Channeling Sandra and Paula

mashed bake and corn casserole

These recipes are actually Paula’s own, but if Sandra Lee and Paula Deen had culinary love children, they’d look something like these. If this sounds appealing to you, read on. If the thought of Sandra and Paula joining forces makes you want to tear your hair out, don’t close that window just yet.

Yes, I’ll admit it’s slightly shameful that two of my favorites Thanksgiving dishes involve canned cream corn, frozen hash browns, dehydrated potato flakes and french-fried onions. But I have a sneaking suspicion that you’ll love these recipes too—even if you won’t admit it and have to sneak bites of leftovers by the light of the fridge while everyone is sleeping.

Paula Deen’s corn casserole

You’ll need:

1 can whole kernel corn

1 can cream-style corn

1 package corn muffin mix (8 oz.)

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 cup shredded cheddar

This couldn’t be easier: 1) preheat the oven to 350 degrees 2) mix all ingredients, minus the cheese, together 3) pour into a greased baking dish.

After the casserole has baked for 45 minutes, or is set in the middle and golden brown, sprinkle with cheddar and put it back in the oven. Let the cheese melt, take the casserole out and enjoy this ridiculously buttery, semi-homemade dish.

Corn casserole

Paula’s mashed baked

You’ll need:

4 cups frozen hash browns

2 packages of butter and herb mashed potato mix (if they are 4 oz. each—or 1, 8 oz. package)

1 stick butter, softened

1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 cups boiling water

2 cups french-fried onions

This recipe is a little more involved, at least by Sandra’s standards. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add in the hash browns. Let them cook for about 5 minutes and then drain, being sure to keep 2 cups of the boiling water. Mix all ingredients together and then add the boiling water. Put in a greased casserole dish and bake for 35-45 minutes. Sprinkle with the french-fried onions and bake for another 5 minutes.

Mashed baked

C’mon .. you know you want ‘em.

Jalapeno green chile corn muffins

green chile jalapeno cornbread_6

For the Northwestern tailgate earlier this month, I attempted to contribute to the festivities and failed miserably. The cornbread tasted great, there just wasn’t enough of it.

I placed my puny loaf pan next to the enormous aluminum banquet trays, and I have a feeling it was greeted with deep suspicion. “What the hell is this tiny pan of cornbread doing in our ridiculously giant tailgate buffet? Is this some sort of trick? Is it poisoned??”

I have to say I don’t blame them. It was a slightly confusing sight. By the end of the tailgate there was just a paper-thin slice missing from the pan. I should mention that the Paces gobbled up the corn muffins I brought like skittles, so I know it wasn’t for lack of taste. Here’s the recipe. Tailgate at your own risk.

Jalapeno green chile corn muffins

You’ll need:

2 cups masa

2 1/2 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 can green chile

1 cup corn kernels

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 jalapeno, minced

2 cups milk

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1-2 cups cheddar cheese

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients (minus the cheese) and pour into a greased pan (cupcake, loaf or cake pan).

You know I used my beautiful mixer.

green chile jalapeno cornbread_2

Pour the batter in the pan or cupcake tin and sprinkle with cheddar. Bake for 20-50 minutes (depending on the pan you use) or until a toothpick comes out clean.

green chile jalapeno cornbread_3

Green chile jalapeno cornbread

What I learned from 7 straight days of Bread Baking

It’s been a few days since the end of Bread Week, and I’ve had some time to decompress from my bread-baking frenzy. I’ve also had some time to gather some tips and tricks I picked up along the way that I think any beginning baker could benefit from. So here they are—the things I wish I’d known before I started this crazy endeavor:
  • When kneading, use the windowpane or finger poke test to ensure the dough is ready. For the windowpane test, the dough should be able to stretch to the point of being opaque without breaking. For the finger-poke test, poke the dough with your finger. If the indent remains (the dough doesn’t bounce back), it’s ready. Everyone warns about over-kneading, but from my experience, you’re way more likely to under-knead.
  • boiling water + a really hot oven + a pizza stone = an awesomely crusty bread with moist, chewy insides. Read this post and this post to see what I mean.
  • It’s best to let dough sit overnight in the fridge before baking it—the flavors are better. Just remember that you will have to proof it (let it rise to double it’s original size) once before it goes into the fridge and a second time before it goes into the oven to bake. The second proof will take longer if the bread has been in the fridge.
  • You don’t need to knead to get a great bread. Exhibit A.
  • You can use a just-barely-warm oven to proof your dough if the room is too cool (below 75 degrees). Turn the oven on, and just when it starts to get slightly warm, turn it off, put your dough in and cover it with a damp warm towel. Don’t let the oven get above 100 degrees, however, or the yeast will die.
  • Let your yeast dissolve in warm water (85-110 degrees) before incorporating it into the flour and other ingredients.
  • You be the judge when it comes to flour and water. Recipes often aren’t exact in terms of flour and water. Sometimes the dough is too dry, in which case you’ll need to add a smidge of water. If it seems to wet, add a little flour. Usually dough should be slightly tacky, but not overly sticky.
  • Bread flour is used in most recipes because it has a higher gluten content. It also needs to be kneaded longer than regular flour. All-purpose or wheat flour can be used as a substitute, usually, however.
  • Pitas (assuming you want yours to puff) and bagels were the most difficult, the no-knead bread and Monti’s Roman Bread the easiest or bread week.

Also, here are some of the most popular bread cookbooks, all now on my personal wish list:

Anyone else have any bread-making tips?

Last day of bread week: French baguette



French Baguette_4



Well my friends, today is officially the last day of bread week, and as I type, I still have dough underneath my fingernails and a fine dusting of flour covering every square inch of my kitchen.


Dough Hands_2


I’m not going to lie: This was a lot harder and more time consuming then I thought it would be. My mixer is on the verge of suicide (it was literally walking itself off the table with a loud thumping noise on that last large batch of dough), and I am in a carb-induced coma.

But I’ve learned a lot and gained some serious patience along the way. And I can’t tell you how rewarding it was to pull those final baguettes out of the oven and marvel at their crusty, golden-brown beauty.

The french baguette, the Holy Grail of all all breads (well, maybe it’s sourdough, but I haven’t had enough time to make a starter, OK??) is the perfect end to a week of endless kneading, bagel/pita heartbreak and overall triumph.



French Baguette_2



French Baguette

Adapted from Joe Pastry’s recipe (this is a VERY helpful blog for all you baking beginners out there—thanks to Sara at I Am A Food Blog for the tip!)

You’ll need:

3 1/2 cups bread flour

1 1/2 teaspoons yeast

3 teaspoons salt

1 1/4 cup lukewarm water

1 1/3 cup poolish (see Joe Pastry’s instructions, but be sure to double his measurements)

A small chunk (5-10 oz) of old dough (dough that has been in the fridge for 1-3 days)

First, you should have a chunk of old dough before you start. You can make some just for this purpose, again using instructions from Joe Pastry, or you can set some dough aside from another bread. I used some from my pitas.

Then, about 12-16 hours before you are going to start the dough, make your poolish.

It should be bubbly and foamy when it’s ready.



Poolish



When the poolish is ready, mix the yeast and the water. Combine this with the poolish and flour and mix until incorporated. Chances are you may need a little more flour, but don’t worry, you can add that little by little as you knead. Let this sit for 20 minutes.

Now mix in the old dough (torn in pieces) and the salt and knead for 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and passes the windowpane test. It should still be a little tacky, but not so much that it’s impossible to work with. Put the dough in an oiled bowl covered in cling wrap and allow it to double in size (about 1 1/2 to 2 hours).

When the dough is done proofing, separate it into six equal sized balls, and the form them into football shapes and let rest for 10 minutes. Next time I’ll do this all on parchment to make it easier to transfer to the pizza stone (I tried to transfer the loaves to parchment after the final proof and it was difficult to say the least)



Baguette Dough





Baguette Dough_2



Then, take your hand and create an indent in the bottom of each loaf like so:



Baguette Dough_3



Then fold and pinch them together like this:



Baguette Dough_4





Baguette Dough_5



Apparently this creates tension on top for a nicer looking baguette, but I’m not sure if this did much for mine. Now roll these out into long, thin baguettes:



Baguette Dough_6



You can refrigerate these at this point (this makes the flavor better, they say. I refrigerated three and baked the other three) or let them rest for another 30 to 40 minutes. In the mean time, heat your oven to 500 with a pizza stone and a broiler tray in it.

When ready to bake, slice diagonally down the loaf (more vertical than horizontal). I think my loaves were a little too wet, or my knife not sharp enough, because this didn’t work very well for me. No biggie—this is just for show. Dust lightly with flour and slide the loaves (still on the parchment paper) onto the pizza stone.

Then pour a cup of hot water in the broiler tray and quickly close the oven.



French Baguette



Bake for 25-35 minutes, until golden brown.

My baguettes weren’t as pretty as Joe Pastry’s, but they were still completely delicious.



French Baguette_5





French Baguette_6





French Baguette_7



Well, thank you all for tagging along for this very LONG week. I’ll post within the next day or so to share the tips and tricks I’ve learned about bread making during this adventure.

Bread week, day 6: Pita



Pita_5



It seemed so easy. All was going according to plan. Day 6 of bread week was sure to be a piece of cake … er … bread.

Until my pitas failed to puff.

They were as deflated as my ego after a thus-far-successful bread week was foiled.

I’ll give you all the recipe, because I think the inability to puff isn’t the recipe so much as the execution. Bake at your own risk.

Pita Bread

Adapted from The Bread Bible

You’ll need:

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons active yeast

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/4 cups lukewarm water

Mix the water and yeast until the yeast is dissolved and let sit for five minutes to activate the yeast. Mix in all other ingredients and knead for 10 minutes or until your dough passes the windowpane test. This may have been where I went wrong. The dough felt too wet, so I added flour. According to several sources, the dough must be moist, otherwise the pitas won’t puff.

Let your dough proof for an hour, or until doubled in size, and then refrigerate overnight (you can also proceed to the next step immediately, but a night of refrigeration will develop the flavors more).

Divide your dough into eight equal-sized balls and let sit covered by a warm, damp towel for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven with a pizza stone in it to 500 degrees.

Roll out each ball to form a very thin pita. I think this may have been another hang up in my execution—pitas that are too thick will not puff, apparently. Mine were about 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick and they probably should have been a little thinner.

Cook the pitas a few at a time, directly on the pizza stone for 3-5 minutes each.

I thought this guy would be the one. The one that would puff and redeem all my hopes and dreams about the joys of homemade pitas.



Pita_3



Alas, he fell flat and disappointed like all the rest. **Sigh**.

After scouring the web to try and figure out where I went wrong, here are the tips I’ve managed to gather:

  • Pita dough must be moist in order for the pita to puff. I tried a tip from Smitten Kitchen in which I wet down the pitas before putting them in the oven. I even tried incorporating more water in the dough, re-kneading and re-forming the pitas. No dice. But, um, maybe you’ll have better luck?
  • The oven must be hot, hot, hot. 500 degrees. (Mine was, but still a no go on the pita puffing)
  • The pitas must be thin. Play around with forming pitas between 1/8-inch and 1/4-inch thick.

In the end, all was not lost on the second to last day of bread week, as my pitiful pitas actually made pretty decent mini pizzas:



Pita Pizza



If you have tips, or simply care to vent about a similarly frustrating un-puffed pita experience, I’d love to hear it.

Bread week, day 5: No need to knead



no knead bread_2



I stumbled upon a recipe for no-knead bread on The Vegetarian Foodie blog. Not that I was excited to find a no-knead recipe. What are you saying? I love kneading. Are you accusing me of getting burnt out on all this bread baking, proofing and kneading? Nonsense. I was just … ummm … curious.

Riiiiight.

Anyway, I was slightly skeptical. Why would anyone ever knead dough if they could skip this step and still get a great bread (besides those of us who are brimming with passion for perfecting the art and science of kneading, of course)?

Well, my friends, I was utterly amazed at the ease of this recipe and the quality of end result. I’ll go ahead and say that this is the best bread of bread week so far. The steam trick yields a thick, crisp crust while the insides are moist, chewy and delicious.



no knead bread_8



You will not believe that the crusty, beautiful creation that emerges from your oven consists of only four ingredients and requires hardly any work at all.



no knead bread_4



Basic No-Knead Bread

Adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

You’ll need:

1 1/2 cups warm water (no warmer than 100 degrees)

3 1/4 cups bread flour

2 teaspoons active yeast

2 teaspoons salt

Mix all the ingredients together until they are well incorporated. Cover the bowl with a warm, damp towel and let rise in a warm place for two to five hours. Replace the damp towel with cling wrap and refrigerate overnight.



no knead dough



The next morning, take the bowl out, flour the surface of the dough and form the dough into two equally sized balls. Let the dough rise for an hour in a warm place, covered by a warm, damp towel.



no knead dough_2



Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 500 degrees with a pizza stone and a broiler tray in the oven.

Before putting the loaves in the oven, flour and cut two slits on the top of each loaf. Carefully slide the loaves (still on the parchment paper) onto the pizza stone. Then take a large cup of hot water and pour the water into the broiler tray. This causes steam in the oven and creates a hard, thick, exterior crust.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, turning the oven down to 475 degrees about 10 minutes into baking.

Absolutely …



no knead bread_3



Positively …



No knead bread



Deliciously …



no knead bread_11



Flawless.



no knead bread_6





no knead bread_7



Bread week, day 4: Challah



Challah_3



Something about bread week would be amiss without at least one recipe to celebrate my (half) Jewish heritage (and just in time for Shabbat!). Thanks to Heather at Chick n’ Pastry for the inspiration.

This challah is my first real loaf of the week—a braided one at that!—so it took some major chutzpah. Especially during my first few attempts to braid the dough. I was schvitzing like a whore in synagogue, I tell you. Oy vey.

Challah

Adapted from A Blessing of Bread

You’ll need

2 teaspoons instant yeast

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/8 cup warm water (add a little more if the dough isn’t moist enough)

3 large eggs, plus 1 for glazing

1 1/2 teaspoons salt (KOSHER, what else??)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup dark corn syrup (original recipe calls for honey)

Mix your water, yeast and 1/4 cup of the flour in a bowl and let sit for 20 minutes. It should rise slightly and look bubbly. Then mix in your eggs, salt, oil and corn syrup or honey. When all the ingredients are well mixed, add the rest of the flour and mix thoroughly.

Work the dough into a ball. I hand-kneaded this time, as the recipe only called for 5 minutes of kneading. I was skeptical however, because after 5 minutes, my dough wasn’t passing the finger or windowpane test (which another Challah recipe called for).

I stopped kneading. I wrapped the dough in cling wrap to let sit in the fridge overnight. I unwrapped it and poked at it. I kneaded some more. I second guessed myself. I stopped kneading. Dough went back in the fridge. I hemmed and hawed and pulled it out again. I must have looked like a total meshugenah.

Once I’d quelled my O.C.D. (Obsessive Challah Disorder), I let the dough sit overnight in the fridge and proofed it (let it rise) again this morning. You can do this (proofing will take longer after it’s been in the fridge) or you can proof it immediately for about 1-2 hours, or until it’s doubled in size.

Then comes the fun part. And by fun I mean hellishly frustrating.

Separate your dough into six equal portions. Roll out each portion into a strand. The longer and thiner your strands, the longer and thinner your challah loaf will be. If the dough resists, either let it sit under a damp towel for a little or moisten it with a little water.

Now lay three of your strips out parallel to each other on floured parchment paper (this makes transferring the loaves to the pan easier). Pull the right strand over the top of the middle like so:



Braiding Challah



Then, take the left strand and pull it over the “new” middle (originally the right strand), like this:



Braiding Challah_2



Keep it going…



Braiding Challah_4



You got it …



braiding Challah_5



Don’t stop now!

OK, now pinch the ends together like this:



Braiding Challah_6



Do the other side, and then the next loaf. Let them sit and proof again for about two hours. I put mine in a slightly warm oven (no warmer than 100 degrees or so) with a dish of hot water on the bottom rack and put a wet towel over the loaves to speed up the process (took about an hour). The loaves should triple in size.



challah dough



Brush them with egg wash and a little salt and put them in a 325 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

This was by far the most labor-intensive bread yet, but well worth it. While my loaves weren’t picture perfect, they tasted pretty damn good—light, fluffy and slightly sweet, just as challah should. Not really sure what happened to the one on the left …



Challah





Challah_4





Challah_8



So mazel tov to me on my first challah loaf. Baking these troublesome things should definitely count as a mitzvah.

OK, I’m, done with the yiddish and hebrew …

Shabbat Shalom.

Now done for real.

Bread week, day 3: I say Lavosh, you say Lavash



Lavosh_5



Lavosh/lavash. Know aliases: cracker bread, lawaash, paraki, Armenian cracker bread, lahvosh, lawasha, naan-e-lavaash. But it’s moniker isn’t important. In the words of William Shakespeare, this cracker by any other name would taste as good.

Joelen at What’s Cookin’ Chicago recently made Lavosh, and after finding out that the recipe is included in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice (and in fancy restaurant bread baskets everywhere), I decided that it counts towards day three of bread week.

Rosemary  and Parmesan Garlic Lavosh Crackers

(adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice)

You’ll need:

1 1/2 cups bread flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

1 tablespoon honey (I substituted corn syrup)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/3 to 1/2 cup water, room temperature

coarse salt, fresh ground pepper, garlic powder, rosemary, white pepper, shredded parmesan for topping

Mix all the ingredients minus the spices and parmesan for topping.

Knead for about 10 minutes. I learned another trick for checking dough doneness, in addition to the finger-poke test: if you can strech the dough without tearing it (in moderation, of course), it’s ready. This is called the “windowpane test.”

Let the dough rise in an oiled bowl covered with cling wrap until it has doubled in size. This should take about an hour and a half.

Lay out greased parchment paper on your work surface. Roll out the dough on the parchment until it is as thin as you can get it. I had to cut mine in half in order to fit the dough in two sheet pans.



Lavosh dough





Lavosh Dough_2



It should look like this:



Lavosh Dough_3



Put the dough, parchment and all, on sheet pans, spray with water and top with spices. You can get really creative here. I used freshly grated parmesan, fresh ground pepper, course salt and garlic powder for one, and rosemary, fresh ground pepper, white pepper, course salt and a few drizzles of olive oil for the other.

Then cut your dough into the desired shape. This is optional—you can always break it up into pieces after it bakes.



Lavosh Dough_5



Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. Some of my thinner pieces cooked faster, so I pulled them out a little early.



Lavosh



It turned out great—crunchy, spicy and flavorful. This would be great with soft cheese (actually, any cheese) and of course, say it with me now, “Butter!”



Lavosh_4





Lavosh_3



Bread week, day 2: Onion Rosemary Flatbread (a.k.a. Monti’s Roman Bread)



Montis Roman Bread_9



A little discouraged by my mediocre bagels, I picked myself up off my flour-dusted floor and moved on to day two of bread week: Monti’s Roman Bread.

As I read the recipe, my mind bubbled with doubts. Will mine taste anything like the warm, greasy delicacy I remember? Am I setting myself up for failure? Am I being too ambitious??

As the smells of the baking bread began to waft through the air, I simmered down a bit. Pulling the sheet pan out of the oven, my confidence rose again—at least it looked as it should. I cut out a corner and slathered it with butter, as I’m sure Nona Monti had intended. And then, I took the first glorious bite.

The finished product was more than a success. It was a revelation. An out-of-body experience. A turning point.

OK, I’m being dramatic again, but in all seriousness, my bread was JUST as I remember it from Monti’s. The strong onion and rosemary flavor was spot-on. The slightly chewy, ciabatta-like texture was there too.

It’s fantastic. It offered just the validation I needed to continue on my bread bender. There’s no question that this recipe will be in very heavy rotation in our kitchen from here on out.



Montis Roman Bread_10



Monti’s Roman Bread

(Recipe courtesy of Monti’s La Case Vieja in Tempe, AZ)

You’ll need:

2 packages active dry or instant yeast (14 g)

1 tablespoon sugar

1½ cups lukewarm water

4 cups flour

½ cup finely chopped onion

2 teaspoons salt

dried rosemary

vegetable oil

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the lukewarm water in a large bowl. Once again, I used my mixer to stir and knead. Mix in the onion, flour,  1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 1/2 tablespoons rosemary. I kneaded it in the mixer for a few minutes, then switched to hand kneading until the dough retained an indent when poked, like this:



Finger test with dough



Most bread recipes say the dough should be smooth, but I’m afraid the onions and rosemary make this one a little lumpy.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel. I tried the oven trick—put some hot water in a pan on the lowest rack, turned the oven on so it would warm up just a bit, and then let my dough sit in there until it had doubled in size. Worked like a charm.

Punch the dough down and spread it on a greased sheet pan. I stretched mine out, but you could use a rolling pin as well.



Montis Roman Bread_2



Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees, then turn it down to 375 degrees. Oil the top of the bread, let it rise again, and then sprinkle it generously with rosemary and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook for 20-25 minutes. As my bread cooked, it didn’t glisten like I’d remembered, so I added a littlemore oil on the top. This bread, like any other I suppose, is best served warm and fresh out of the oven.



Montis Roman Bread_5





Montis Roman Bread_8



Bread week begins. Day 1: Bagels



Bagel_9


Hello all. Happy belated Labor Day and welcome back to reality.

I woke up this morning ravenous for bagels. I also had a very random and nostalgic craving for Monti’s Roman Bread. I waited tables there in college and have been known to eat entire baskets of the stuff in one sitting.

This train of thought led me to reflect on my general obsession with breads of all shapes, sizes and flavors. For example …

Dave’s warnings about filling up on the bread basket when we eat out are futile. Don’t think I won’t buy a baguette and eat it with butter for breakfast, lunch and dinner. My last Trader Joe’s run yielded a glutinous bounty of sourdough, challah, bake-at-home french bread and bagels (and I was only a little ashamed). I wouldn’t last five hours on the Atkin’s diet.

I digress. The point is, all of these carb-filled daydreams brought me to a startling and embarrassing realization: I’ve never made bread. There, I said it. Phew. That feels better.

I think it’s because I can barely stand to let a loaf sit in my grocery bag for more than a millisecond before ripping it out and smearing it with butter. In fact, sometimes I can’t even be bothered to slice it or spread the butter on with a knife. So how could I possibly have the patience to bake it my own? Plus, I have to admit that something about the task has always seemed daunting.

That’s all changing this week as I attempt a carbohydrate crash course by baking a different bread each day. Without a bread maker. Break out the active yeast and let’s get going.


Bagels_3


Basic Bagels

(Recipe adapted from bagelrecipes.net)

You’ll need:

2  eggs

1 egg white

1 potato, peeled and quartered

1 packet of active dry yeast (7 g)

4 cups of high-gluten or bread flour

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 ½ tablespoons of sugar, divided

½ tablespoon of salt

cornmeal (for pan)

First, some bagel tips. The reason I am putting these at the beginning is because, if you’re anything like me, chances are you’d skip over them otherwise:

  • When you dissolve the yeast in the water, be sure the water is about 110 degrees. Any hotter and the yeast will die, any colder and it will not develop properly.
  • Use high-gluten flour. I used all-purpose flour and the finished products weren’t as “bagely” as I thought they should be. The high gluten flour apparently makes them chewier.
  • Try adding two tablespoons malt syrup. It wasn’t in the recipe I used, but supposedly it adds a more authentic look and flavor.
  • When in doubt, knead it out. I didn’t knead my dough enough, so my bagels weren’t as puffy and chewy as I would like—kneading develops the gluten and allows the dough to rise. The picture below shows how mine fell a little flat:


Bagels_8


First, boil a peeled and quartered potato in water for 15 minutes. Toss (or save for later?) the potato. Let 1/3 cup of the potato water cool to 110 degrees and then mix in the yeast, letting it dissolve. Set this aside for three minutes.

When ready, mix all ingredients together (using 1/2 tablespoon of sugar for the dough), plus another 2/3 cup of the potato water. Knead for about 10 minutes (a little less with a mixer). The dough should be elastic and stay indented when you poke it with your finger.

I, of course, used my KitchenAid mixer with the dough hook attachment for about 3 minutes and then hand kneaded the dough for a minute or two—ultimately not long enough.

Let the dough rest for 60 to 90 minutes in in a greased bowl covered with a damp towel. After the fact, I discovered that the dough should rest at a temperature of 80-85 degrees. You can either dial up the temp on your thermostat, or you can use an Alton Brown trick: put a shallow pan filled with very hot water on the bottom rack of your oven and put the bowl with the dough on the next rack up. The steam will rise, heat the oven, and keep the dough moist. You may want to also heat the oven for a minute or so, then turn it off just to get the temp up a little.

After the dough has risen to half it’s original size, divide it in to 12 equal parts. Roll each one into a ball and poke your finger through it to form a hole. Twirl the bagel around your finger to form a bagel shape. Let the formed dough rise (covered and warm) for another 20 minutes or so.



Bagel



In the meantime, boil some water with the remaining tablespoon of sugar and preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Boil each bagel for about three minutes, flipping once. Place drained and boiled bagels on a greased and cornmeal-dusted pan and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.



Bagels_4



All in all, the bagels were good, but I definitely need to work on my bread-making technique. Follow the tips I’ve mentioned and hopefully yours will turn out better than mine.



Bagels_11



Stay tuned for a new bread recipe each day this week. God help me.

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