desserts weren’t the norm, aside from this one:

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But, the food was truly outstanding.  I attribute this mainly to the use of local, fresh produce.  People all over the country still buy their produce from local farmers and at local “stands.”  Keep in mind, this was the selection in the dead-winter of January.

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IMG_0914IMG_0925The variety of salads and vegetable preparations was something I have never seen in America.  I have since read in several cookbooks and on numerous food blogs dedicated to this region that no Arab woman was likely to be taken as a bride unless she could prepare eggplant in seven (the number varies depending upon the account) different ways.  I believe it.  I saw vegetables prepared in so many ways I cannot even begin to remember many of them.  I met few I didn’t love.

In fact, our favorite, deceptively simple, staple cabbage salad originated from this trip.  That recipe will have to keep for a winter’s day, however.  Today, we are going to talk about something more traditional to the cuisine of Israel: pita sandwiches.

Flat breads are the staple for cultures with ancient beginnings (think unleavened bread and manna of the Old Testament).  Whether opened up and stuffed, torn into wedges and used as a vehicle for hummus or other dips, or simply folded up into a taco shape with something delicious inside, pitas are delightful.  What child’s interest doesn’t spark when you tell them lunch will be “pocket sandwiches?”

My pita dough uses a sourdough starter, which I know just caused some people to stop reading and click elsewhere, but bear with my while I explain.  More traditional yeast bread methods always used a long soaking time and a natural yeast (sourdough) starter for leavening.  There is some indication that these historic methods actually changed the digestibility of the grains and are therefore healthier for our digestive systems.  I am not saying I’ve found a cure for Celiac or anything (that would be ridiculous, since I am no scientist) only that when I am able, I like to use the old-school method both for assumed health benefits as well as a slower, more traditional experience and final product.  If you’d rather make pita without the sourdough, I have included a second recipe below that omits it.  I am unabashedly partial to the sourdough version.  Once your pitas are done, stuff them with hummus, grilled veggies and more (don’t worry we’ll get into that later in the week).

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Pita Bread – Whole Wheat, Sourdough
Adapted from: http://bintrhodaskitchen.blogspot.com

Yield:  15-20 rounds
4 cups whole wheat flour (can use all white or half white and half wheat)
1 Tbsp Real kosher salt
2 tablespoons honey
2 cups whole milk
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup sourdough starter, freshly fed and bubbly, (freshly fed will give less of a sour taste to the final bread)

To Make Dough:
Mix together 3 cups of flour and salt in a mixing bowl (if kneading by hand) or bowl of a stand mixer.

Add honey, milk, oil and starter. Knead for several minutes and then add the extra flour a little at a time until dough is tacky, not sticky.

Form dough into a round, place in an oiled bowl and cover.  Allow to raise until double in size, about 4-6 hours.

To Form and Bake:
Divide the dough into lemon sized balls and use either a tortilla press or a rolling pin (or a combination of both) to roll them out rather thin, but not too thin or they won’t hold up to stuffing.  Children are ideal helpers during this step.

Place the loaves on a well-floured surface so that they do not stick and cover with a damp towel.  Allow to rest 5-10 minutes while you work on the other rounds.  They won’t rise noticeably.

Preheat either a cast iron skillet or a pizza stone in the oven.  Carefully place rounds onto hot surface and cook until they puff completely, about 2-3 minutes.  Flip and cook 1-2 minutes on the other side.  Repeat with remaining rounds.  Store finished pita in a tortilla warmer to keep warm and soft until you are ready to eat them.

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Pita Bread, Instant Yeast
Adapted from: The Foods of Israel Today by Joan Nathan

1 Tbsp instant yeast
1 ½ cups warm water
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour (or a combo of wheat and white), approximately

1. Combine yeast and warm water in bowl of BOSCH mixer. Stir until yeast is dissolved; add olive oil, and salt. With motor on speed 1, add enough flour to form a firm, elastic dough.

2. Form dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover with saran wrap and let rise until doubled.

3. Turn dough out onto floured surface and cut into 12 equal pieces. Using your hands, form each section into a ball about the size of a lemon. Cover with a towel and set aside for 5 minutes.

4. Lightly flour the worksurface and roll each ball to a 6-inch disk. The dough will be very elastic, so roll firmly, adding a little more flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Repeat with remaining balls of dough. Cover and let rest 15 minutes

5. Meanwhile, preheat oven with a baking stone (alternately, a baking sheet pan) to 500°, or use a cast iron pan on the stovetop.  Using a peel, transfer 2 rounds to the baking stone or pan and bake 3 minutes. Remove withtongs or spatula and repeat with all remaining rounds.