Friday, September 19, 2014

Bagels and Country Loaves

Country Loaf with a nice little gringe.
Sending a friend back home with bread.  Despite the extra effort that goes into it, making bagels once in a while is a lot of fun.  Working with slack doughs all the time, it's nice to remind myself how nice they are compared to hand-mixing and kneading a 7-pound batch of 60% hydration bagel dough. Very wet doughs are a lot less work once you get used to handling and shaping them.  This morning's country loaves were a pleasure, and the simple scoring opened with a nice, pronounced gringe. Well, pronounced for a boule like this.
I never tire of the anticipation of the oven spring.  Watching a relatively lifeless lump of dough double in size as the yeast go on one last feeding frenzy in the rising heat of the oven is great!  If you get the score right and managed to shape the loaf well, the results are photo-worthy.
Country Loaf Boule
A loaf of bread like this at dinner, slice or torn, warmed in the oven if it didn't just come out a half hour ago, dipped in a little olive oil, maybe with some cracked pepper, garlic, or balsamic's pretty hard to beat.

Better than the entree?
Bagels are also a pleasure to make, but in a different way.  Kind of like pretzels.  If you were a kid (or thought like a kid, anyway) you'd like making bagels a lot more than making bread.
Seeded Bagels
I make bagels with the formula and method that can be found in Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Aprentice, a formula and method that can easily be found online. These bagels remind me of the bagels I ate when I was kid.  On Sunday's after church, we'd stop by Bagel Land in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh and buy a dozen or so bagels.  When I was a kid, there were competing bagel bakeries in Pittsburgh.  Bagel Land, Bagel Nosh, all gone now.  Too bad.  At Bagel Land, you could see the bagels being made.  A big conveyor dropped the raw bagels into a trough of boiling water where the bagels floated along like life preservers to another conveyor that I assume led to an oven.  It was pretty neat.
Nothing really beats a big pile of bagels.
And for deliciousness, it's really tough to beat a toasted sesame seed bagel.  What a treat.  We have a couple of chickens, and scrambling up a couple fresh eggs with a toasted buttery bagel...there's no better way to start a day.
One more parting shot of the pile of bagels to get you hungry on a Friday morning.  Enjoy!
Sesame seed bagels.

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