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Monday, March 15, 2010

Bagels, and ALMOST Linda's Chelsea Buns

Bagels


Homemade bagels are INCREDIBLY simple. Not only do you not need the same rising time or baking time as bread, you don't really need any skill either! Seriously, if you try nothing else from the Lent Experiment, give bagels a chance.


* A comment about yeast * If you plan on making things that require yeast on a regular basis DO NOT buy the individual packets. The price difference between those little packages and bulk is unreal. Places like Zehrs and RCSS carry a bulk package of "Bakers Yeast" that costs pennies per tsp. Yeast is time sensitive and should be kept in a cool, dry place. You should also keep it in a container that is sealed to optimize it's life. Instant yeast doesn't always need to be "proofed" for all recipes, but it's a good way to check that it hasn't died. I've kept mine for up to a year with n

o problems - just be sure to check it before

you waste ingredients.


Homemade Bagel

1 Tbsp sugar

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1-1/4- 1-1/2 cups of warm water

2 tsp yeast

4 cups flour


Dissolve, sugar and salt in warm water. Add oil and sprinkle with yeast. Add flour until dough pulls from the side of the bowl. Transfer to work surface and knead for 10 min. or so. This dough should be quite tough to knead and very firm. Cut dough into 8 equal sized pieces, roll into balls, cover with dry towel and let rest for 30 minutes.

To shape the bagels, the easiest thing to do is put your finger or thumb through the middle of the dough ball. Work the dough into the standard bagel shape, making sure it's even all around. If it's not even, don't sweat it - homemade can look less than professional - no one, and I mean no one will complain.

Let rest again for another 20-30 minutes. After 10 minutes are up turn your oven on to 500F and get a big pot of water boiling.

Prepare your baking tray by lining it with parchment paper or greasing it very lightly with vegetable oil.

Once water is at a rolling boil and bagels have rested for at least 20 minutes (they should start to look puffy) drop the bagels in the water and boil on each side for 1 minute. If you have a cooling rack, let the bagels rest on it for a few minutes before putting on baking tray - if not, no sweat.

This is the time for toppings. As you may guess, anything goes. I've made everything bagels (poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dehydrated onion and garlic salt), sesame bagels, plain, etc. once you're more familiar with bagel making you can add ingredients to the dough (cinnamon raisin) but plain is best to start.

Bake at 500F for 10 minutes. Let cool for as long as you can stand it & enjoy.

* If you have malt powder or liquid at home, find a recipe that uses malt. It's the more authentic way to make bagels, and improves their color. I don't use it because I have no other need for it, but if you've got it - try it!*


Almost Linda's Chelsea Buns

Somehow, with all the siblings my Mom and Dad gave me, they managed to miss one. Linda DEFINITELY should have been my sister. She bakes like a queen, but is also very funny and beautiful. I absolutely adore her. One night around a campfire I got her Chelsea bun recipe off of her. She only spoke it to me (there's no pen and paper at a campfire!) so there are a few alteratio

ns that may or may not be part of the recipe. It still tastes great, but that's why they're called ALMOST Linda's Chelsea Buns.


2 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp oil

1 tsp salt

4 cups warm water

2 cups flour

1 Tbsp yeast


Dissolve sugar and salt in warm water. Add oil. Combine flour and yeast, add to wet ingredients and let proof (15 minutes).

Add up to 5 more cups of flour until you get the right dough consistency. You're looking for something similar to a bread dough but a bit firmer.

Let rise until doubled in bulk.

Butter (roughly 3/4 cup)

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

1 Tbsp cinnamon (or to taste)

While bread is rising, prepare butter by whipping some into a frenzy. It needs to be easily spreadable but still thick.

Prepare baking dish by slathering the bottom with a generous helping of butter. You don't want to be able to see through the bottom if you're using glass.

When dough has risen, punch down and place on work surface. Roll into rectangle shape 1/4" thick. Brush with butter (don't be shy). Mix sugars and cinnamon in a bowl and sprinkle the buttered rectangle - make sure you save some of the sugar mixture and sprinkle the bottom of the baking dish with whatever remains. You want enough sugar to make a syrup with the butter, but not to make a crust. Roll dough into log, pinch seam, and slice into 1-2" rounds. Place buns into prepared pan, cover with damp cloth and let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F.

When oven and buns are ready, place buns on middle rack and bake for ROUGLY 30 minutes. If you make 8 humungous buns (as I did today) you will need to bake them for around 45 minutes, but if you use a larger pan and make 12-15 smaller buns, 30 minutes should be adequate. When you think your buns are done, take them out of the oven and carefully peek between two of them - if the dough is cooked it's ready, if not - it's not. If you are worried about the top getting too crunchy before the buns are thoroughly cooked, you can "tent" aluminum foil over the tops for 10 minutes or so.

Enjoy, and thank Linda.


Bread Tips with Rose of Sharon

You know that I couldn't use the oven for only TWO measly items. Sol is addicted to egg salad on bread right now, so I figured I might as well throw a few loaves in while I was baking anyway. I thought I'd share some tips that I don't always use, unless I'm trying to impress people with my amazing bread. Typically, I just throw bread in the oven because it gets gobbled so quickly - but when it's for a gift or company is coming, there are a few things to do that can improve your favorite loaf.


1. Super-heat your oven. If the recipe calls for the oven to be at 350F, blast it to 450 or even 500 and when you put the bread it turn it back to whatever it's supposed to bake at. This gives your yeast a quick burst of heat to really make your bread rise.
2. Steam. Know your oven before attempting this one, because all kitchen appliances are NOT made equal. If you have an oven that can handle it, there are a few ways to steam your bread while baking. You can boil water and put it in a baking dish below the bread so that there is a constant steam in the oven. You can put your bread in and carefully "throw" 1/2 cup hot water on the bottom of your oven to create a burst of steam that will keep your bread moist. Use an oven mitt while doing the last one incase your arm/hand gets in the way of the steam.
3. Boost your heat. Do you have a baking stone? Even if you're not using it for the bread you're making, place it on the rack below your bread to keep the temperature as solid as possible. Be sure to place it in the oven as you're heating it, not when it's at it's goal temperature. You can also use unglazed terra-cotta for this, but I've yet to find any.

That's it for today.... Happy Baking!

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