Yiddish bagels

Last summer the bagel-making project went off the boil when the spring term ended and, with it, access to my hungriest taste tasters. Without them, I was making a dozen bagels a week mostly for myself, and that’s just a bit more than I can consume. And without school, I had increased parenting responsibilities and no fewer work responsibilities. I didn’t always have the time to make the bagels; if I did have the time, I often lacked the energy. So I set the bagels aside for the summer and figured I’d get back to them when school resumed in the fall.

When school started I was still pretty busy, and I just never got bagels back into my schedule again. (I was baking challah every week, and modifying those recipes like crazy, but we can talk about that later.)

But today I had time, so I’m back in the bagel game. I’ve also figured out a way to carve out a bit extra baking time, even during the hectic youth basketball season. Let’s get back to the bagels.


January 15, 2017

I can’t find the notebook I used last year to draft my bagel related blog posts and document my recipes and their variations. Normally this would stop me in my tracks, and I would spend so much time tearing the house apart in search of the notebook that I wouldn’t have enough time to make any bagels. So I’m writing this on a loose sheet of copy paper for now. If I find the notebook WHEN I find the notebook I will insert it at the appropriate place.

I paid a quick visit to a local, independent bookstore just before New Year’s Eve, and I almost walked out with a volume of the best food writing of 2016. Then I saw Yiddish Cuisine: Authentic and Delicious Jewish Recipes by Florence Kahn, and I asked myself, Do you want to read food writing or learn to make bagels? Kahn’s book did include a bagel recipe, so the food writing book stayed on the shelf to tempt another reader.

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The photography in this book was one of the biggest draws for me, and the story really focused on the history of the area in Paris where the author has her Yiddish restaurant. Yes, a Yiddish restaurant in Paris. Just the thought of it made me smile, and I hope to return to Paris and visit it some day. Until then, I have some really interesting recipes to try, including “Matzagna” and some savory cheesecakes. The “breads” chapter is slim — just bagels, blinis, and pletzels even though baguettes and challah are pictured inside and outside the book, which is a bit misleading — but since I would like to try making all of these things I did not count that as a drawback.

However, when the book popped up as one of my Amazon.com recommendations, I decided to take a look at the reviews. There was only one, and it was negative. It may seem unfair that someone who didn’t make any of the recipes gave the cookbook a negative review, but I think his rating reflects his disappointment in the fact that, after he had the book, he took a closer look and realized that the recipes themselves just didn’t appeal to him. And I think that’s a fair reason for a low rating: he felt that the book promised him more than it delivered. I certainly like the book for than the reviewer did, but I have my own issues with it. If I end up writing my own review, it will be on the basis of the recipes I’ve tried; at this point I cannot think of the book as a disappointment.

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Everything I needed (almost).

The recipe
Kahn’s bagel recipe listed only seven ingredients, including water, and at first glance it looked very simple. The more time I spent reading and re-reading it, though, the more I realized that it might present some serious challenges for me to make.

Process: Kahn uses a food processor, which means that for this recipe the only procedure is to put all the ingredients (except the yeast) into one, later adding the yeast as well. I do have a lot of devices and appliances in my kitchen, but one item I have never owned is a food processor. I just don’t think it’s a worthwhile investment for me, as I rarely use recipes that call for one. So right away, I knew I would have to look at all the ingredients in the list and figure out how to combine them in a more traditional way.

Yeast: The type of yeast Kahn uses is baker’s yeast, which is a moist cake rather than the packets of dried yeast I am accustomed to using. I have seen baker’s yeast available at one or two of the grocery stores at which I shop, but it’s certainly not at the closest ones. The change of yeast type entailed another change of procedure: I would have to add more water to the recipe. But how much more?

Flour: The recipe states to use “7 cups of flour.” Well, what kind of flour? There are myriad options, and some clarification would have been appreciated. But a little deductive thinking led me to believe that if she had meant whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour, bread flour, rye flour, or anything other than good ol’ all-purpose flour, she would have said so. All-purposed unbleached it would be, and I was fortunate to have about 7.25 cups ready from a single brand.

I had other, minor, concerns about the ingredients list. One of the items was sunflower oil. I actually had a bottle of sunflower oil already, but I purchased it about 3 years ago and was not sure of its usability. On the other hand, she must have called for sunflower oil for a reason, so I used it. Another change I made was for the egg wash. The recipe makes 10 bagels, and the suggested wash was two whole eggs. That seemed like a rather extreme amount of cholesterol to apply to such a small batch of carbohydrates. Instead, I used about one egg’s worth of egg white, as I have been doing for my challah.

The recipe also had a major difference from almost all of the bagel recipes I baked last year: the dough had neither a rising time or a boiling time. Apparently I was just supposed to throw everything into the food processor, take the dough out, form bagels, and bake them. It seemed like a strange way to make yeasted bread, but there was no reason not to follow the instructions (well, my modified ones) and see what happened.

The process
Because of the change in the yeast, the process was changed from the start. I began by warming a half cup of filtered water, and adding the yeast and a small amount of the sugar to make a little slurry and activate the yeast.

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Yeast, warm water, and a (table)spoonful of sugar.

After letting it get a five-minute or so head start, I added the liquid ingredients — the sunflower oil and the eggs. Meanwhile, the oven was preheating to 375°F.

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Yeast mixture, oil, and eggs.

Next I added the dry ingredients, which I had already measured out. Salt, the rest of the sugar, and the flour, one cup at a time.

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Two cups of flour….
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Four cups of flour….
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…all seven cups.

The mixture was definitely too dry to come together as a dough, so I started warming water and adding it to the dough in half-cup batches. After the third addition of water, the dough was finally workable. In fact, it was quite a bit sticky and I needed to add a dusting of flour to get everything to come out even. So I wound up using two cups of water in a recipe that had originally called for 2-1/2 tablespoons.

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…plus 1.5 cups of warm water.
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After hydrotherapy and ready for a massage.

I kneaded the dough for a minute or two, but didn’t want to overwork it. I divided the dough into twelve portions, as equally as possible, then started forming bagels.

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Bagels in progress.

Before preheating the oven, I had moved the racks so that I would be able to put in two cookie sheets at a time. Because I was concerned about the lack of rising time, however, I decided to bake the bagels in two batches of six, letting the second batch rise during the 22 minutes the first batch was in the oven.

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Batch One, before baking.

I also decided to focus on the bagels themselves and not worry about adding toppings. I had made plenty of changes already — perhaps too many — and wanted to focus on the taste and texture without being distracted by other qualities.

The first batch came out rather pale overall, with only a few browned spots. They had the strained, textured look of some other bagels I had made last year, but they seemed to be cooked through.

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Batch One, after baking.

By that time, the second batch had rested and puffed up a bit, filling out in a way the first batch wasn’t able to do. After baking for the same 22 minutes, they looked just as pale as the first batch when I took them out of the oven. I think you can see for yourself that they were more handsome.

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Batch Two (foreground).

Results
When the first batch came out, my family testers all said, “I want a bagel! I’m glad you made bagels!” In the end, nobody chose a bagel from the first batch — the second batch just looked so much better.

Bagels from each batch sliced easily with the use of the bagel guillotine, but the difference in internal structure was easy to see. First-batch bagels contained streaks of what looked like (but probably was not) uncooked dough.

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Batch One, interior.
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Batch Two, interior.

The bagels were eaten plain, toasted with butter, toasted with cream cheese, and toasted with honey. The taste was fine, but nothing special. However, I have changed the recipe so much that it can’t be judged on its own terms. I may have to use the baker’s yeast in order to bring the recipe back closer to its origins, and maybe that will also allay my concerns about the lack of rising time for the dough.

The recipe is definitely not a traditional bagel recipe, and it wasn’t written for beginning home cooks. Instructions are unclear, confusing, and even contradictory; there is absolutely no attention given to substitutions or answering any questions a home baker might have. You’re pretty much on your own as to how you are supposed to travel from the ingredient list to the beautiful photos of finished bagels. But really, I don’t think the author wrote the book to hold my hand. I think Kahn is proud of her restaurant and is showing it off, and she’s sharing a few (but definitely not all) of the recipes her customers most enjoy. I can’t find fault with her motives for writing the kind of book that she did. I reserve the right to change my mind if I never manage to make a bagel like the one in the pictures, but never is a long time. For now, I’ll keep plugging away at it.

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Week 21: What, these things again?

These bagels were made on May 23.

I wasn’t thrilled with the Joy of Cooking bagels, but I was committed to my plan of staying with the same recipe for the whole month. I did think about making alterations to the recipe to make them more “bagel like,” but that made me wonder what the point would be of using different recipes if I wound up changing each new one I wasn’t fond of to be another copy of the old one I liked better. By the time I realized I’d gone off on such a tangent, there wasn’t time to change the recipe anyway. However, I did decide to apply some toppings to this batch, as you will see later.

To compensate for my lack of enthusiasm I decided to somewhat overdocument the bagel making process. It’s difficult to take pictures of certain parts of the process, such as kneading the dough, but I did what I could. If my words describing this week’s batch are a bit sparse, think of this as more of a photo essay. (Future Beth: “Believe me, I’ll have a lot less to say about next week’s bagels.” Wink wink, nudge nudge, SAY NO MORE.)

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Milk, butter, and yeast.

 

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Milk, butter, yeast, and eggs.

 

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Eggs, incorporated.

 

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With one cup of flour added.

 

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With two cups of flour….

 

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With three cups….

 

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Four cups. I’m using the position of the wooden spoon in the bowl to indicate how many cups of flour I have added to the dough. It’s easy to lose track, which would be bad.

 

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Before the rise time.

 

This dough really is an easy one to work with. I have no complaints with that! I just wish that it made better bagels than it does.

 

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After the rise time.

 

Did I mention that I recently bought a new deep skillet just for the bagels? Hamilton Beach calls it a “chicken fryer” but that’s only because they don’t realize it’s perfect for making bagels at home. They should call it a “bagel boiler.” I will write in a future blog post about some of the “new stuff” I’ve been acquiring during this bagel project. Anyway, here’s the brand-stinkin’-new skillet:

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Ah, yes. This was also the week that I got sick and tired of my bagel joins looking dorky and/or falling apart in the boil. So this week I chopped the dough into 16 roughly equivalent portions, rolled them into balls, and did the whole “stick in your thumb and twirl the dough around until it looks like a bagel” thing.

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For anyone who went to summer camp: There’s a hole in the middle of the dough, there’s a hole in the middle of the dough. There’s a hole in the middle, there’s a hole in the middle, there’s a hole in the middle of the dough.

 

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After a 30 minute rise on the tea towel.

 

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Hey, it works!

 

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Left to right: Sesame seed, plain, Mural of Flavor, plain.

 

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If there’s ever a local play that needs prop bagels for their production — it could happen; I have two typewriters who were under the lights in the Watertown High School production of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” some years ago — just call me up and I (or you) will make a batch of these. They look amazingly like real, authentic bagels. It’s just that they taste like white bread with bagel toppings stuck on them. Come on, bagels. You can do better than this!

 

 

 

Week 20: The Joy of Bagels

These bagels were made on May 15.

This week’s bagel kicks off a journey into some odd territory: recipes not from bread books, nor from bagel books, but from what I will call Standard Cookbooks of the American Midwest. It’s from Joy of Cooking, which is not a cookbook I knew when I was growing up. But after I got married and figured it was time to learn how to cook, I started looking around at upscale cookbooks. Most of their authors eventually referenced Joy, so I bought my own copy (before the revised edition that came out around 1998). It certainly is a comprehensive labor of love, and it covers most anything you would need to make in a kitchen, from cocktails to chocolate cake and any kind of meat in between. It contains no superfluous illustrations, so the introductory paragraphs for the recipes and the sections stand out a bit more, especially when they contain amusing anecdotes.

Joy of Cooking is a classic, and a handy book, but should you turn to it to learn how to make a bagel? Well, the jury’s still out.

This recipe looked a bit odd from the start: the first four ingredients were scalded milk, butter, sugar, and salt. Son One was helping out with the bagel prep this time. He eyed the saucepan and asked pointedly, “Why are you heating up milk?”

Well, because the recipe says so, that’s why. This weekend we’re following the recipe as closely as we can and hoping that we don’t end up like a trusting elderly couple who follow the voice of their GPS unit and drive straight into a lake. Scald milk? Sure! Add butter? If you say so! Son One commented, “It smells like we’re making macaroni and cheese.”

The next step was to add a packet of yeast to the warm milk mixture. The milk was hotter than the recommended temperature range when I took it off the stove, but adding the butter cooled it to below the range. No matter — I just let the yeast hang out there a little longer and keep developing.

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Actually, after adding two eggs and a few cups of flour to the batter I had, it all developed into a picture-perfect bread dough that was wonderful to knead for ten minutes. A few sprinklings of flour — unbleached all-purpose in this case — were all that was needed to rid it of stickiness.

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Next, the dough was left to rise, covered, until it had doubled in size. I didn’t know how long that would take, and I was dividing my time between bagels and watching qualifying sessions for the Spanish Grand Prix, so I set a timer for 30 minutes since that was the typical rest time for the other bagel recipes.

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At the end of thirty minutes’ time, I hopped back into the kitchen…to discover that I had a nicely developed ball of dough to work with, and that I had completely neglected to start the water boiling. I got the water going, checked the recipe, and noticed that the formed bagels were supposed to rest for fifteen minutes before hitting the water. That was plenty of time for the water to come to the boil, right?

Well, it wasn’t, actually, but I don’t think it did the bagels much harm to wait a bit longer (even if they weren’t technically bagels yet). Anyway, the recipe said that I would be making 18 bagels from this dough. While 18 is a special number indeed, it’s not easy for me to bake 18 bagels, as two half-sheet pans won’t fit in my oven, and staggering the baking sheets and switching racks forces me to open the oven more often than I’d like during the baking time, losing a lot of the valuable 400°F heat and doing goodness knows what to the texture of the bagels.

Plus, how do you divide dough into 18 equal portions? Without a great deal more experience and a very good scale — and my scale recently went to scale heaven (Toledo, Ohio?) — I can’t. But here’s how I tried to make 16 equal portions:

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Ah, fractions. Is there anything they can’t do?

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The bagels rose for a while as the water in my stock pot came up to the boil. When that water, supplemented with a tablespoon of sugar, was ready, it was really ready.

I slipped bagels in two at a time, then flipped them and slipped in two more. After three minutes had passed, I took the first set out, flipped the second set, and put two more bagels in the water. They plumped up very well except for a straggler that will be obvious in a later photo.

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Fitting all the bagels on a single sheet was a bit of a challenge. Thank goodness I spent what seemed like years of my college “career” playing Tetris on an IBM PC. Quick, quick, the boss is coming!

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I baked the bagels for 25 minutes, the high end of the time the recipe suggested. In the end they looked a little fluffy, and that may have been because they were so close together that they steamed themselves. They only developed a crispy crust right on their tops. Really, I didn’t give them anywhere else to go.

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While the recipe was fairly easy to follow, the ingredients were easy to find, and the dough was exceptionally easy to work with, these bagels were evidence that taking the “easy” way doesn’t really produce what I would call a bagel of character. The texture was fluffy rather than chewy, the all-purpose flour didn’t provide much flavor (even with the inclusion of two eggs in the dough), and there was nothing special about them in general.

On the other hand, I took most of them to work and they were soon gobbled up. Nobody complained. If you make the perfect bagel and nobody eats it, is it still a bagel?

Week 19: Back on the Bagel Wagon

This weekend I started baking again, but I started with easy things: cookies whose recipes I know almost by heart, and a cake made from a box mix and frosted with prepared chocolate frosting. But at the end of the day — Sunday, to be specific — I wished I had been able to make bagels, too, and I also realized that I hadn’t made the Friday challah on the first chance I’d had to make the challah. It was time to start the real baking again.

To make it easier on myself, I decided to make the cheese-topped bagels from Week 9, using the bread machine. I had to do quite a bit of searching in my bagel notebook to find that I baked them for 22-25 minutes at 350°F. You know, I think I’d better write that down somewhere.

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I didn’t change anything else in the recipe — that I know of — but quite a bit of the flour didn’t get incorporated into the bread dough. Bits of dough also clumped up against the good parts of the dough, and I would up throwing away more dough than I wanted to. But after a 20 minute rise while the water came to a fast boil, the resulting rings behaved very well.

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Before a 20 minute rise.

 

I formed ten bagels from the recipe, and topped six with a blend of three Italian cheeses. I left four of the bagels plain except for the egg-white wash.

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Ready for baking.

 

I took the bagels out of the oven after 22 minutes, and they looked beautiful — if a little pale. But when I actually touched one, it felt fluffy and undercooked. Back on the sheet and back into the oven they all went, for three more minutes. I had to hope that the extra time wouldn’t turn the shredded cheese to ash.

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The bagels after 22 minutes.

 

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The same bagels after 25 minutes.

 

Maybe I’ll try a new recipe later this week. For now, I’m just happy to have fresh bagels in the house again. And I already have cream cheese at work.

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Week 18: Unfrozen

This past weekend was another weekend when I did not expect to be making bagels, for a combination of reasons. First, it was the end of Passover; as this is my first time paying closer attention to the Jewish seasons and holidays, I wasn’t sure when it actually ended and therefore I didn’t know what it would be appropriate for me to be baking. To be safe, I wasn’t planning to bake anything. Second, I had a minor medical procedure scheduled for Friday morning, and I wasn’t sure how my recovery would progress over the weekend.

As it turned out, my recovery is going well but it does require me to be much more gentle with myself than I had expected. It takes a certain amount of my attention to make sure I stay on schedule with the medicine that’s managing my pain. It’s also taking more energy than I thought it would to perform even passive activities such as reading and watching television. Walking the dog, doing the laundry, and driving the car sap my energy very quickly. I am someone who thinks wistfully of naps from time to time but rarely takes one. This weekend I spent more time sleeping and napping than I thought was possible for a basically healthy person.

By Sunday afternoon I realized that it would not be a good idea for me to bake bagels. In fact, even the fatigue that would be brought on by a search for the May bagel master recipe might be enough to make me call in “sleepy” to work on Monday. Fortunately, May has four more Sundays for me to get back into the rhythm of regular bagel-making. Even more fortunately, I had stashed some bagels in the freezer a few weeks ago. Today was a great day to thaw them out and see how freezing and thawing might have affected their texture and flavor.

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I didn’t label the bagels when I bagged and froze them (bad baker! bad baker!), but it didn’t take long to figure out that they were from Week 11, the first batch of Fox Point bagels. Wait, a few weeks ago? More like seven weeks ago. That might not be a significant amount of freezer time for commercially produced bagels, but for homemade bagels that don’t contain any kind of preservatives, it might make a difference.

I moved the bag o’ bagels from freezer to fridge sometime this morning, and checked on them from time to time throughout the day. By 9pm they seemed to have thawed enough to slice.

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They looked good, but felt dense and dry. And as I suspected, that’s exactly what the freezer time had done to them.

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Don’t get me wrong, I toasted it up and slathered it with light cream cheese and ate it. But it was still rather dry.

The next time I freeze bagels, I’ll do a few things differently:

  • slice them first
  • put a date on the freezer bag
  • make sure I use them within a couple of weeks

Lesson learned. Onward to next week and a new bagel recipe!

Week 17: Unleavened bagel

I hadn’t planned to make bagels last week. Instead, I was packing away my yeast and flour for the week, cleaning the house, and reading about Passover. Then, in Seasons of Our Joy: A Modern Guide to the Jewish Holidays by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, I noticed a recipe titled simply, “Unleavened bagel.”

Nobody I knew was expecting to get bagels from me last week, so I had nothing to lose by trying out the recipe. One of my testers, however, familiar with what ‘unleavened’ might be code for, was prepared to lose a tooth on the test bagels. (I’m pleased to report that he still has the same number of teeth post-Passover that he had before the holiday.)

This recipe may be the oddest recipe I have ever seen for bread. The ingredient list is a puzzler in its own right, but by the time I got to the instructions I was thinking, “You want me to do what? And then I’m supposed to do WHAT?”

You begin by combining water, butter (or chicken fat!), sugar, and salt on the stovetop, then bringing the mixture to a boil. Then you add matzo meal and “continue to boil” for a bit. Off-heat, you add in four eggs.

This is all easier said than done, especially the part about boiling what you have just turned into a paste, but I did the best that I could. And even after you add four eggs, you still have a substance reminiscent of wallpaper paste (though gently and pleasantly fragrant).

After coating your hands with water — or shortening — you’re supposed to roll 2-inch balls of the batter and drop them onto a greased baking sheet. Again, this is easier said than done. I ended up using a silicon spatula to scoop out a quantity of batter that looked as if it might roll into a 2-inch ball. The amount of batter I had was enough for 9 balls, and I could only hope I had them spaced on the baking sheet so that they wouldn’t interfere with each other. And just before baking, I was to poke a hole in the center of each ball with a wet or greased finger, “or omit and use as rolls.”

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What the heck. I poked them.

The baking stage was no less unusual. First, you bake the bagels for 20 minutes in a preheated 425°F oven. Then you reduce the heat to 375°F and bake them for another 25 minutes. Then you turn off the heat, leave the oven door ajar, and let the bagels cool in the oven.

I sure am glad that I did not have to work out the details of the baking stage for myself!

When the baking was done, I was worried that the bagels would be bricks that were mortared to the baking sheet. I took a spatula to one, and was happy to find that not only did it release readily from the baking sheet, it was light and airy.

In fact, the texture of the bagels was similar to that of a particularly light English muffin. I had been planning to use the bagel guillotine for slicing them, but I felt now that the blade would crush these delicate baked goods. Instead, I sliced them by hand using a steak knife.

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My taster was very pleasantly surprised with his bagels, and when I left them out at work to share, they disappeared quickly. I enjoyed mine, everyone else seemed to enjoy theirs, and I will definitely make them next year at Passover.

Week 16: Cinnamon Sugar Whole Wheat Bagels

This weekend I took on the challenge of making a whole wheat bagel with a cinnamon-sugar flavor. I didn’t want to make a sweet dough or turn out a bagel-shaped cinnamon roll; I wasn’t sure at first whether I wanted to put cinnamon and sugar directly in the dough, or just use it as a topping on an otherwise plain bagel. In the end, I compromised and put one inside, one outside.

The current recipe seems to max out at 6 cups of whole wheat flour (even though it calls for 7!), so I started with 5.5 cups, knowing that I would be adding extra dry ingredients. As far as the amount of cinnamon was concerned, I took a shot in the dark and decided to use 2 teaspoons. I used the Penzeys Indonesian Cinnamon because the label recommended it for all kinds of baking.

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Warm water, yeast, honey, oil, salt, and cinnamon.

I decided to incorporate the cinnamon into the dough because I thought that if it might taste bitter or burnt if it were only a topping. I didn’t want the bagels to have a harsh taste.

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…and eggs.

Using only 5.5 cups of flour, the dough was still rather sticky. I added flour as needed to reduce the stickiness, but I doubt that it would have added up to half a cup. I would like to be able to be more precise about this, but yeast breads in general often need adjustments in the proportions of their ingredients in order to deal with conditions like humidity or cold. As my kids might say, it’s just a bread thing and you have to deal with it. Cookies generally come out the same way every time when you do the same procedures with the same ingredients. But they’re not bread. They’re just cookies. With yeast bread, you have to follow its lead and give it what it needs to do well. Sometimes you guess correctly, and sometimes you hear the harsh buzzer and have to leave the set with the home version and a year’s supply of Rice-a-Roni or a case of Turtle Wax. That’s just how it goes. (That’s also why the Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book has a chapter called “How to Slice a Brick.”) But the more bread you bake, the better you get at guessing.

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Ready for a 30 minute rise.

 

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After the rise. The dough has expanded and smoothed out on the surface.

Again this week, I made 12 bagels from the dough. After a few weeks of pasting the bagels to the baking sheet with the hardened egg wash, I’ve developed an alternative procedure: form the bagel and let it rest on a cotton kitchen towel, drop it upside-down in the boil water, flip it, return it to the towel to let it dry, give it an egg wash, then put it on a baking sheet that has a coating of nonstick cooking spray.

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These bagels felt almost fluffy as I was forming them and dropping them into the boiling water. I was concerned that a whole wheat bagel would be dense and tough, but this didn’t seem to be the case.

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I gave the bagels their egg-white glaze while they were cooling on the towel, then sprinkled 8 of the 12 with Penzeys Vanilla Sugar before transferring them to the baking sheet. I was sure that I would be able to tell which ones had been sprinkled with vanilla sugar….

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…but I couldn’t. I suppose I thought that the sugar-coated bagels would sparkle like third-rate vampires, but they really didn’t.

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The bagels I sampled had a subtle cinnamon flavor and a hint of sugar. We’ll see what my tasters have to say this week.

Next weekend is the beginning of Passover. Though I am not Jewish, I have (since the beginning of 5776) been challenging myself to see if I could live according to the Jewish dietary laws. And Passover dictates that absolutely no yeast be used. I won’t be banishing leavening agents from my house, “selling” them to Gentile neighbors, or hosting a seder, but I will be switching from bagels to macaroons for a week. Instead of baking bagels I may be reading about bread or evaluating a food memoir. Whatever I do, I’ll try to stay on schedule and hope that you’ll still be interested in reading what I’m writing.