The short version... I'm very excited to be part of the fantastic Daring Bakers. I made bagels following a recipe for my first DB Challenge and they were a rip roaring success - of sorts! Possibly the first time ever I've followed a recipe too and what can I say I'm very proud. We were still eating them toasted on the Sunday having made them on the Thursday so they can't have been that bad...
The long version... The Daring Bakers – June '07 Challenge and my very first one. I've always thought of the Daring Bakers as akin to extreme sports but a more gentile culinary arts version... Waffle, Piffle, you can end up with burns, cuts and any other untold injury being part of the DB's and all for the love of baking.... What can I say it's wonderful to be part of the Daring Bakers!
When it was made known that our challenge was going to be bagels I had mixed emotions. Firstly I always leave the bread making to my husband and children and they do a very good job of it, they also always use the Kitchen Aid and when I saw that it would be hand kneading I thought a rude word (I probably said it truth be told). But then I thought bagels? Surely easier than chocolate crepe cake or Gateau St Honore, surely? I cook and I bake cakes but those beauties would have seen me with my head in the oven.
I kept putting it to the back of my mind and then the day I made them I just thought halfway through the morning... Today is the day and then I felt sick...
I was so, so tempted to use the Kitchen Aid! I'm just being honest, but then I reminded myself why I joined the Daring Bakers which was to get some discipline in my cooking and for once follow someone else's recipe instead of always thinking that I know best. This is a common trait in all the women in my family when it comes to cooking, what am I saying some of the men are like it too and my 5 year old is already showing signs of turning out the same... Having all watched our mothers, grandmothers, great grandmothers cooking since we were tiny we all feel that we know instinctively what's right and wrong. That goes for everything but bread with me. I have always failed miserably with bread and though I can't taste any of the other DB's bagels I think this time on the whole I actually achieved a really good result.
Anyway I wanted to make these myself without small children pitching in and wanting to have a go. Selfish I know but I do a lot of cooking with them and the DB's was for me. So I set them up in front of the TV, nice and loud and I set about the bagel making.
I added the water to the bowl and then I added the sugar, I swirled it with my fingers as suggested and then I added the yeast. I busied myself getting everything else ready. Washing up the big pan that was still dirty from the previous night's dinner, (It was steeping Mum!), that sort of thing. The yeast smelled beautiful and started to bubble away nicely. I then added the 3 cups of flour and got my hands well and truly stuck in. Gloopy, yet silky at the same time. I added more flour (I've recently purchased my first set of US measuring cups and I think I've bought the crappiest ones you can get, they're stainless steel but they're so thin they bend if you blow on them!). I kept kneading. I was alarmed to see 'don't make it too dry it shouldn't tear'. Mine was tearing! I plopped the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, damp tea towel over the top – I waited.
It only seemed to take minutes and it had doubled in size. So I tipped it out on to our floured kitchen table and began to punch the living daylights out of it! BIG MISTAKE! 'Mama! What are you doing? Oh! Can I help?” “Well, I was really hoping to do this myself darling.” I replied almost pleadingly. “I'll just wash my hands. You know I could help you!” He said this as though I really needed the help. I raised my eyes and he ran to the bathroom to wash his hands. So he then punched it down. I took the tip of splitting the dough and putting half in the fridge while we worked with the other half... Next thing... “Mama me do it! Me good at dough!” The 2 year old pipes in and proceeded to scream when I said no. So I gave him a tiny bit of dough to play with. “Thank you Mama me really good at dough, me lub you!” Heart softened we carried on.
We went for the hole centric method. The first lot I didn't leave in the boiling sugar water for long enough and I forgot to put cornmeal on the base of the pans for all of them but other than that I was doing well. They went in the oven and when I opened the oven door to check how they were doing, I couldn't help but grin because they looked like proper bagels... I closed the door and let them cook for the full 25 minutes. I then took the pans out and turned them over, or at least, tried to turn them over, some had stuck to the bottom of the pan and the ones in the blasted Pampered Chef pan had hardly cooked at all, though they were browning nicely on the outside, they still felt like soft dough when I tried to turn them over. After a further 10 mins cooking the other two tins came out, however the Pampered Chef pan had to go back in for a further lifetime before they were ready.
Apart from one that totally tore apart from being stuck on the pan we let the others cool. We ate the torn apart one AND IT TASTED GOOD! Great taste, texture more bread like than bagel like but not enough to be classed as bread, so still passable as a bagel. All in all feeling rather proud of myself! When the others cooled we ate one each plain, no butter, no nothing. My husband got home and said the house smelled lovely. We were still eating the bagels toasted on Sunday having made them on the Thursday so they must have been good. No exciting topping or fillings for us I'm afraid, when we did put anything on them it was when we toasted them and then it was only butter. I think the boys had marmite on them one day.
Thanks to Jenny and Freya our hosts for the month. The orginal recipe can be found here. You can check out all the other Daring Bakers by working your way through the bar on the right handside - they're all good!
I think I would make them again, just not yet - I like the males in the house making bread for me... Lazy toad!
I almost forgot when making the bagels my 5 year old went on to tell me about Challah Buns he'd made at school and a little history of Jewish food and the faith, which he'd also learned at school... So not only did I learn that I can do dough, I learned a lot more too...