Friday, January 30, 2015

Sourdough Bagels

“It has been almost two months since my last bake.” confessed the militant advocate for good food who also happened to be a gluttonous baker.

She had tried to stay far away from the temptation called wheat, meat, and everything buttered and though the fat she piled mile high from the last Christmas parties she went to had not yet completely disappeared, her already weak willed self broke at the thought of having to have another slice of factory bread just because she was afraid to gain a few pounds by baking.

So on that eventful night, her dormant sourdough starter, which she treasured like the golden tooth she thought she would have one day, was fed with the purest organic dark rye flour so it would wake up from its deep slumber and ready to be at its Mistress’ service. But alas, too long Bonnie had slept. One feeding, two feedings, three feedings were what it took to wake the bonnie sleepy starter drunk in its own alcohol. Once Bonnie was awakened, she sported a grin bigger than Cheshire cat’s grin and made way to her laboratory called The Kitchen.

LOL, enough with the story. Let me just say a very belated New Year. YAY. Yes, I haven’t baked in a while. Jeez I want my old jeans back and YAY, I am getting there. Apparently bread is not what made me gained weight. It was dinner. I still eat like I used to but I only have coffee or hot cocoa at night. My dinner is at 5 pm. Weird isn't it? But whatever works for me might not work for you vice versa. But what I know for sure, do not go into a fad or crash diet because once you’re done, you’re getting the lost pounds back plus some more caused by missing a certain kind of food so much so you gorge in it until you feel rather bad about it. Diet, a vicious cycle don’t you think?

Anyhow, I want to share you a sourdough bagels recipe. This is a recipe that I love so much because it yields chewy bagels with a pleasant sourdough tang. Bagels are supposed to be chewy; otherwise it should be called doughnuts. I do have to warn you that you need to work those arms to knead the dough like you are competing for $1000. The gluten needs to be strong, strong, strong. So you have to knead, knead, knead. 
So let’s roll up those sleeves!

Recipe is adapted from: Wild Yeast Blog
340 gr bread flour
10 g vital wheat gluten*
130 gr cold water
28 gr milk powder
17 gr brown sugar 
11 gr salt
300 gr active 100%-hydration sourdough starter
1 tbs baking soda for boiling
Sesame or poppy seeds for topping, optional

*If you do not have vital wheat gluten, you can use 350 gr bread flour but the result will be less chewy.

-Mix all the ingredients together until thoroughly combined and KNEAD.
If you are tired, rest for a while and do not forget to cover your dough with a cling wrap so it does not dry out. It will also benefit the dough. For example; knead for 10 minutes, rest for 10 minutes, then knead again. Low hydration dough gives you the best arm workout.
-Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap or a towel and let it rest for 10 minutes.
-Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Form each piece into a ball. Cover and let rest for another 10 minutes.
-Line a sheet tray with a parchment paper or silpat then dust it generously with semolina or corn meal.

I just have to put this here. Look at her knead the heavy dough :D

You can shape bagels in two ways. 
-The first is making a 10 inch long rope from each ball of dough and form a ring by joining both ends, but overlapping each a bit, then roll the joint ends to seal the deal.
-Second, this is the easy way, is just to poke a hole in the middle of the dough.

Choose whichever way of shaping you like

Proofing and Baking:
-Proof for about 3-4 hours at warm room temperature, until the bagels look and feel a bit puffy.
-When 3-4 hours is up, transfer the whole tray then to the refrigerator for 4–8 hours.
-Preheat oven to 215C.  
-Put a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil 
-Prepare a wire rack
-Remove bagels from refrigerator 
-When the water boils vigorously, add the baking soda.  
-Gently lower a few bagels at a time into the boiling water.  Boil for 20 seconds (by which time they should be floating).  If they float immediately, be sure to turn them after 10 seconds so both sides get the full benefit of the boiling water.
-Lift them out with a strainer or slotted spatula, roll it on the topping if you're using, and place on the wire rack.  Repeat with remaining dough.  Let them sit on the rack for at least 30 seconds before placing them back on the tray.
-Once they are all back on the tray, slide them into the oven.  When the oven door is shut, lower heat to 200C.  Bake until golden, around 24-26 minutes.

I hate to admit it but every time I see this picture, Pitbull's image just pops in my head singing..

One two three four
Uno dos tres cuatro
I know you want me, want me
You know I want cha, want cha

But who does not want these plump bagels??

These are best eaten at the same day but if you want to keep it fresh longer, freeze the bagels by wrapping them individually in cling wrap. Bring it to room temperature and toast it before you consume it. Now, pass me some cream cheese, please. 
Today, we dine. Tomorrow, we jog.


Submitting this to YeastSpotting

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Traditional German Pretzels

Pretzels, what joyous treat.     
I used to make pretzels the easy way. It is delicious, I can assure you. But it lacks character. Something that makes pretzels pretzels. The traditional German pretzels require a dip in lye water. I understand that lye, or chemically known as Sodium hydroxide, lies in grey area. While it is safe in small amount to be digested by human, unless I am German and I own a pretzel geschaft, I do not find the need to go to the store and purchase lye solution.

But in my pursue of authentic pretzels, I read that baked baking soda is a good replacement for lye. You see, lye is alkaline and it affects the Maillard reaction, the  chemical reaction between amino acids and sugars that gives browned foods--as a result of baking and searing-- a certain flavor. Lye bath gives pretzels deep brown crust, crunchy arms and distinctive taste. But remember, not all lye is food grade. You can’t just use lye that is meant or used for soap making. So this is where baking soda comes in. Lower in alkaline, baking soda can act as lye substitute. Not 100%, but near. Near is good than eating soap ingredients.

You can use baking soda, plainly. But if you wanna go further in altering the chemical properties of baking soda to make it very near to the effects lye gives, bake the baking soda in the oven for an hour in 120C. You can bake the baking soda in huge amount and keep it in an air tight canister. It has no expiration date. But I know better than to waste energy for the sake of color.

In short, this is what you get if you use..
-Lye bath: Very deep mahogany, like the color of a bark, superb texture.
-Baked baking soda bath: Deep mahogany, almost like a bark in color, superb texture.
-Baking soda bath: Beautiful dark brown color, superb texture.
-No bath at all: Are you kidding me?

Now that we set the rules straight for the matter of color and texture, we should get to the recipe. You will find many online that do not use beer, like my Hot Buttered Soft Pretzels recipe if you choose to omit beer and in a hurry. But this one, the one with the beer, trust me on this, it is a definite keeper.

Recipe adapted from Pretzel Making at Home
Pretzel dough:
2 1/4tsp instant yeast
120 ml  water
120 ml cold pilsner beer*
1tbs barley malt syrup/dark brown sugar
320gr bread flour
100gr dark rye flour**
5-10gr wheat bran***
2 tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tsp salt
For the bath:
1/4 cup (baked) baking soda
2 Liter water
Coarse sea salt, for topping***
*You can use all water should you avoid beer
**You can use all bread flour should you not have dark rye flour

-Mix all dry ingredients together, pour water and beer. Knead until the dough is smooth. 
-Refrigerate the dough for at least 8 hours.
-Divide the dough into 8 equal portions

-Shape into pretzels and let them proof around 20 minutes.

-Prepare the baking soda bath by boiling the water and baking soda. When the baking soda already dissolves, reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
-Dip each side of the pretzel dough for 10 seconds.

-If the pretzel hands fall off, worry not. You can always rearrange it again after the bath.
-Scatter some coarse sea salt on the pretzel if you like.
-Bake in a preheated oven on 260C for 8-12 minutes. If your oven cannot go that high, 250C will also be fine.
If you divide the dough into ten and bake for 15 minutes, you will get smaller pretzels with thin hands and very crispy hands those are.

I am not that big of a beer fan but I wouldn’t turn down a free beer, especially when it’s hot outside.. or when it’s cold outside or.. you know.. whatever the weather is. But I am also not a lass who would spend money on beer, unless I am making pretzels. You cannot taste the beer here, that is why you should keep some beer at hand. To help you gulp the pretzels down.

Oh.. Don't forget some mustard.

Not that yellow English mustard though.. 
Choose something bolder, Dijon I recommend.

Do try this at home. You won't regret it. But if you're too lazy to make it at home, you are always welcome at mine. Bring the beer,though.


Submitted to YeastSpotting
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