Sunday, 23 December 2007

The Daring Bakers: Bagels

For this month's Daring Baker's challenge, we were to make a very festive (and decoratively impressive) yule log. So I've made bagels.

Hang on...

Yes, so this month's assignment was a yule log, and some of the examples you'll see out there are absolutely incredible to look at. Reading through the recipe, though, I realistically realized I wouldn't have the time to devote to the logging
process and so would have to skip my the challenge. To still get into the daring spirit of things and as an homage to the group, I decided to resurrect the recipe that first tempted me into the bosom of the DB'ers: bagels (and, to be fair, making it now is also because I had been talking big to my work colleagues about how London bagels didn't taste anywhere near as good as New York bagels, and I felt it was time to put my bagel where my mouth was, so to speak). When I saw that the Daring Bakers had made what I regarded to be the finest bread recipe known to man, I knew I'd find kinship with the group.

I first tried out these bagels earlier this year, and
my eyes shone with happy tears when I bit into my first one - the flavor was so perfectly New York that with one mouth-full I got a bit homesick. Even though I do bring back to London as many bagels as I can fit into my suitcase each time I visit home, they somehow get eaten rather quickly and don't last out the time period until my next visit to NY. Bagels rank high on my list of foods that might bring me to fisticuffs with Mr A&N if he tries to steal one, or in his terminology 'share' them (I mean, c'mon - I stick the bagels into **my** suitcase in lieu of bringing something else back. If he had wanted some, he should have gone to the same effort).

London bagels are different in both taste and texture from New York bagels. Really, they are just circles of bread with holes in the middle: they are crumbly in the middle (instead of having great stretchy air-pockets of gluten) and don't have the same subtle sweetness of a real bagel. I've had some Londoners swear blind to me that such-and-such beigal bakery (as they spell it here) is better than the others, or promise me that this one boils their dough unlike all the others, but I've never found anything of adequate quality.

So when my frustration with bagels reached high enough h
eights that I had to take matters into my own hands, I google'd around the internet until I found this recipe from Johanne Blank for Real Honest Jewish Purist's Bagels. Not only does it produce stunning bagels, but it is also the most enjoyable recipe I've ever read, making the process that bit more fun. They're not at all hard to make (at least that's what I say to everyone who I'm encouraging to make them for themselves) but they do take a bit of time commitment.

I still haven't achieved the gargantuan puffy bagel beauties that I can get in New York, but I may need to add more yeast to the dough. The taste though...perfect. I use a combination of sugar and honey in the mixture and the honey real
ly does draw out that special flavor. When I brought them into work last week, everyone commented that they were entirely different than what they'd tasted before, and all the better for it. Of course, they would have to say that, because I just went through the effort of making bagels for them.

Like most of you, I've been and promise to be a bit busy of this Christmas break, traveling places and hosting family and friends, so this will probably be the last blog post until the New Year. Do have a look around at all the proper Daring Baker yule logs, though - a very festive baking project sure to impress you. I hope everyone has a healthy and happy holiday season and gets their fair share of food, relaxation, love and laughter.


Baking Soda said...

You had me with that first lines! Bringing back sweet memories from that mindboggling bagel day we had back in June; if that's what bagels do to you bring me bagels every time!

Pille said...

I loved the first paragraph, too :)

Brilynn said...

Beautiful yule log!... er bagels... they were tasty, I should make them again...

Anonymous said...

Haha at first I thought you made a typo of some sort on the title! When I read the start of the post I was still confused! Enjoy your holidays =)

Dolores said...

In a forest full of fallen logs, bagels are the perfect mid-afternoon Christmas snack. I'm glad you joined in, even a few months in arrears.

Merry Christmas to you and your family, and best wishes for a happy healthy new year.

Julius said...

Thanks for all the kind words you've left on my blog. :)

I wish you a very Happy Holidays and a bright new year ahead!

Julius from Occasional Baker

Lis said...

hehehee I loved this post =) And how cool that our hostess found the same bagel recipe as the one you love! Yes we were definitely made to be together! =)

Happy holidays, sweetie!


Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Hope you've had a great Christmas Annemarie. Happy New Year and hope 2008 brings you all that you wish for. xx

chou said...

What a great way to celebrate with all of us while maintaining your sanity. Happy holidays.

Anonymous said...
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Quellia said...

Well I don't feel too bad you didn't make a yule log since you went back to bagels instead - I am a proud "mama" of you as a bagel maker! Brings tears to my eyes! (hehe can you tell I'm tickled that you liked my choice for that month?)
Hope you had a great Christmas and New Years and look forward to seeing your version of next month's challenge!

Annemarie said...

Hi Baking Soda - Bagels are magical things. :)

Hi Pille - thanks. ;)

Hi Brilynn - it's a different sort of Christmas round here this year!

Hi Cerise - yes, I like to keep my readers on their toes!

Hi Dolores - thanks very much, and hope your holidays were good, too.

Hi Julius - Thanks. :)

Hi Lis - I think I qualify as quirky enough to be a DB, a trait established by the founders. ;)

Hi Amanda - thank you, and the same wishes to your family.

Hi Chou - Sanity? Well....

Hi Quellia - I'm very pleased to have you as my bagel-mamma, since I think that choice showed some superior taste and wisdom. :)

David said...

Sorry if this is a stupid question, but I'm new to baking and such. Is it possible to use honey in place of sugar, completely, when baking.
I've been using honey for the most part for awhile now ever since a friend told me about Holy Food Imports which sells excellent products.
I heard honey is healthier so thats why I'm trying to use it more than sugar. I also prefer the taste.