BBA Challenge #3: Bagels

I was debating whether or not to post this challenge. I already made bagels a while ago for the blog. These bagels didn’t come out as planned, so I was a bit embarassed to post them. Alas, this is the Bread Baker’s challenge. Not all recipes will come out as intended. The challenge is to create and share. As far as the flop, I know where I flopped. I overproofed and underglutenized the dough. This flop should not happen again. The bagels didn’t taste bad – they just weren’t right.

This bagel recipe is quite different and a bit more complex than what I posted a month or so ago. This bagel is intended to be a two-day adventure. You start the process in the early evening hours, and finish up in time for breakfast the next morning.

You start with a sponge made up of high gluten flour, yeast, and water. The sponge will grow and grow, and keep growing until it’s ready to be used.

You then mix up the rest of the ingredients, including the special barley malt syrup. This dough should get stiff.

You must knead the dough well. Helps the dough and helps you get a good workout at the same time.

Divide the dough into 4oz. balls of dough for the bagels and let them rest a bit.

Poke the holes in the bagels and let them rest a bit, but not too long, so as not to overproof.

Do a “float test” on the bagel. You are checking to see if the bagels are ready to go to sleep in the fridge for the night. If they float, you cover the formed raw bagels and stick them in the fridge. Clean up a bit and go to sleep.

In the morning, you are ready to get going again. Get your oven preheated, and the pot of water with malt syrup and/or baking soda added, ready to boil your bagels. While you wait on the oven and the water, have some coffee.

Boil the bagels for 1-2 minutes per side, then add your toppings, and then in to the oven they go for 10 minutes.

Let them rest for a bit to cool down. Enjoy!

Stay tuned for BBA#4 – Project Brioche

BBA Challenge: Artos Bread

The second bread in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge is the Artos bread. The Artos is a Greek Celebration bread. Traditionally, this bread is served as a Christmas bread, referred to as Christopsomos bread. In the Christopsomos version, the bread is typically studded with nuts and dried fruit, then formed into boule decorated with a pretty cross. Knowing that the family is not a huge fan of fruity, nutty bread, I chose to do the basic Artos version. The Artos is an enriched and spiced bread.

I learned how to make a poolish with this bread. A poolish is a type of a starter. You combine yeast, water, and flour and let it sit on the counter for a few hours until bubbly ripe, then transfer to the fridge for at least a day until you are ready to bake. This poolish is a precursor on the baking knowledge scale to a more traditional sourdough starter or barm.

As far as putting this bread together, it reminded me a bit of challah until the spices were added. I added cloves, cinnamon, all spice, and almond extract. I formed the bread into a boule. While baking, this bread smelled heavenly. I took it out of the oven. The thing was huge! We cut into it as soon as we could. We were both a bit underwhelmed. It wasn’t a bad bread. The consistency and flavor were spot on. Just wasn’t crazy. That’s ok with me. It was still fun and I learned a bit.

I am excited for the upcoming BBA recipe – bagels. Peter Reinhart’s bagels seem like a step up from the bagels I made a short while back. Hopefully that will fare better to our palates.

Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge (BBA) – Anadama Bread

I decided to take part in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge led by Nicole of Pinch My Salt. Each week we will bake a recipe from the Bread Baker’s Apprentice cookbook by Peter Reinhart. We showcase our work via flickr, twitter, and the blogosphere. I am doing this as a challenge to myself. I will stick to the program and learn new skills. I will not be sharing the recipes, for the most part, just the techniques used. I encourage you to buy this book as well. You can find the book here on Google Books – many of the recipes are searchable.

Last week I baked the first bread on the list, the Anadama bread. The Anadama bread is traditional to New England. I started off the bread with a corn meal soaker, turning the corn meal into mush. I have never used or made a soaker before. These are the kinds of recipes that I have always shied away from.

I let the corn meal sit all day – mushing. When the liquid was absorbed, I began to create a yeast and flour based soaker to which the corn meal mush was added. I let the starter ferment for an hour. I then added the rest of the flour and the special ingredient – the molasses.
When I put the dough aside to let it proof, I had to keep myself from peeking under the towel. It doubled in size. I was thrilled. After shaping the loaves, I let it rise some more. Then into the oven it went. It came out perfect. I had to hold back and not eat the whole loaf.

The bread is excellent toasted with butter, or toasted with avocado and turkey. Yum. Check out #BBA on twitter if you would like to follow along with us, or just keep coming back to the blog. Stay tuned for the Artos bread coming soon!

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