Sourdough Bagels: a love story

Bagels are pretty much amazing, right?  Chewy, dense, and able to provide a lot of cream cheese delivery ability.  I’ll admit that I’m a little picky about my bagels though; don’t try to feed me bagel shaped bread and expect me to eat it, ok?  Bagels aren’t bread. Bagels are bagels.  Don’t mess with this.

We had an ok bagel place in Texas but Tennessee is sadly lacking in bagels.  Its been a few months now and my need for a bagel was pretty overwhelming, so I’ve been plowing through recipes looking for a good option.  First, I tried the recipe from Classic Sourdoughs, a book I really like.  I am chalking that failure up to my halving the recipe though as the dough was soft and ultimately bready.  They couldn’t hold their shape during boiling so I ended up just baking them.  bleh.

I finally came upon the recipe for 100% sourdough bagels over at The Wild Yeast Blog.  The pictures looked amazing and I loved the no additional yeast thing.  Then, when I was admiring some bagels on instagram (who doesn’t do that?), azture mentioned they were from the same recipe I had been eyeing.  It was meant to be.

I made a few slight changes to the recipe.  I didn’t have high gluten flour or vital wheat gluten on hand (though I have since gotten some from amazon to try with), so I used bread flour.  I also kneaded it all by hand since thats my thing.  The dough was super tough to knead but came together nicely.  I kneaded it for maybe 15-18 minutes.

Where I differ with the wild yeast blog was in the shaping.  I tried the rolling method but…its a total pain in the ass.  The dough is super tough and elastic even after a resting period and sticking the ends together with water is too fussy for me.  Poke my finger though the ball and shape the bagel all the way.  It takes 1/zillionth of the time.

Proof, refrigerate overnight and they are ready for the final steps in the morning.  I was a little intimidated of the boiling part since my previous attempt at bagels went south here but I trusted in the dough.

They held together and, while they looked a little gross, I knew this step would give me that amazing exterior shell that really differentiates bagel from bread.

Baked!  My bagels could have been a little more evenly sized but whatever.

Sourdough Bagels

Ingredients:

  • 349 g bread flour
  • 121 g cold water
  • 28 g baker’s dry milk powder (King Arthur Flour’s is the best here)
  • 16.4 g non-diastatic malt powder
  • 10.1 g (1 2/3 teaspoons) salt
  • 301 g active 100%-hydration sourdough starter
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda for boiling

Combine all the ingredients (except the baking soda for boiling).  Mix with a spoon in a bowl until it becomes to difficult to work.  Turn out and knead for 15+ minutes or until your dough is smooth and satiny.  Cover the dough and rest for 10 minutes to help it relax before shaping.

Divide dough into 8 pieces and shape into a ball.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes or so.  Prepare a sheet pan with parchment and a heavy sprinkling of semolina flour.

Shape each bagel by sticking your finger through the center of the ball and gently pulling it into a bagel shape.  Make the hole a little bigger than you think to account for puffing during the long rise.

Cover with cling wrap and proof at room temperature for 4 hours.  Then put in the fridge overnight (or about 8 hours).

In the morning, turn the oven to 425 and start a large pot of water to boil and get a cooling rack with a towel or sheet pan under it ready.  Once the water reaches boiling, add the baking soda and stand back!  It will bubble up a bit and then calm back down.

Add the bagels a few at a time for 20 seconds each.  If your bagels don’t sink/stay under water in the beginning, just flip them halfway through the boil.

Remove and allow to drain for a few minutes.  If your bagel’s holes have closed up, you might want to dab the top with a towel.  Transfer back to the semolina dusted sheet pan and put them in the oven.  Turn the oven down to 400.  Bake for 20-27 minutes or until golden brown. Open the oven halfway through to vent any steam out.

Allow to cool on a cooling rack.

Eat with cream cheese!

Banana Muffins

  
There is something super sad to me about a bunch of browning bananas. No one wants to eat them and they are even too ugly to use in a smoothie. I could freeze them and keep them for banana ice cream but, honestly, they just get lost in the freezer. 

  

The answer is clearly muffins. Turn that frown upside down, bananas! You are going to go from the saddest part of the fruit basket to the most desirable baked good in the house!

  
I’ve made banana muffins on the blog before but that recipe called for more bananas than I had (and I was far too lazy to adjust the recipe), so I google around until I found this one and it turns out it’s much more delicious and banana-y than my other recipe. See kids? Laziness pays off sometimes. 

Banana chocolate chip muffins
1-1/2 cups (180 grams) all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 medium ripe bananas

1 large egg

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup of chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375.

In a large bowl, mash the banana with a fork. Add the eggs, oil, and vanilla and mix well.  Add the dry ingredients and gently stir until just combined.  Add the chocolate chips stirring just a few times to distribute. 
Fill muffin cups nearly full and bake until golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean (about 18-22 minutes). Allow to cool for a few minutes in the pan then turn out onto a cooling rack. 

  

Chicken Pot Pie

I am of a certain generation that cannot think of chicken pot pie without thinking of Cartman from South Park.  I didn’t even really like that show but yet the most popular lines from the show were basically everywhere for several years.  Good grief, I feel sorry for anyone named Kenny during that time.  In the end, I have to say, I am on Cartman’s side when it comes to pot pie–don’t touch my chicken pot pie.

 

This isn’t a dish I make often because it does require quite a bit of prep and a lot of steps but the elements can be made ahead and assembled just before baking if you want a faster weeknight meal.  Its also a great way to use up leftover chicken.  I always roast two chickens when I’m making one for dinner–it doesn’t require any more time really and then you have cooked chicken ready for a dish like this (or soup!).

The key to making a quick (relatively, anyway) chicken pot pie is all in the mise en place.  Get everything out and ready to go so you can work quickly.  You don’t want your vegetables overcooking while you are trying to get the milk out of the fridge and measured.  That way lies madness–so get everything chopped, measured, and ready to go before you turn on the burner.

 

 

 

If you aren’t using leftover chicken, you’ll need to cook yours up.  It isn’t necessary to fully cook the chicken at this stage though–the carryover heat as well as the 40+minutes in the oven will finish it off for you.  Just get it so the outside isn’t pink any longer.

Then, remove the chicken and cook the rest of the filling.  All the veg and spices go in together with a little bit of vegetable oil.  Let them cook for a few minutes (again, we aren’t looking for done here, just started).  When the onions are translucent, its time to make the gravy.

I like to make a well in the middle of the vegetables so I can keep an eye on the butter.  Allow it to just melt, then dump in the flour.

It will be a pasty mess.  Its ok.  Just stir it around as best you can without mushing all your vegetables up.  Make sure all the flour has been moistened and let it cook for a few minutes to turn it from yucky raw flour taste to a more lovely nutty taste.

Then add your milk/stock mixture and stir continuously.  It will be very soupy for a while and then, like magic, it will thicken.  Its almost ready here.  Once it coats the back of the spoon and holds a sharp line when you run your finger across it, its done.  Turn off the heat because its time to make a Rough Puff Pastry.  Cube your (very cold) butter and add it to the flour/salt mixture.  Try to handle everything as little as possible as we are trying to keep it cold.  I put my bowl for this in the freezer for an hour or so while I was working on the filling.

With a pastry cutter (or a bench scraper), chop the butter into the flour until the pieces are almond sized.  Then, add the ice water 2 tblsp at a time until the dough just barely comes together.  You can do this with a spoon in a cold bowl or on your counter, whichever you prefer.  Working with your bench scraper and rolling pin, you want to roll/beat out the dough into a rectangle (about 8×10), then fold it in thirds as you would a letter.  Then turn it 90 degrees and repeat 3x.  This is what creates all the little layers in your crust.

 


This might get hard as the dough tightens up, just do the best you can.  Once youve made 4 or so folds, fold it one more time to be a small rectangle.  Wrap it in cling film and allow it to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.  While that is resting, you can decide if you want one large pie or several small individual ones.  I opted for a large pie but you’ll need 4 16 oz ramekins for individual sized.

 

Roll out your pastry and use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut one large or four small circles about 1 inch larger than your dishes.  Fill the dishes with the filling and then brush the pastry with the egg wash.  put the egg wash side down on the filling and then egg wash the top.

 

Time for the oven!

If you make one large pie, you’ll have to kind of dish out the filling since this is on the thin side.  After opting for a large pie, I wish I had made several smaller ones to avoid the messy filling issue.  The taste however?  Amazing.  Tender chicken, tasty vegetables, and a super flaky buttery crust on top.

 

Chicken Pot Pie with Rough Puff

Adapted from Alton Brown’s Recipe

Filling:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced 1/4-inch thick

4 ounces fresh green beans, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
2 medium celery stalks, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
2 ounces unsalted butter
3 ounces all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups whole milk, room temperature
6 ounces frozen green peas

Pastry Crust:
10 ounces bread flour
2 ounces whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon fine kosher salt
10 ounces unsalted butter, cubed and frozen
12 tablespoons ice water

Egg Wash:
1 large egg beaten
1 tablespoon water

Directions

Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F.

For the filling: Place 1 tablespoon vegetable oil into a 10-inch cast-iron skillet and set over high heat until it shimmers. Add the chicken, season with 1 teaspoon of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is no longer pink on the outside but not dry, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside in a medium bowl.

Decrease the heat to medium and heat the remaining tablespoon vegetable oil in the skillet until it shimmers. Add the onions, mushrooms, carrots, celery, green beans, garlic, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, black pepper, dried thyme, and dried tarragon, and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened, about 5 minutes. Make a well in the center and add the butter and melt. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually stir in the chicken broth and milk. Bring to a simmer, stirring continually. Continue stirring until the sauce thickens, about 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the peas, thyme, tarragon, and reserved chicken. Cover and set aside.

For the crust: Combine the bread flour, whole wheat flour, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Place in the freezer for 1 hour.

Place the flour mixture and butter in a mound on a clean work surface. Use a bench scraper to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is crumbly and the butter pieces are about the size of almonds. Add the ice water, 2 tablespoons at a time, and mix into the dough, using the bench scraper, until it just barely comes together. Do not add too much water, it will come together.

Shape into a rectangle and pound with a rolling pin until it is about the size of a sheet of notebook paper, approximately 8 1/2 by 11 inches.

Use the bench scraper to fold the dough into thirds, like a letter. Pound with the rolling pin until the piece of dough is again the size of a sheet of notebook paper and rotate 90 degrees. Repeat the pounding, folding, and rotating 2 more times for a total of 4 turns of the dough.

Pound with rolling pin and fold the shorter sides of the rectangle in towards the center, from top to bottom, and then fold in half, like a book. Wrap in parchment paper and refrigerate for 1 hour.

For the egg wash: Combine the beaten egg and water in a small dish and set aside.

To build the pie: Divide the warm filling into 4 (16-ounce) ramekins and place on a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  (I made a large single pie and regret not making several smaller ones as the pastry would have been better if it had been smaller and puffed more in the center.

Remove the puff pastry from the refrigerator. Divide in half. Return one half to the refrigerator. Sprinkle lightly with flour and roll to 1/4-inch thick and, using your ramekins as a guide, cut 2 circles that are 1/2 inch wider than the rim, using a sharp knife or pizza cutter. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Refrigerate excess dough for another use.

Brush each dough round with egg wash and place egg washed-side down onto the top of each filled ramekin. Brush the top of the pastry with egg wash. Bake for 15 minutes. Decrease the heat to 400 degrees F and bake until the crust is puffed and golden brown and the filling is bubbly, another 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before serving.

 

Hot Fudge Buttercream

I’m not going to lie–its been a crazy few weeks here at chez piehole.  I’ve been in the kitchen-and even taking pictures–but never actually getting them together for posts.  I’ve got a backlog though, so we will be back to our regular schedule asap.

Today, I want to talk about hot fudge.  Not just any hot fudge–the best hot fudge in the world: Sander’s Hot Fudge.  Try it once and you’ll never go back.

 

 

This stuff is really only available in Michigan or areas around the Detroit area.  Thankfully, we life in the future and can order things from the interwebs.  This stuff is actually pretty cheap for hot fudge and, sadly, the shipping is pricey, so I buy the big cans and stock up.  Obviously, its amazing on ice cream (or straight from the can with a spoon) but I was left wondering what else I could do with this marvel of science.  After thumbing through a cookie book, I came up with the idea of Hot Fudge Buttercream.

As it was my first time making it, there were a lot of small additions to get the frosting to come together so the totals below are my best guesses.  Use your cooking smarts and add powdered sugar or cream to even out your frosting to the consistency you want.

I ended up adding a few drops of orange coloring to mine and then frosting some basic pumpkin shaped cookies.  All in all, I love this buttercream (which really isn’t a buttercream since there isn’t any butter..) and I can see using it for frosting or a cake.

Hot Fudge Frosting

1/4-1/3 cup of Hot Fudge

4 cups of powdered sugar

1/4 cup of heavy cream

 

Combine the hot fudge and powdered sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer.  Start the mixer and let the two ingredients combine–it will be dry and powdery.  Add heavy cream a few tablespoons at a time until the frosting reaches the consistency you like.