23 March 2011

bagels and pretzels

In 1998 while working as a travel agent I was invited to visit New Brunswick by New Brunswick Tourism. I had an amazing three days touring the fundy coast and fell in love with that area of Canada.

While there I visited the Inn on the Cove which was a small inn that served breakfast and dinner (by appointment). I was able to tour the Inn and the Inn keepers Ross and Willa Mavis made a delicious dinner. At that time they had a small local cooking show and a cookbook.

I loved the dinner. I had been married less than a year and I was trying to learn to cook. Ross Mavis (the main cook) was so friendly and easy going and was happy to admit to being a self taught cook that I bought one of the cookbooks.

The pink scribble is an added embellishment by one of my kids. "Tide's Table" was the first cookbook I bought without pictures and was the start of my cookbook collection. I have made many of the recipes in this book and have since bought additional copies to give away. From this book I learned how to make my own granola and from the Raspberry-lemon muffins I learned to LOVE making muffins. One of the other recipes that I love and don't make often enough is their recipe for...

Fresh homemade bagels are unlike anything you can buy in the store (excepting maybe Montreal here in Canada). They are very easy to make as well...

you start with 4 1/2 cups bread flour (although I usually use all-purpose and sometimes use a mix of 3 cups white and 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour)

Make a well with the flour and in the well place 2 Tbsp sugar (although I think you could get away with less) and 2 1/4 tsp yeast. Add 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water.

 Here in the interior of BC I have had to add a bit more water as I mix the dough - not as much humidity here.  Wait five to ten minutes for the yeast mixture to foam up...

When it is all foamy sprinkle 1 Tbsp salt around the flour (I actually only use half that) and stir the flour into the yeast mixture. Mix until combined and then move dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for approximately 10 minutes...

or a little longer if you have help...

When the dough is nice and smooth and stretchy (and you can press a finger into the dough and the dough bounces back up) place the dough into a greased bowl. Cover and rest for about 15 minutes.

Divide dough into 16 equal parts for bagels or 32 parts for pretzels (or do what I did and make 16 pretzels and 8 bagels). Roll each piece into a snake like shape about 8 or 9 inches long for bagels and 12 inches long for pretzels. Shape the bagels into a circle and press to seal. For the pretzels, cross the dough at the end and press to seal. Place shaped dough on lightly floured surface and let rest for approximately 20 minutes.

When the dough is resting place a pot of water on to boil. Larger pots work better as they hold more bagels/pretzels; I actually use two just to make things go faster. When the water is boiling turn it down to a simmer. Gently place bagels/pretzels in simmering water (leave room for a little expansion).

Simmer the dough for about six minutes, flipping them over once.  After the six minutes remove the simmered dough to a dry tea towel and sprinkle bagels with your choice of toppings. I just used maldon salt on these ones but you can use sesame seeds, poppy seeds, caraway seeds, fennel seeds...use your imagination! Move to lined baking trays and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven and bake pretzels for 15 minutes and bagels for 35 minutes.
apparently my camera and my camera skills do not like the hot oven...or a very steamy 5x10 kitchen!
When baked - cool on cooling racks. They are SO good straight out of the oven that I did not even get a picture of the pretzels...there was a line up and they were gobbled up too fast!
Yours may look better than mine did...when you make them with a three year old you have to make certain sacrifices. The bagels are excellent served with cream cheese for breakfast the next morning. I have never had them around for more than 24 hours so I am not sure how long they will last...I assume they would freeze well.
That is about all that is new in my corner of the world...we are just enjoying spring break with my sister and her family and the sunshine that is melting the snow...at this rate it should FINALLY be gone by April!
Happy Spring!

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