I love bread. LOVE. I’ve been wanting to make bagels at home for awhile now, but it has always seemed like a daunting process. I worked at The Chesapeake Bagel Bakery when I was in high school (when bagels were all the rage) so I knew the basic process – mix the dough, knead the dough, rise, shape, proof, boil and bake. Not rocket science but they take time and so I kept putting it off.
And then I got a book out of the library and bagels got a lot easier. Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day is the follow up book to Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day which I own and have been using lately to provide our daily bread. The basic idea is that you mix up several loafs-worth of very wet bread dough, let it rise, then store it in the refrigerator. When you are ready to bake a loaf, you scoop out a cantaloupe size ball of dough, do a tiny bit of shaping, let it rise briefly and bake just that. There is no kneading and it really does only take about 5 minutes of actual hands-on time to make bread. Obviously, the dough needs time to do its thing and there is baking time, but that just requires being around the kitchen – not any real work.
This really works for us for several reasons. First, its depressing to me to spend a bunch of time and effort making bread and then the kids inhale it in about ten seconds. Of course, its lovely that they eat it and I feel good the they are eating something homemade and such, but its nice to be able to make a batch of dough and then have it last a couple of days instead of a couple of minutes. Second, since I am mostly at home, its easy to have the bread rising and baking without impinging on my routine. Third, the kids eat it. Did I mention they eat it? Fourth, its a pretty flexible dough and I can use it to make a regular loaf, or rolls, or pizza crust. Fifth, the no-knead thing is great and I can mix the dough up by hand which means I don’t have to get out my mixer which for some reason, is a barrier to me. And last but not least, it makes yummy bread. Shiny crisp crust, soft stretchy bubble interior – its just about perfect with butter and honey. I am anxious to try out the “healthy” versions because I would really like to incorporate more whole grains in our bread. The initial version has whole wheat and rye flour in it, but it is primarily all-purpose flour. I’m excited to try the new versions.
The bagels caught my eye this morning though and all I had to do was add the amendments to some of my existing dough – in this case, cranberries, cinnamon and sugar – and then shape them. They rose for 20 minutes and then I boiled them in simmering water with sugar and baking soda in it. I popped them in the oven for 25 minutes and then Sunday morning got just a little bit better.
They were good enough that David and Tommy decided to call a truce in Memoir ’44 -which was lucky for David because Tommy had him on the run.