Recipe 10. Sunflower Seed Rolls

I was super excited about this recipe. I mean sunflower seeds in yummy roll format, but things weren’t exactly as I’d hoped. I mean, they were tasty and all, just different than what I was expecting.

The recipe called for wheat bran. I had such trouble finding what I needed online so I ventured to the neighborhood Sprouts to see if they had it. Surely they had to have it. They did but it took some work. I couldn’t find it in the aisles or bins. Finally I asked someone and by that point I couldn’t remember if I needed wheat germ or wheat bran. Turns out they had both but the wheat germ was in back. The very helpful young man went to the storeroom and carried out this ginormous bin full of wheat bran. I scooped what I needed and he said it was on the house. Totally unexpected. Completely grateful. That made my day.

The recipe instructed me to soak the wheat bran in milk overnight. I suppose that was to fluff up the bran. Oh. Before I continue I should probably discuss the difference between wheat germ and wheat bran because they are not the same thing. Think of it this way. Wheat is a seed. There’s an outer part and inner part of the seed. The outer part of the seed or kernel is the bran and the inner part is the germ. The outer part is harder so I’m guessing it has more fiber. Don’t quote me on that. If you really want to learn more, type “wheat bran vs wheat germ” into your favorite search engine. If you are having trouble sleeping, I suggest you read that before bed. You’re welcome.

So to the bran/milk mixture, I added instant yeast, wheat flour, bread flour, honey, sunflower oil, salt and finally the sunflower seeds. PSA – make sure when ordering sunflower seeds online you don’t choose the mega bag of sesame seeds by mistake. (If you need some, let me know. I think I have 500 pounds of them.)

After mixing and the first proof, the dough bulked up quite nicely. See for yourself.

You can see the bran bits in there. The dough was pretty great to work with. The roll size was smaller than previous recipes – 30g to the 50g I’d used for the soft dough recipes. My measurement were fine as far as the dough, but I should have reduced it further so I didn’t have a gazillion rolls. Ok I had like 50 rolls by the time I was done. The last dozen or so I weighed out to 50g and just adapted the baking time for the larger rolls. Egg wash, final proof, more egg wash and extra seeds on top then in the oven they went. Here’s my assistant posing for the camera. (Speaking of my Little, she wanted ginger bread cookies so we were doing two projects at once. I won’t do that again. Too much.)

Sunflower seed rolls before going into the oven

Here’s the final product.

After the bake

The flavor was just ok. Not awesome like the other recipes so far. I didn’t love them. I think they needed more sweetness. I took them to work and walked around my colleagues desks offering rolls with butter and asking for honest critique. The general consensus was good and some even seemed impressed that I made them myself. There was some constructive feedback, too. Maybe the sunflower oil was too much or off even though I bought the bottle the day before. Maybe it needed more sweetness to offset the nutty flavor which is what I think. Whatever the case, I’m chalking this one up to done and done. I froze half the baked batch. I think I’ll thaw them out soon and serve them with a honey butter – I think that would be delicious.

Oh and about those gingerbread cookies… they turned out great. The kid refused to eat them but I promise you they were good. I ate more than my fair share. We decided to make a gingerbread house this coming weekend. I’ve never done one before but there’s a first time for everything. And the recipe we tried was a winner. Didn’t need to chill the dough and the cookie was crunchy but the inside was softer. Delicious. Image below is before baking. I never did take pictures of the finished product after icing but they looked great. (Link to recipe if you click the image below.)

Gingerbread cut outs before baking

Recipe 9. Rye with Caraway Seeds

I’m so behind on this whole blogging part of this experience. I’m still keeping up with actually baking a recipe a week, but actually sitting down to write about the experience has proven to be harder than I thought. When I do have time, I find something else to do. Mindless stuff like binge watching shows on Netflix, catching up on laundry, deep cleaning the kitchen, and spending entirely too much time on Facebook.

A dear friend of mine suggested that instead of playing candy crush or watching TV that I should bring my laptop to bed with me and just do it at night before bed. It sounds good in theory, but after an exhausting day working or an especially long weekend day tending to a mouthy four year old, I’m just done. Still, my friend has a point so instead of dragging the laptop over, I’ll just blog using my cell phone instead of Candy Crush Friends. I’ve done a couple of posts using my phone; it’s not horrible but tapping letters is not exactly efficient.

So yeah, rye bread. I took a full week looking at rye flours online trying to find medium rye flour. I just could not find that precise wording. I finally pulled the trigger and just ordered some and figured I’d make it work. I also spent time looking at caraway seeds. I’d never used them before. I didn’t worry too much about them and just threw something into the cart. The recipe itself wasn’t too complicated. Instant yeast and flour in one bowl. Everything else (except caraway seeds) in the stand mixer. Dump flour/yeast mixture into mixing bowl. Dough hook. Four minutes on low, add seeds (my modification), and four more minutes one speed up. Turn out, fold. Bulk ferment (initial rise). Voila.

This was another recipe that called for the Pullman loaf pan. I’m so glad I brought it.

Here are a few pictures I took. I weigh everything because I prefer being exact. If you know me personally, you’re nodding as you read that. Shut up.

I want a new scale but this one is working just fine. I wish it measured heavier things. Mental note – maybe I can write about scales for another post.

And here is the finished product. It tasted delicious but the color was light. I probably could have let it brown a bit more but the texture was perfect. I also needed to adjust the measurements to make a slightly taller loaf. Regardless, it was delicious. We made sandwiches with corned beef and sauerkraut. Don’t knock it. They were delicious. Of course my favorite way to eat bread is warm from the oven with butter. So good. Nothing better.

Energy and persistence conquer all things.” Benjamin Franklin

Recipe 8. Grissini

I’ve gotten behind on my posts. Life has been crazy busy and that means when I do have down time I typically don’t feel like sitting in front of a computer and writing about a recipe that failed. Well, it didn’t fail really but it just wasn’t as much fun as I thought it would be.

So let me tell you about grissini or Italian breadsticks. These aren’t puffy or soft breadsticks like you get at the Olive Garden. They’re crunchy and crispy and taste of olive oil and salt though I didn’t know that until I made them. I’d never had them before. The dough is interesting in that it does contain yeast, but I wouldn’t consider them soft bread. The dough comes together similarly to the other recipes thus far and it uses bread flour. The consistency was quite dense. Here’s what it looked like after mixing.

Breadstick dough in stand up mixer after mixing and kneading
Grissini dough after mixing and kneading (dough hook)

I found this dough – well, truthfully most doughs that require rolling – to be a bit tough to work with as far as getting it shaped. I did my best. I cut off the excess so that I could create long strip of dough. I did the first batch using a knife, but because I wasn’t getting even cuts I took the recipes’s suggestion and pulled out my pasta maker that we’d received as a wedding present. Set up was easier than I remembered and I quickly got up to speed.

After all that, I loaded them up on baking sheets and brushed with olive oil I added sesame seeds and poppy seeds, but you wouldn’t know it after I stood them up.

Finished breadsticks, various sizes

The other issue I had with them was they cooled off too quickly when I packed them up to bring to the ballet class to share with the other parents, so the texture was more chewy than crispy. I ended up putting them back in the oven when I got home. They crisped right up. Much better but honestly I’m pretty sure I’m never going out of my way to make them again. I did learn quite a bit and the good news is I have renewed interest in making pasta. Noodle party!

Until next time,

Dina

Recipe 7. Pain de Mie

I was worried about this recipe for several reasons. I don’t know if it was the French name (it’s white sandwich bread essentially) or the fact that I had to use a Pullman pan – which up until this recipe I had never heard of – but worried I was. Oh yeah. And the maths. There was lots of maths. (I know math doesn’t need an “s” at the end but it’s how I’m saying it. It’s more fun.) So as I’ve had to do with all of these recipes, I’ve needed to size the servings down. This one was the biggest conversion yet. The recipe as written in The Book yields 37 plus pounds of dough which is supposed to make 15 three-pound loaves of bread. Fifteen!! Up until this point, I’d been dividing my recipes by 4 and just seeing what happened. I certainly didn’t need to make that many loaves plus my stand mixer could never hold 20 pounds of flour! I realized I needed to think about this another way and started looking online. I did additional calculations by dividing by eight but then I wasn’t sure I wanted to deal with two loaves as I only have one pan. Decisions. I started reading about baker’s percentages and then finally clued in on how to use that information in The Book. It was right there all along.

A baker’s percentage is a way to calculate ingredient percentages based off total flour quantity. The flour is considered 100% and then everything else is a percentage. For example, my recipe called for 20 pounds 15 ounces (335 ounces) of flour. The amount of water required was 64.9% (13 pounds 10 ounces or 218 ounces). I converted the pounds to ounces so I could do the calculations more easily. So if the yield is 15 loaves but I only wanted one loaf, I decided to divide flour by 15 – so 335 ounces divided by 15 equals 22.33 ounces of flour. So 22.33 equals 100%. To calculate water percentage, I would take total flour ounces 22.33 and multiply by 64.9% resulting in 14.49 ounces of water. The way I’d been doing it was just dividing it by a number (in prior recipes, I was dividing by 4) and guessing. So, to compare methods, 1/15th of 218 ounces equals 14.53 ounces of water and the baker’s percentage showed 14.49%. Pretty darn close!! I’ve probably lost everyone by now, but learning this method was a game changer. I feel confident I can start tweaking all kinds of recipes.

Now, back to the bread. It was awesome. Truly. Absolutely delicious bread which I used for days – sandwiches, cinnamon toast, grilled cheese, French toast… it was great. Even my kid liked it which is insane as she hates bread. (I don’t know how anyone could hate bread, especially someone I birthed, but there she is.) I need to make loaves in bulk and freeze them for later use.

And so now that this post is almost two weeks behind, I’m just going to show what I did and you can decide what you think. I did skip the ballet class taste testers because I ran out of time. They were disappointed. I sent the hubs a picture via text and he said they were jealous. After eating a warm slice with butter, they really were right to be sad. They missed out.

Pullman loaf pan
Ready to start rising
Ready to bake, lid on

So there you have it – pretty great bread. Can’t wait to make it again.

Bonus Post – It’s the insomnia version

I can’t sleep so I might as well write a bonus post. Why do I keep hearing “it’s the insomnia, stupid” in my head? I know it’s “economy” and I know it was Clinton’s campaign (James Carville, strategist) but I hear it as George Bush junior. Weird.

I wanted to tell you guys about some additional things I baked the past couple of weeks.

Banana bread! If you’ve got bananas and fresh roasted pumpkin what can you make? Banana and pumpkin bread! Yum. I found a recipe online and followed it here and there. I added a little more moisture and out came a delicious loaf. My daughter was having her first sleepover and I wanted to bring a token of gratitude before I just dropped my lil pistol into their arms for an overnight. It was well received and thankfully moist though a bit underdone because I ran out of time. I’d make it again. Once I remember where I found that recipe, I’ll update this post in the comments section.

Oh. I also made some baked cinnamon sugar donuts. Whuuut?! Baked donuts? Shut the front door. I told my daughter they were churros donuts because she loves churros. Predictably she thought she had the incredible idea of me making them for her, but when they were done she refused to eat any. Not even a full bite. Just a lick or two. Truthfully I made these donuts because after seeing them on Facebook, I wanted to know what they tasted like. Good job, Sally of Sally’s Baking Addiction page that I follow. They are wonderfully moist and light. The sugar cinnamon flavor is such a great pairing. I think they taste better the second day! can’t wait to make them again with different glazes. Maybe even sprinkles.

Until next time I can’t sleep ….Ciao.

Recipes 5 and 6: Soft Roll Dough and Parker House Rolls

Well, it’s been a while since my last post. Life and a bit of laziness got in the way. But, I’m back to tell you all about the latest recipes from The Book I have completed – soft roll dough (Recipe 4) and Parker House rolls (Recipe 5). I decided they were best blogged about at the same time since the soft roll dough is the basis of the Parker House rolls. Soft dough roll is, from what I can ascertain, the basis of dinner rolls. It’s the first recipe that contains more than the basic water, flour, salt, and yeast. It also contains butter, milk, and egg. It’s springy, light, and delicious though I didn’t really know that until I made them. With soft roll dough I could guess – Parker House rolls I had know idea except they use the soft dough roll in the recipe. The only difference between the two? The soft dough roll recipe had an eggwash; the Parker House rolls were coated in clarified butter. I’d never made clarified butter either, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

First up, the soft dough recipe. To the stand mixer you add melted butter, egg, and milk, sugar, and salt, and then you add in the flour and instant yeast and let the mixer do it’s thing. The dough goes through the first rise (bulk fermentation) until it doubles roughly. Then there’s a preshaping stage where you mold the dough into a couple of rounds. They rest for about 20 minutes (essentially rise a little more) before you roll the next shape – small rounds which will rest again. See the video for how I did that. It may not be the right way, but it was the way I did it after reading the instructions and watching several videos online.

Finally, they are shaped into knots and do their final rise (proof) for about an hour. Sounds easy enough, right? I’d say the final shaping into knots was the hardest part. If I had to knead the dough by hand, then probably I’d say that but the mixer does all the work. Hard to explain on the shaping. Here are some shots of that process.

img_8650
First attempt at knots

For these, you do an egg wash on the tops of the knots after shaping and then after proofing to ensure they are nice and glossy after baking.

I took the rolls to the ballet class again and they were a huge hit. I’m starting to think those moms and dads are getting tired of me and my baked goods, like a love/hate thing. Time will tell. I don’t think Tommy the food critic was there for these. Soft. Buttery. Crisp. Light. Pretty awesome rolls that I would make again.

Now on to Parker House rolls. Honestly, I had no idea what these things were so I had to google. (Doesn’t take much to make me stop what I’m doing and jump on Google. I’m addicted. Remember encyclopedias? Dewey Decimal? These phones are the devil.) Anyway, Parker house rolls are soft, buttery dinner rolls with a crispy outside. Well, that’s how I interpreted the things after researching them for days. And I mean days. They originate from New England (Boston) in the 1870s. Apparently there was a hotel called the Parker House where it’s said that a chef/baker got into it with a hotel guest and upon returning to the kitchen was pissed and just threw rolls together and baked them hurriedly before he was quite done. They were a hit. (Don’t you just love happy accidents?)

Same recipe with a couple of changes in the preparation. 1. Shaping is different and includes rolling pin. 2. Clarified butter instead of egg wash. Did you know clarified butter is also known as ghee? I had no idea how to make it. Always seemed daunting but it’s really not. You boil butter on low (ok the word is simmer but you know what I mean) for about 45 minutes and let the milk solids float to the top. When times up, you then strain the boiled mixture through multiple cheesecloth layers. Believe it or not I had cheesecloth (beer maker husband) and butter. Easy peasy. I brushed the rolls with clarified butter before final rise and then again after baking for a delicious extra buttery taste. I don’t think they’re as pretty as they should be, but having never seen or made them from scratch, I’m ok with how they turned out. More than ok. Parker House rolls before baking

Before
Parker House rolls after baking
After

My stepmom is here for a visit and hung out with me while I made them. She seemed to like them. Oh yeah. She took a video, too. Here I am.

Alas, Tommy, my harshest food critic, was there for these. He did not like them. Honestly if I had to guess he didn’t like the butter flavor. Crazy, right? But hey, you’re talking to someone with a kid who doesn’t like cake or ice cream. I understand crazy. But yeah. Who doesn’t like butter? Tommy, that’s who. Meanwhile his dad ate both rolls. He didn’t seem to mind. The young, teen assistant dancer/teacher ate several. The others enjoyed them. I also enjoyed them for days after. Stale but if you cut and toast them? Omg. I’d say it wasn’t a total hit. Must do better for Tommy. I’ll try next time. White bread. For real. Sliced, white bread loaves. I’m a little freaked. Ever hear of a Pullman loaf pan? I’ll make sure to bring the toaster (not really).

Recipe 4. Durum Rosemary Bread

Finally, something different – an unfamiliar flour and herbs to mix up the bread making. I wasn’t sure what durum was so I did several internet searches until I had a better understanding – plus I had to search pretty hard to find exactly what I was looking for to order. Durum flour was tricky to find. What is durum flour? The word “durum” is from the Latin durus which means hard, hardship, harsh, stern. It’s the hardest of all wheats and is typically used in making pasta (durum semolina) and in some breads like this one. There’s a lot more to know about wheat variants and how wheat is processed, but this post is already delayed longer than I intended so I’ll save that for another post.

After tons of online searching, I settled on an online store called Breadtopia to purchase the durum flour I needed. The prices were reasonable and they mill the flour for you fresh when you order. I also bought a proofing basket (aka brotform) and a bread lame for scoring. I also bought a couche which is a linen canvas fabric used when making baguettes; you place the loaves on the couche while proofing to help hold the shape of the bread and to develop a nice skin (think crunch). I haven’t used it yet, but I’m sure it will come in handy at some point. (I laugh at the word couche though. I’m sure I’m not pronouncing it correctly.)

I opened the flour not quite sure what to expect. The flour was light yellow in color. I could see why it’s used in pasta. I weighed each ingredient and prepared my space. I prefer to have everything ready to go before I start doing anything especially with baking because often timing is critical in many baked goods. I used fresh rosemary from my garden plus some dried rosemary to make the required weight. Just a recommendation — get a scale and weigh ingredients. It’s just more precise. I’m not sure what took me so long to start weighing ingredients, but I’m sold now. Plus in my day job as a data analyst/report writer, I have to be pretty thorough. I’m just used to it. Baking is like writing SELECT queries. Methodical. Exact language is required or else your query fails. I swear it’s similar.

After my prepping the dough (KitchenAid stand mixer for the win), I let the dough do its first rise. It doubled nicely. After that, I followed the usual steps – preshape, rest, final shape, final rise, score, and bake. Pictures below.

Durum flour
Dough after dough hook kneading
Proofing basket (brotform) and shaped for final rise
Bread lame (without blade)
Scored and placed in oven
After the bake
Look at the inside! Perfect

The bread was hearty and lovely fresh from the oven and was awesome with butter and also dipped in olive oil, balsamic glaze, salt, and pepper. I had a friend over while I made the bread and she actually loved it. She wasn’t so sure because it’s not the type of bread she’d normally eat but after trying it she was impressed. I was able to get four loaves (my friend and I ate half of one). I experimented with the scoring and I think they came out pretty nice. A solid B effort which was not bad seeing as how I’m a novice to the whole thing.

I brought a loaf plus half of another one to my daughter’s dance class and the little boy from last week was there. He walked right up to me and asked me if I had bread. His dad, who was not there the week before and whom I’d never met, looked embarrassed. No need! Tommy is great. I just adore him and not because he loves my bread. I really admire how open he is, not afraid to try things. Honestly I didn’t think he’d like it because rosemary is such a strong flavor but he kept coming back for more (dad still mortified). All the other parents told me it was great, including the dance instructor, so as you can imagine I was floating on cloud nine. I felt like a baking super hero! Next time I’m wearing a cape and an apron! Tommy told me he decided after much thought that instead of a chef that he wanted to be a food critic because he was so good at it. I heart him. I sent him home with the rest of the loaf but told him he had to share with his mom and sister.

I gave a loaf to a neighbor and saved a loaf for my husband to try the next day. I decided to slice the remaining bread and make bruschetta. I toasted the bread and then cut up cherry tomatoes and avocados which I tossed with avocado oil, salt, garlic powder, pepper, dried and basil. I then drizzled a balsamic glaze on top.

Tomato and avocado bruschetta

Totally yummy and a great use of the day old bread. This recipe is a keeper. So easy. Next time I’ll use a mixture of herbs and see what happens.

Next recipe – soft roll dough. This will be a recipe that actually uses fats and egg wash. I’m looking forward to soft, delicious dinner rolls.

Recipe 3. Whole Wheat Lean Bread

Admittedly I wasn’t as excited about this week’s recipe – not sure why. Essentially this recipe is the same as the first lean bread recipe, but you add in whole wheat flour to the bread flour. It’s still the same basics with water, yeast, and salt. I decided though that I would use it more as an opportunity to practice shaping. I still have a lot to learn about that.

Everything went well but again, I made some minor mistakes. I left the dough sitting for over an hour and I was supposed to fold it after 30 minutes and then again after another 30 minutes with some additional time after that. It’s like I have selective reading skills sometimes. Not sure where I read that. Oops. I decided to keep going because I wanted to bring freshly baked bread to my daughter’s dance class and I didn’t have time to do it again. The dough had doubled in size and when I took the plastic wrap off, it looked like this:

Pretty cool, eh? I thought so. (Sorry for the choppy video quality.)

Then came the preshaping. For the life of me I can’t seem to get the shape right (must practice) so I just did the best I could. I decided to make two loaves. Here’s what that looked like and then again after the proofing stage.

You can see where I pinched the edges.

They look similar enough.

Given my time crunch and lack of shaping skills, everything looked ok so I went ahead to the scoring stage. You want to score the dough not just for decoration but to allow for expansion as the bread bakes. The tool of choice for bakers is called a lame pronounced “lahm.” It means “blade” in French apparently. It kind of looks like a razor on a stick. I don’t have one. Yet. I’m ordering one soon. You can use a very sharp knife and though the knife I used was sharp, I think maybe I shouldn’t have use the serrated one. Live and learn. I tried to get all fancy with alternating slits and cross crosses, but it looked a mess. Ok. Maybe that’s extreme, but I’m still learning so I give myself a pass. See for yourself.

You can see the serrated bumps in the dough.

I placed the loaves onto my pizza stone, added some water to an aluminum pan I have at the bottom of the stove to create steam, then let the oven and bread do its thing.

Just placed in oven

Success! And I finished just in time to take a loaf with me to my daughter’s dance class. I brought butter, too. Imagine their surprise when I brought in a freshly baked loaf of bread! It was a total hit. I felt so proud, especially when the six-year-old boy in the room (sibling of a girl in my kids dance class) asked me for several slices much to his mother’s embarrassment. She had no need to feel that way. I took it as a compliment. She said he was picky usually, but he sure did devour that bread. It was good. Not overly “wheaty” or dense. Perfectly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. I’d definitely make it again.

Finished product

Now I need to find durum flour for the next recipe – Durum rosemary bread. Now we’re talking! Even more unchartered territory.

Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts. -James Beard

Recipe 2. Bagels

img_8406Bagels. Who doesn’t love a good bagel? Chewy. Toasted. Slathered in cream cheese. I was pleased to find out that bagels were the second recipe in the book. I never thought in a million years I’d ever make bagels. I’d seen tutorials online and in books and thought it looked too involved… especially that water bath. For those of you who don’t know, bagels are a type of yeast bread that not only requires a rise and proofing, but also a “retarding” of the rise (slowing it down really) in the fridge for a time before dropping them into a pot of boiling water. It was that part that scared me – what if they fell apart in the water? What if I left them in there too long?

I ordered the high protein flour (bread flour) and the diastatic malt syrup (I settled on barley malt syrup) from a big online retailer who I shall not name and was ready to go. The recipe calls for high protein flour, instant yeast, water, and salt – much like the lean bread did – but it also needed the syrup. That is what helps with the color and fermentation – it provides sugar to feed the yeast and help with the rise. I ended up getting a non-diastatic malt syrup which simply means it did not contain active enzymes. Diastase: Any one of a group of enzymes that catalyses the breakdown of starch into maltose. (Source: Diastase page on Wikipedia.) I assumed the barley malt syrup would work given a quick search of online recipes. (As an interesting aside – at least I think so – the Hubs made beer over the weekend and he bought huge cans of barley malt syrup and amber malt syrup. Note to self: Beer supply stores may be where to get some of my supplies. Just saying.)

I had the day off last Friday so I had plenty of time to get started on my project. What a great day – I just did stuff around the house and took my time. I was asked a few times what was taking so long, but after reading the recipe I knew I had time plus I had figured out my measurements and weights.  While it wasn’t difficult per se, it was just involved and I imagine if you were kneading it by hand it would get tiresome. The cool thing about having a stand mixer though is you don’t have to do all that kneading. The mixer and the dough hook is a wonderful invention. Anyway, I got my ingredients together (mise en place or “everything in its place”) and went to work around 3pm. You combine the flour and the yeast in one bowl. You add the salt, water, and a little syrup to the mixer with the dough hook attachment. Then you add in the flour/yeast mixture until combined. Mix on low for four minutes and then medium for five minutes. That was it to get the dough. Super easy.

I think I read the lean dough recipe page by mistake because I put the dough in a lightly oiled glass bowl, covered it with plastic wrap, and walked away for half an hour so I could continue to watch Cable Girls. (If you haven’t seen this show on Netflix and you like mindless telenovela type stuff, this one is for you. It was a bit weird to get into at first since the version I have is dubbed but I got over that pretty quick. It takes place in 1929 so there are pretty people and costumes and scenery to look at which I feel makes it even easier to watch – even with the mouths not following the voices completely.) Anyhoo, I wasn’t supposed to do that. Oops. No matter. I then proceeded to weigh dough bits in 5 oz chunks. Uniformity is key. I let them sit for 10 minutes and then I rolled them as described in the book – roughly ten inches long and uniform and then you attach the ends to make a circle like this:

After shaping them, I covered them, put them in the fridge, and let them do their thing overnight. The recipe said a minimum of eight hours or overnight so I just figured we’d have fresh bagels Saturday morning. What a treat that would be!

Here they are after weighing and final shaping.

 

 

In the morning, I got up early because … well, if you have a four-year old you totally get why. They don’t sleep in unless it’s a school day. (Why is that,  hmmm?). I looked at my bagels and they had kept rising even in the fridge. The holes I made weren’t as big and in some cases, a few bagels looked like donuts. Note to self – next time I must leave more space.

After boiling some water with additional barley malt syrup, I placed the first bagel in the water and after 10 seconds, flipped it for 10 seconds more. I used a strainer to pull it out and shake off the excess water before putting it back on my cookie sheet. I followed suit with the others, though in a few cases I dipped the bagels in an ice water bath after the boil. That was supposed to produce a chewier bagel, but I was too lazy to separate them so I had no idea which ones had the ice bath or not. I then placed them into a 500 degree oven on top of a heated pizza stone. They sizzled when I placed them down – and stuck promptly. I got five of the six in the oven, deciding to leave the last one when I had some more room on the stone. I baked them for 25-30 minutes until they had some color. Some could have stayed in longer for more color but I was afraid of burning them.

In the end, it didn’t matter. I may have made a few missteps, but they were perfect. I was so elated. We sampled one while still warm with some butter – heavenly. I was giddy all day. Really feeling myself. I DID THIS. I MADE THESE. I CAN do what I set my mind to. Yay me. Join me next time for wheat lean bread. Definitely not as exciting as bagels, but hey, gotta learn to make wheat rolls and loaves, too.

 

“A bagel is a doughnut with the sin removed.” – George Rosenbaum

Recipe 1 – Lean Bread

I was excited and fearful all at once. It was time to get this project started and produce some lean bread, the first recipe in the textbook herein called The Book. Lean bread is basically crusty French bread. It contains only four ingredients – flour, water, yeast, and salt.

The Book lists large batch recipes. This one called for five pounds of flour. My mixer could never handle that. Plus, do I really need eight loaves of bread? The entire book is this way so I have an added challenge of having to shrink down all of the recipes. I decided to make two loaves. I must have spent an hour on my calculations. I had to look up conversions – pounds to ounces (1 lb equals 16 Oz), ounces to grams (1 ounce to 28.35 grams), etc. Sadly, I did not calculate correctly. The first batch did not rise and the finished product was a mess, undone and entirely too salty. Oops. The bread was under dome and just plain awful. Second batch was worse because I was trying to hurry it along but no rise and too salty. That figures because I didn’t adjust or taste the dough. Lesson learned. I was hoping I would have wonderful, fresh out of the oven bread to bring to the neighbor’s dinner party but alas, no. I was brave and let everyone try it. Hey, it’s ok. I expected failure because I’ve never made bread before, but it still stung.

I regret not taking a photo of the inside, but here are some from those batches.

On Sunday, I tried again. I admit I was starting to doubt my abilities after that second batch failed. I told my husband and he encouraged me not to give up and look at different recipes like I was thinking to do. But, my husband reminded me that I could do this and he sat with me and helped me recalculate the measurements. He also brought out a scale he had that performed exactly as I needed – .1875 ounces, really? I am so appreciative of the support because this is a big project and undertaking and I need a cheerleader. I decided then and there I would make it as many times as it took to produce something edible. And guess what? Third time’s a charm. Yay me!

Was it perfect? No it wasn’t perfect – I had trouble with the preshaping and final shaping of the loaves. I opted to freestyle and thankfully it worked. I got the rise I was expecting and it was just… fun. I was so proud. Giddy. I felt like I just climbed a mountain. Well I imagine that’s how I would feel if I ever climbed a mountain which I have not but hey, I did it. Here are some pics from my third attempt.

I’m ready to make bagels on Friday. I ordered the ingredients on Amazon and got them on the weekend. I will spend that day making the dough and watching Cable Girls on Netflix, my new favorite binge. Hopefully we will have yummy delicious bagel treats on Saturday morning. It’s also possible that I’ll have another fail or three and have to redo it but this time I’m ready. This is an adventure after all and I need to enjoy the journey.

“Let there be work, bread, water, and salt for all.” Nelson Mandela