Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Baking Bagels Part III

Yes, I am on a baking kick. I'm also experimenting. Fortunately, we get to eat most of the experiments and none, yet, have tried to take over Colorado.

So I exchanged my new bagel ingredients for those in AB5M, and tossed in a few of the techniques mentioned in the BBF as I threatened to here. The results were mixed.

The dough is very moist, as it is supposed to be for longer term storage in the refrigerator, so I threw a lot of flour over the balls in order to shape them into bagels after the resting phase. I substituted 2 lbs of high gluten flour for bread flour and about 1 1/2 tbsp of barley malt syrup for the sugar. I didn't bother putting sugar or baking soda in the boiling water, since Cook's Illustrated never mentioned a need for it, and shorted the boiling time to 30 seconds total. That helped to keep the surface from being quite as lumpy and gummy, so that was good. I also used 4 oz pieces of dough for bagels, instead of the 3 oz mentioned in AB5M. Three ounces is just too small.

Rising dough, coated in sesame seeds.

The bagels are still quite lumpy, even after all of those changes, but they were a lot smoother than the first time I had made them. Also, I took good care to make sure those holes were really big before I tossed the ring into the water.

Finished bagels.

I found that by barely handling the dough at all, just enough to make the hole, the bagels were a lot smoother, more like the ideal. I also cranked up the heat in the oven to 450 degrees and baked them on a pair of cookie sheets lined with Silpat. No cornmeal or pizza stone required.

Comparison shot of 1st batch AB5M (top), 2nd batch CI (right) and 3rd batch hybrid (left).

Inside, there is still a distinct difference in the crumb. The CI batch is denser and chewier, but the hybrid batch isn't too far off.

Crumb comparison.

The difference really is in the taste, which can't be pictured here perfectly, but Emma says she'll try.
"I approves dis bagull. Nom!"

Personally, while I thought it was good enough, it's not necessarily good enough for me to make it on a regular basis. I figure now that I have the syrup and the high gluten flour, I can take the extra hour and make bagels that I know I'm really going to love and accept that AB5M can't be all things to all people. The rest of the recipes I've made so far I've really enjoyed (Boule, Italian Semolina, light wheat, Kimball's wheat, European Peasant and just today: deli-style rye*) and it has encouraged me to try making bagels which I had never bothered to try previously, so win all around!

Next up: oatmeal bread!

* Yum! And I don't normally like caraway seeds! I suspect a Reuben sandwich may be in my semi-near future.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Baking Bagels Part II

Oh yes I did!

As good as my word, I put together the bagel dough from the Big Book O' Food last night and was never so glad I had a Kitchenaid mixer. They weren't kidding, that dough is stiff!

It was pretty easy to do, but time intensive. Mix the dough, roll it into balls and let them rest.

Roll the balls into ropes.

Form them into bagels.

Let 'em rise in the fridge over night.

After a night of retarding in the fridge (I love learning new baking terms!), they looked like this (A little puffier.):

Then it was time for boiling and draining and coating them in a topping (A little more puffy after boiling. I coated them in three flavors: kosher salt, sesame seed and onion).

Finally, it was time to bake!

They look gorgeous!

Comparison shot.

Too bad there's only 8 of them!

In a couple more days, I will try the AB5M recipe, substituting the high gluten flour and barley malt syrup and see how it does. Now, I must go taste test one of my fresh bagels! (I wrote this while waiting for them to cool.)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Baking Bagels

In the course of making bread from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, I stumbled upon their recipe for bagels.*

Rising balls of proto-bagels.

Bagels, I thought. If I could make bagels easily, that'd really be something!
Boiling the proto-bagels.

Yesterday I made the dough and today I tried it out.
Drying off.

As yummy as they were, they're not bagels. They're sort of like a crunchy English muffin. Yummy, but definitely not a bagel. Growing up in NY, I know what a bagel is supposed to be and I rather miss them.
Finished "bagels". You really do need to make those holes BIG!

So I broke out the Big Book O' Food (aka The New Best Recipe Book by Cook's Illustrated) and had a look at their bagel recipe. Hmm. High gluten flour and malt syrup and slow rising in the refrigerator. Hmmm.

Now I have a plan: I'm going to try the recipe as written in the Big Book and then I'll try it again in AB5M, using the high gluten flour and malt syrup and then I'll see how it goes. If it's just about as good using the simpler methods, I'll stick with that. If it's still nothing like a bagel, I may either stick to the Big Book method (good but labor intensive) or I'll...[Gasp!] continue to buy bagels.

Wish me luck!

* In case you're wondering where the heck I've been, I've been...sad. I'm working on it. It's hard to write or edit photos in this state.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rough Day

Almost lost my kid today.

Why is it that when you're late to pick up your perpetually late child, that this is the one time she gets out of the building on time? Then, when she doesn't see you anywhere nearby, starts wandering off.

Where exactly was she going? No one knows.

Wait. Let me back up.

So today was Parent Teacher Conference* day and I was running late. Originally we were going to take the twins, but they decided they had an urgent date with their blankies and cribs, so I left them in Eric's care. However, the leaving process took a little longer than intended and I was late to pick Caitlin up.

I looked for her outside, but saw neither hide nor hair of her.

I looked for her inside, but was assured by her teacher that she had already pulled an Elvis (The Caitlin has left the building!).

I went around to the playground, expecting to see her playing with a friend. No luck.

I went to the office, hoping to see her there all upset at my tardiness. Nope.

Then I started asking the other moms and received word that she'd headed off that-a-way. That-a-way, of course, is not even vaguely in the direction of our house. That's when the worry started creeping in.

Several moms thought it odd that they had seen her heading in that direction, but didn't stop her. Now, clearly, they were all wondering why they didn't check in with their gut instinct as they watched me crank up the Freaked Out Mom expression.

A cop pulled up in a cruiser and I was desperate enough to begin describing her to him when it struck me that I didn't even know what she was wearing that morning. I could describe her and her coat, but was she wearing blue jeans or some other color pants? She didn't wander off with someone, but could she be walking towards someone's house? Why not ours? (If you're going to pick a direction to go wandering, why wouldn't you pick the direction you know your house is in?!)

Just as I was regretting not having my cellphone on me, one of the dads drove up and announced that Caitlin had been spotted and was reeled in by one of the other moms. She was waiting for me in the office.

After thanking everyone profusely, I set off for the office. I could feel my heart hammering in my chest as the adrenaline, which had been set for Flight, was now resetting into Fight. I now understand why my mother would be so upset when she "lost" me that she'd take it out on me by yelling at me angrily once I was found. Wait, I thought you were scared. Why are you yelling?

I get it now.

I decided not to yell at Caitlin. I did have a hard time not crying though. However, Caitlin started crying in reaction, so I let her cry for both of us.

In case you're wondering, yes we've had this conversation before but she apparently "forgot". She was walking towards her friend's house to have his mom call us, completely forgetting that they have telephones in the school office.


I'm now thinking about putting a low-jack on that child.

Or maybe The Clapper.

I suppose I could go "old school" and just get a ball and chain, but that might put a cramp in her style at school.

What would you do?

* She's doing great! Thanks for asking.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Down the Rabbit Hole

I don't know how I wound up here, but I did. These are some crazy wonderful sites!

You really must go see them!

I especially liked this one (Takes a long time to load, but it's worth it!) and this one (Loads really fast and is great street photography. There's something incredibly beautiful about the girl in the orange sweater and the little pink socks. You'll know what I mean when you get there.).

Now...what was I doing again?

Clicky! Clicky!

Friday, February 06, 2009


I am doing laundry, baking bread, letting another batch rise, washing dishes, blogging and drinking tea all at the same time.

Technology is wonderful!

Now I must go pack. We're goin' to the mountains this weekend for some family time.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Baking Bread

I know I said I was going to make bread in the summer, but my fridge was stuffed full of garden veggies and a giant box of peaches on such a regular basis that there just wasn't room for a bucket o' dough.

Now though...I have no giant box of peaches and (more importantly) it's cool or cold out (it's currently 67 degrees) and I have finally turned in the gift card I was given on my birthday last year (Thanks Heather!) for a copy of the book I had mentioned previously (Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day). I just threw together the dough and it is now slowly rising on the counter. I don't know what our elevation will do to the basic recipe, but I'll see how the first batch goes and then fiddle with it.

I also noticed that my baking stone is slightly too large for the middle of my oven because of the convection fan, so Eric is off to get a 2.25" slice taken off the stone at the hardware store.

What brought this on so suddenly? Well, it's a nice day, the twins are were napping and we spend an awful lot of money on bread products. If I can find a way to have homemade bread, English muffins and bagels on a regular basis that is easy for me to do, we'll save a lot of cash. Also, no more plastic bags. Every loaf comes in a bag, plus a pair of loaves together come in a single outer bag, making 3 plastic bags for 2 loaves of bread or dozen bagels or 4 pack of English muffins. That's crazy talk!

I'll let you know how the bulk bread making experiment goes!

The dough rose to fill the 5 quart container 1.5 hours into the 2 hour rise time. Eek!

Close up dough action.

Slashed and ready to pitch into the oven.

Singing and cooling, but not yet ready to eat. Must...wait!

I'll let you know how it tastes tomorrow.

Edited to add: Yummy. Very yummy. I may need to get a larger container to double the batch!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Small Discoveries

Not only can you use the hose extender tube from the vacuum cleaner to sing into, you can also use it to poke the cat at a safe distance!

Not only do cups make a nice noise when being thrown down stairs, but it brings mommy and daddy running!

Everything in Sister's room is fascinating!

If it's on a highchair tray, it's not good to eat. If it's on mommy's plate, it's yummy! If it's on the floor, it's even better!

Daddy will run away if you growl at him. Mommy will scream if you chase her. Especially if your hands are messy.

Music is for dancing. Books are made for chewing. Paper is for tearing.

Kissing my twin (Mmmm-wah!) will make mommy and daddy laugh.

Sunday, February 01, 2009


Now, everyone has a poop story, it's true. And it's a pretty gross thing, to even have a poop story, but they appear to be inevitable.

Like laundry.

Oh, and death.

Yesterday, I was in the basement, listening to the twins wake up. Generally they wake up laughing, giggling and squealing at one another. We usually let them stay in their cribs until they reach the hollering stage, since we like relaxing without short people grunting, "Ehn! Ehn! Ehn!" at us all of the time. Well, the laughing turned to crying and I heard Eric get up and go to the twins' room.

Then, after a pause in the screaming, I heard Eric cry: "Help!"

I finished up quickly and jogged upstairs to see Eric pulling all of Logan's blanket's out of the crib. On entering the room, my nose was assaulted by that smell. Logan had pulled off his poop-filled diaper and tossed it out of the crib. There was a little poop here and there.


However, they are twins. There are two of them.

We'll never know just who started it, but over in Emma's crib, there was a similar scene. Only...worse.

Emma was backed up against the wall, wearing only her shirt. Her hands were out to either side, unmoving and looking horrified. She had also removed her diaper, only hers was still in the crib, along with smears in a semi-circle in front of her, next to her, on her clothes and all over her feet.
The Poop Monster had come for Emma.

I saw her poor little shocked face and burst out laughing. Then I started the bath running. Bathtime!

I'm kind of hoping they were traumatized enough that they won't do it again. A girl can dream!

And no, there are no photos. (Although I did think about it. Heh heh heh!)
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