Sunday, July 13, 2008

Recipe Sunday

So it's been a long-ish week in my life. Lots of excitement followed by some actual hard work that was much less fun than I had hoped it would be, and now I am staring down the big gay event with less volunteers than I had anticipated. Well, shit.

Sounds like time for some recipe-sharing. Earlier this year, a local caterer named Cas fell and broke her leg and was out of commission for quite a while. After several weeks, she was able to hobble around on crutches, but sill could not stand for hours at her work station and cook. So she hired me to help out. Just a little bit, nothing much, a few hours here and there. In the process, I learned how to make bagels, a gift I will treasure forever. I did not understand how wonderful a bagel could be until I ate one fresh from the oven, spread with cream cheese that then gets all gooey and melty and wonderful. It is truly a wonderful thing to experience.

So, I know how to make plain bagels and put stuff on them - poppy seeds, sesame seeds, etc. But then I went home and began to experiment. I have historically been afraid of recipes that call for yeast. I remember hearing tales of meals gone terribly awry because the yeast did not behave as it was supposed. But this bagel thing seemed to be pretty easy.

I have a couple of cookbooks for my bread machine, and they have lots of good recipes. I particularly like the ones for pumpernickel bread. I love the tangy bite of the rye flour, the cider vinegar, the caraway, and the secret ingredients (cocoa powder and instant coffee) that give it the rich, dark color. Yum.

Well, says I, why can't I take the pumpernickel recipe from the book and make bagels with it? Why not indeed. I fiddled with the math a little bit, made some adjustments to the ingredients to work with the right proportions to get the right results, and voila! I have to-die-for-pumpernickel bagels. Here's the scoop:

Pumpernickel Bagels

2 cups hot (from the tap, not boiling)water
4 teaspoons dry yeast

3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 1/2 tablespoons dark corn syrup
3 tablespoons butter, cut into small chunks

1 1/2 cup rye flour
4 1/2 cup bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
5 teaspoons brown sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons instant coffee (I use decaf)
4 Tablespoons caraway seeds

1 egg, slightly scrambled (for a wash)

Put the yeast into the hot water, stir gently and let get acquainted for 5 minutes.

Mix the vinegar, corn syrup and butter in a small dish and set aside.

Put the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with a bread hook and mix gently.

After five minutes and when the yeast and water are doing their thing (bubbles going up, stuff cascading down, not unlike Guinness, but in a very anemic color), start the mixer on a slow speed and pour in the water and yeast, followed by the vinegar, corn syrup and butter, and mix around until the dough forms into a single ball around the bread hook. I sometimes have to add a little extra water to make this happen.

Turn out into an OILED bowl, wrap loosely in a plastic grocery bag and let rise for an hour in a warm (but not hot) space.

While you are waiting, fill a four-quart pan with tap water and set on the stove to warm. About 5 minutes before the hour is up, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

After the timer dings, turn the water up to make it boil and turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead a few times. Form the dough into a roll and cut into fourths, and then cut the fourths into thirds. Roll each of the little lumps of dough into a snake about 8 to 10 inches long, form into a circle, dab one of the ends with water and stick them together to form a ring. Set aside.

Once the bagels are all formed, turn your attention to the stove. Gently place the bagels, three or four at a time, into the boiling water. (A gentle boil is the goal here, not rolling, and not a simmer or poach.) poke gently with a wooden spoon to keep them from sticking to the bottom. After they rise to the surface, wait 30 to 60 seconds and gently turn them over to cook for another 30 to 60 seconds. Remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and place on a cooling rack to dry. Repeat until all the bagels have had their baths.

Next, take two cookie sheets and line with parchment (or grease them). Place six bagels on each and brush with the scrambled egg.

Place in the oven and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes depending on your oven and the usual variables. You're looking for a shiny, brown (but not burned) top that feels hard and sounds hollow when tapped.

Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Store in an airtight container. They freeze really well, too.

Makes 12 5 =/- ounce bagels.

Now I am off to mow the yard.

No comments: