You know that thing where you have a sort of non-romantic/non-sexual crush on someone you don’t actually know or interact with, and likely will never meet? What do we call that?
Tumblr. We call that Tumblr.
Let’s talk about bagels.
As a pretentious New Yorker, I take my carbohydrates very seriously — this includes both pizza and bagels. I have no shame in admitting as much. Just as pizza is not simply bread with sauce and cheese slapped on it, a bagel is not simply round bread with a hole in the middle. The ingredients and method used to create a realbagel are what sets it apart from that which you can buy at a grocery store or chain eatery (I’m looking at you, Panera + Einstein).
I couldn’t get a decent bagel in Utah, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. While this recipe is not perfect, it will get you about as close to New York bagels as humanly possible without building some of your own wooden bakeware.
The “secrets” to the New York bagel:
- Overnight proofing — a lot of bread doughs require 60-90 minutes of rest. For the best bagel results, you need to allow for a retarded fermentation. In a refrigerator, the fermentation process will happen more slowly, allowing the yeasty flavor to better permeate the dough. It will also allow the water content in the dough to be more evenly distributed. I’ve tried a more conventional dough proofing process, and the bagels stunk. Don’t shortcut this.
- Barley malt syrup — If you google bagel recipes, you will usually find that they call for a tablespoon or two of whatever sugar you have (typically either table sugar or honey). This is complete malarky. You need to use barley malt syrup. I have only been able to find it at Whole Foods, but I guarantee that without it, your bagels will just taste like rolls. If you’ve never had a New York bagel, you won’t care. If you have, you will notice that the taste difference is staggering.
- Poach before you bake — Real bagels are poached (boiled) in a solution containing barley malt syrup, salt, and baking soda. This gives the bagels their chewy external texture and their lovely golden sheen. Lazy/commercial bakers will skimp on this step by either brushing the bagels with a baking soda/water solution or omitting it entirely. Fools.
There are a couple of actual baking techniques involving baking the bagels on wooden boards and such, but these are advanced and not wholly necessary tricks of the trade. Honestly, while I think they would improve my bagels’ quality, I am too lazy for the time being. That said, if you don’t have a baking stone, I suggest that you get one ASAP, because these really don’t turn out as well when baked on a metal baking sheet.
Now that you understand what will be required of you, feel free to proceed forth to my carefully crafted (with the help of my professional bagel-baking father) bagel recipe at your own risk.
Periodically, people ask me for blog suggestions, and I try my best to point out thoughtful, interesting, well-written blogs that are composed of mostly personal posts.
I’ve been around these parts for a while now, and a good number of the <100 blogs that I follow have sort of petered out over the course of months and years. I would like to liven up my dash a little bit.
I am not picky about the general theme of the blog — I actually usually prefer when posts are not fitness-oriented. I follow fitness enthusiasts (runners, crossfiters, lifters, miscellaneous adventurers, etc — these are my roots, after all), young professionals, parents, grad/med students, super feminists, lots of teachers… you get my drift. Errybody.
ANYWAY. All of that said, what are some of your favorite blogs that I may not be aware of? Who do you suggest that I follow?
katiegirlchasesinfinity said: 1. I wasn't sure whether rising was the same as proofing! Thanks for clearing that up :) 2. Proooooobably. I didn't know that was possible! It said to knead it for 6-8 minutes and I did it for 8 because my butter was still in chunks so I was trying to sort of melt it in. AH. baking n00b. How do you know how long to knead for??
I guess proofing has some contested definitions — some people refer to the process of dissolving and activating your yeast as proofing, whereas others refer to anything involving letting the yeast rest and do its job as proofing.
When your dough is resting, the yeast is at work eating up the sugars and creating a CO2 byproduct (fermentation), which is what makes the dough rise. (If you overproof your dough, the CO2 pockets will begin to deflate, yielding dense breads with poor crumbs.)
Under- and over-kneading dough really has to do with how strong the gluten bonds that you’ve formed have become. In under-kneaded dough, the gluten has yet to fully align and create the rope-like bonds. It tears easily, but if you keep working it, you can knead it back together and create the missing gluten bonds with little effort. In over-kneaded dough, the gluten bonds are so strong that there is little give in the dough — it’s not really stretchy, it doesn’t hold shape well, and it tears easily. For lack of a better term, over-kneaded dough is sort of brittle.
Here’s my analogy for gluten bonds:
Under-kneaded dough is like a messy pile of unspun fiber. All of the elements for a strong yarn are there, but they are not yet arranged in a way that will inevitably strength them. As you work your dough, the gluten bonds begin to come together and strengthen them like a single strand yarn — this is much stronger than the unspun fiber, but it’s still pretty easy to break the yarn and then spin it back together if you need to do so without anyone being the wiser (under-kneaded dough). As you continue to work, it’s like you’re spinning together multiple strands to create a 4-ply yarn. It’s much stronger now, and it holds its shape. If you tear it, you can get it back together with some effort, but there will probably be a noticeable scar from where the “damage” happened (properly kneaded dough). If you over-knead the dough, it’s like trying to work with climbing rope. It’s tough and if you cut or tear it, you’re screwed — there’s no way to get it back together again. You can’t make the rope less strong, and there is no way to repair the damage that has occurred (over-kneaded dough).
In properly kneaded dough, you should have fairly visible, strong bonds. The dough generally prefers to be “stretched” in a certain direction, but it’s still flexible (and has more “give” or “stretch” when warmed to room temperature). A properly kneaded dough ball should be pretty smooth, but you should also be able to see some of the gluten bonds’ directionality or strata on the surface.
Anyway, any toughness in your dough could be due to:
- under-proofing (not enough CO2)
- over-proofing (CO2 escapes the dough)
- over-kneading (causing the gluten bonds to over-develop and potentially tear)
I usually ignore suggested knead times and just go based on feel. (If you’re using a stand mixer, I have no advice to offer you other than to ditch it and get your hands dirty.) The more breads you make, the easier and more intuitive the process will become.
Anonymous said: Are you planning or would you plan a trip to a higher mountain range? 11k is definitely impressive but do you think about opportunities for 14ers?
The highest peak in the Wasatch Range is Mt. Nebo (11,928’). Though most of our mountains are not nearly as high as The Neebs, we do keep a roll call of our highest, which we call the “eleveners.” There are a total of 30 eleveners, and I’ve only summited five of them (Nebo, Provo, Sugarloaf, Timpanogos, and Pfeifferhorn). These mountains may not seem as “sexy” as the 14’ers of Colorado, but considering that where I live in the Salt Lake valley is ~4200’, their prominence commands respect, and they can be quite formidable peaks to bag. They’re fucking gorgeous, too.
(This was taken from the Alpine Ridge on the way down from Pfeifferhorn — 11,326’ today. To the left is Red Pine Lake — 9700’, where we camped. To the right is Upper Red Pine Lake — 10,000’. This hike was ~4,000’ vert in 4.5 miles. The first 3.5 miles/2,600’ vert to Red Pine Lake were traversed while carrying a 44 lb pack. The last mile averaged out to a 30% grade, but we had on day packs that felt like air. :D The Cottonwood Ridge is seen in the upper left of this photo — all of those peaks are eleveners that I have yet to grace with my footfalls.)
Anyway, I’m sure other places have mountains worth exploring, but Utah keeps me occupied and happy. We have plenty of other in-state ranges that rise above the Wasatch (e.g., Uintas, La Sal, Tushars), but I’m not actually much of an elevation monger. Just because something is higher doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s harder, more beautiful, more fun, or more valuable an experience.
There are a few specific mountains that pique my interest (Whitney! Humphreys! Gannett!), and trips do pop up here and there. For the time being, though, I’ve got no real desire to actively plan such a trip when there’s so much beauty and adventure in my own backyard.
24 hours straight in the mountains (with an 11k’ summit!) left me in a bit of a caloric deficit. I was actually shaking a bit when I got home. Oops.
- my pack, without my water or food from the overnight, weighed 27.8 pounds.
- my water (164 ounces) = ~11.4 pounds
- my food contribution weighed ~4.5 pounds
- this means that my pack, when we set out, weighed ~44 pounds
- from my highest recorded weight, I have lost 57 pounds
- this means that even with my pack, I was still lugging around less weight in the mountains this weekend than I did back before I lost any weight
- on my first backpacking trip, I weighed 57 pounds more than I do now, and I carried a pack of about the same weight
- that would be like me carrying around a 101 pound pack now
This is too much to think about. Back to my trashed up huckleberry swirl ice cream and fake coffee.*
Welcome back, Friday. It’s good to see you again, as always.
4 of my favorite things this week:
- Getting out of town was so good for me. I am a total homebody, so I don’t travel much, but a weekend with Gloria in San Diego was so good for my heart. Plus, I got a “berry upbeet” smoothie in the airport on my trip back. THE LIFE.
- Girl gang reunited for a nonsensical evening. Jamie used us for company while she got ready for a thing she had to go to, and Jess and I watched Ted Talks and planned out a weekend adventure over huckleberry swirl ice cream and coffee floats. Looks gross, tastes like frakking HEAVEN.
- Preparing for weekend adventures is my idea of fun. Trips to REI and epic kitchen/baking sessions. Last night, Jess blanched a thousand peaches, we made hand pies, and we prepped bagel dough.
- This morning, I woke up, baked some more hand pies, baked some bagels, and packed for a weekend in the mountains. Upon leaving my house, my neighbor looked me up and down and exclaimed, “Well! Looks like you’re about to go have some fun.” Yes. Yes, I am.
3 of my favorite Tumblrs this week:
- pinetreesandcoffee — Dear lord, this dude’s photos. UNF. (I mean the mountains, of course.)
- bourbonandabrunette — Give me her hair. Plz & thx.
- ariavie — Backpacking lust! (Apparently my theme this week for favorite Tumblrs is “green with envy”)
2 of my favorite songs this week:
1 of my favorite inspirations this week:
- runslikeapenguin — She is 100% living her best life, and we should all take note.
Get in, losers. We’re going mountaineering.
voyagebound said: Hmm… I agree with your suggestions whole heartedly A+. I would add How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran (even though I don't LOVE her because she refuses to be an intersectional feminist, I wish I had had read something like this when I was younger) and there's a new collection of essays called Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay that I haven't yet read, but heard amazing things about. Fiction wise, I loved Code Name Verity - WW2 fiction with a very strong pair of female leads.