Saturday, 31 March 2012

Sourdough Bagels on my Mind

I’ve got bagels on my mind. Sourdough Bagels, that is. I’ve been learning about the history of bagels and different techniques for making them so I was getting really hungry for one. I did what any reasonable bread baker would do… I made some.

These bagels are made using the method from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice which utilizes an overnight sponge. I made cinnamon raisin bagels during the BBA Challenge using this method. However, for this sourdough version, I substituted sourdough starter for the sponge. These bagels are made with very simple ingredients: sourdough starter, bread flour, salt, water, yeast and malt.

Sourdough Bagels


Did you know?  For hundreds of years, authentic bagels were hand-formed and rolled out into 6-inch long ropes, looping them into donutlike shapes, and pinching the ends to close the circles. However, in the 1950s, bagel-making machines automated this process. A lot of modern bakeries utilize these bagel-making machines which can produce hundreds to thousands of bagels per hour.

I didn’t roll the bagels out into ropes and loop them, but I did shape them by hand and boil them in a water bath to produce the chewiness that is equated with authentic bagels.



Sourdough Bagels the BBA-way

Adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

Makes: 12 large bagels or 24 smaller bagels



  • 5 cups (35 oz) mature sourdough starter, fed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (.055 oz) instant yeast
  • 3 3/4 cups (17 oz) unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
  • 2 3/4 teaspoons (.7 oz) salt
  • 2 teaspoons (.33 oz) malt powder
  • or 1 tablespoon (.5 oz) dark or light malt syrup, honey, or brown sugar


  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • Cornmeal or semolina for dusting
  • Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, kosher salt (optional)



1) Making the Sponge (from the Sourdough Starter)

Feed your starter with enough flour and water to make 5 cups. I doubled my starter, twice.  Let the starter sit on the counter until it is bubby. I did this several hours before I started the process of making the dough.



2) Making the Dough:

Add the yeast to the sourdough starter and stir.  Then add 3 cups of the flour and all of the salt and malt.  Stir until the ingredients form a ball, slowly working in the remaining 3/4 cup flour to stiffen the dough.



Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for at least 10 minutes. The dough should be firm, but still pliable and smooth. All the ingredients should be hydrated. If the dough seems to dry, add a few drops of water and continue kneading. If the dough seems tacky or sticky, add more flour to achieve the stiffness required. The kneaded dough should feel satiny and pliable but not be tacky.



3) Shaping the bagels

Divide the dough into 4 1/2-ounce pieces for standard bagels, or smaller if desired.



Cover the rolls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for approximately 20 minutes. Line 2 sheet pans with baking parchment and mist lightly with spray oil.



Poke a hole in a ball of bagel dough. Gently rotate your thumb around the inside of the hole to widen it to approximately 2 1/2 inches in diameter. The dough should be as evenly stretched as possible.





Place each of the shaped pieces 2 inches apart on the pans. Mist the bagels very lightly with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the pans sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.



4) Retarding the bagels in the refrigerator

You can check to see if the bagels are ready to be retarded in the refrigerator by using the "float test". Fill a small bowl with cool or room-temperature water. The bagels are ready to be retarded when they float within 10 seconds of being dropped into the water.

Take one bagel and test it. If it floats, immediately return the test bagel to the pan, pat it dry, cover the pan, and place it in the refrigerator overnight (it can stay in the refrigerator for up to 2 days).



5) Preparing to bake the bagels

The following day (or when you're ready to bake the bagels), preheat the oven to 500 degrees with the two racks in the middle of the oven.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil (the wider the pot the better), and add the baking soda. Have a slotted spoon or skimmer ready. Remove the bagels from the refrigerator and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many as can comfortably fit (they should float within 10 seconds).



After 1 minute flip them over and boil for another minute. If you like very chewy bagels, you can extend the boiling to 2 minutes per side.



While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the parchment-lined sheet pans with cornmeal or semolina flour. If you want to top the bagels, do so as soon as they come out of the oven.  I sprinkled some with poppy seeds, some with sesame seeds, some with kosher salt and left a few plain.



6) Baking the Bagels

When all the bagels have been boiled, place the pans on the 2 middle shelves in the oven. Bake for approximately 5 minutes, then rotate the pans, switching shelves and giving the pans a 180-degree rotation.

After rotating the pans, lower the oven setting to 450 degrees and continue baking for about 5 minutes, or until the bagels turn light golden brown (or darker if you prefer). Remove the pans from the oven.


7) Cooling the Bagels

Let the bagels cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving.



My oven was being finicky so the bagels got a bit too crispy (for my liking) in some places.  They were also a little flatter than I had expected. I kept the dough in the refrigerator for the full 2 days so I’m thinking they might’ve risen more if I had baked them the next day. I’ll have to experiment with that next time.

In my research, I found that Montreal bagels are generally flatter and smaller than New York bagels, and they are baked in a wood-fired oven so they have crisper crusts. So there you go…


Happy Baking!


Sunday, 25 March 2012

Gluten-Free Waffles for National Waffle Day

Today is National Waffle Day!  It’s also National Flour Month so I decided to celebrate both events by making gluten-free waffles with different types of flour. 

Flax-Coconut Pancakes are featured on the cover of the March Issue of Food and Wine. I thought they looked divine so I used the same ingredients for the batter, but added a good bit more milk to make these crispy, Gluten-Free Flax-Coconut Waffles.  These delicious waffles are made with brown rice flour, white rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, coconut flour and flaxseed meal.



Milling the Gluten-Free Grains

I went to the Asheville Bread Baking Festival this past weekend and attended a session on milling your own flour with Debi Thomas of Wildflour Bakery in Saluda, NC. She demonstrated milling different types of flour in different kinds of mills. I took photos of some of the mills, but forgot to get a photo of the beautiful Swedish mill.  It was on the other end.


This one is a hand grinder.


This is a Kitchen Aid Mixer with a grain mill attachment.  It actually worked pretty well.



I was still in the milling mindset when I decided to make these waffles. I didn’t have any tapioca starch and thought I was going to have to run to the store, but then I remembered I had an attachment for my WonderMill electric grain mill that allows me to grind smaller grains such as tapioca pearls. I had some tapioca pearls in the freezer so that saved me a trip to the store. I was able to use my new attachment to grind the tapioca pearls into tapioca starch. So cool!


Gluten-Free Flax-Coconut Waffles

A combination of brown rice flour, white rice flour, potato starch and tapioca starch makes an excellent substitution for all-purpose flour. Adding coconut flour provides rich fiber and it’s a good source of protein.

You might enjoy some of these Gluten-free flours for baking.

Makes: About 10 –12 Waffles

Adapted from “Flax-Coconut Pancakes” Food and Wine, March 2011 Issue


  • 1/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/3 cup white rice flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons potato starch
  • 3 tablespoons tapioca starch
  • 3 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted, plus more for the griddle
  • Fresh fruit and maple syrup, for serving


Tapioca Pearls

Tapioca Starch

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I had coconut flour, white rice flour, potato starch and flax meal, but no brown rice flour.  So I ground some brown rice into flour.  It’s pretty cool to see brown rice kernels turn into flour.

Brown Rice

Brown Rice Flour

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1) In a large bowl, whisk the brown and white rice flours with the sugar, potato starch, tapioca starch, coconut flour, flaxseed meal, baking powder and salt.





2) In another bowl, whisk the eggs and milk with the 1/4 cup of coconut oil and mix into the dry ingredients just until the batter is moistened.  Add more milk if the batter is very thick. 


Note: Be sure the milk is room temperature.  Otherwise, the coconut oil will harden when you add it to the other liquid ingredients.  Ask me how I know…


3) Preheat a griddle and brush lightly with coconut oil.    Follow the manufactures instructions for using your griddle.  I used about 2 tablespoons of batter per waffle. I added a good bit more milk, but the first batch was still pretty thick so I added even more milk when I made the rest of the waffles.


4) Remove the waffles to serving plates and serve with fruit and real maple syrup.



As you can see, I enjoyed the bite that was just waiting to be eaten.  The first batch made thick waffles, but the flavor was wonderful. 



For the next batch, I added more milk and let the waffles cook a little bit longer on the griddle so they were slightly more browned and crispy. The coconut flour and coconut oil give these waffles a very unique flavor and the brown rice provides the crispiness. Deliciousness!


Happy Baking!


Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Swedish Rye Bread with Sprouted Wheat Flour

The Bread Baking Babes and Friends have been making Swedish Rye Bread this month. Astrid chose this bread and I really like the flavors: honey, grated orange peel, anise seeds, and caraway seeds. It also includes some white bread flour, rye flour and whole wheat flour.

The Swedish Rye (Limpa) we made in the BBA Challenge was flavored with molasses, citrus peel, anise seeds, fennel seeds, and ground cardamom and utilized an overnight sponge. I was interested to see how this bread compared to that one.

Since it’s National Flour Month, I’ve been baking breads with different types of flours. I had about 2 cups of sprouted whole wheat flour in the freezer so to make this bread even more interesting, I substituted the sprouted wheat flour for regular whole wheat flour and part of the rye flour.  I liked the result.



I got a little bit confused trying to decipher the process as outlined in the original recipe.  Fortunately, I read some of the other BBB posts before I made this bread and was able to adjust accordingly.  Elizabeth decided to ignore part of the recipe in the hopes that it would go away. I laughed my head off because that’s the way I felt when I read that part.  It made my head spin. So, I decided to do what Elizabeth did and ignore the part that didn’t make sense and follow my own process. I omitted the part about folding in the rest of the ingredients because I thought it was contradictory. You can follow my adapted recipe and process or refer to the original instructions as you see fit.


Swedish Rye Bread with Sprouted Wheat Flour

Adapted from Tassajara Bread Book by Edward Espe Brown

You can find the original recipe and instructions here.

Makes: 2 large loaves or 3 Medium Loaves

You can bake the loaves in a loaf pan or freeform.




  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dry yeast
  • 1/3 cups honey
  • 1 cup dry milk
  • 1 tablespoon of dried orange peel
  • 2 teaspoons anise seeds
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 4 cups unbleached white bread flour

Final Dough:

  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 1/2 – 2 3/4 cups rye flour
  • 2 cups sprouted wheat flour



1) Making the Sponge

Dissolve the yeast in water. Add the honey and dry milk plus the oranges and seeds.

Add the flour to get a thick batter. Add one cup of flour at a time, stirring good after each addition. The more flour you add the more you knead to go into a beating mode with your spoon. Best way is to stir up and down in a circular mode from the bottom of the bowl to the surface of the dough. Don’t forget to scrape the sides of the bowl from time to time. After the 4 cups of flour you should have a thick mud-like dough. I just stirred it with my Danish dough whisk in a circular motion.



Beat well with a spoon (100 strokes). Continue to beat until you have a smooth dough. Again pull your spoon under the dough and bring it up to the surface again in a circular mode. The batter will be more elastic while you are doing this as more and more air gets incorporated.


2) Let rise for 45 minutes.

Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place.



3) Mixing the Final Dough

Sprinkle on the salt and pour on the oil.  Stir around the side of the bowl working carefully your way towards the center. Rotate your bowl a little with every stroke you do. Repeat until all of the salt and oil is incorporated.



Sprinkle the flour 1/2 a cup at a time onto the dough. Fold it in while rotating your bowl. Continue until the dough comes away from the sides of your bowl.



4) Knead the Dough

Plop your dough on your kneading board and scrap the remaining flour from the bowl onto the dough.  Keep in mind that your surface should be floured enough to prevent the dough from sticking to much on the board.

Flour your hands and the top of the dough. From the middle of your down stretch it away from you and then fold it back onto the remaining part of the dough. Continue to push down and forward.  Turn the dough a quarter turn. Again continue with the pushing and folding.

Turn, fold, push. Rock forward. Twist and fold as you rock back. Be careful not to stretch the dough too much and tear it. Add flour to the boards as needed. While you continue with the kneading the dough will become more and more elastic, smooth and shiny.

When you are finished, place the dough in your lightly oiled bowl smooth side down, then turn it over so the dough ball is covered lightly with oil. This will prevent the dough from forming a crust on the top while rising.



5) Bulk Fermentation

Cover the bowl with a damp towel (or plastic wrap) and set aside to rise in a warm place. (50.60 minutes until doubled in size)



Punch down your dough with your fists steadily and firmly about 15-20 times. Let rise again 40-50 minutes until doubled in size again.





6) Preheat oven to 350°F.


7) Shape the Loaves

Turn your dough onto the work surface. Form the dough into a ball. Cut the dough into two or three even pieces and form smaller balls again. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes.



This is where I deviated from the instructions.  I shaped my dough balls into batards rather than placing them in loaf pans.

To make the batard shape, gently pat the dough into a rough triangle.



Fold the bottom third of dough, letter-style, up to the center and press to seal, creating surface tension on the outer edge.



Fold the remaining dough over the top and use the edge of your hand to seal the seam closed and to increase the surface tension all over.



Transfer the loaf to parchment paper, seam-side down.



Follow the same process to shape the other two loaves and place them side-by-side on the parchment paper.



8) Scoring the Loaves

Score the tops of the loaves with a 1/2 deep slits to allow the steam to escape.  If you make the scores before the final proofing, they will open up more and give the bread a unique look.



9) Final Proofing

Cover and let rise again. This will take 20-25 minutes.

Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame if you want!  I used the egg wash but not the seeds.



10) Bake the Loaves.

Bake for about 50-60 minutes.

I decided to bake the loaves on a baking stone so I had turned the oven up to 450. Then I placed the loaves (on the parchment paper) directly on the baking stone and baked it with a steam pan underneath. The bottom of the loaves got a little burnt in a few spots so I probably should’ve turned the oven down to 400.  Otherwise, the bread turned out fine.


11) Cool the Loaves

Remove from pan to cool down completely.



12) Slice and Enjoy!

This bread tastes great as a grilled cheese sandwich with turkey and mustard.  I forgot to take a photo of the sandwich but it was delicious.  It also tastes great plain and with peanut butter. Yum!


This bread has been YeastSpotted.  Please visit Wild Yeast to view all of the lovely breads in the roundup.


I would just like to say, that after it’s all said and done, this bread is wonderful and definitely worth the effort of deciphering the original instructions.  I hope you’ll try it!


Happy Baking!


Sunday, 18 March 2012

Honey Graham Oatmeal Bread in the Mountains

I enjoyed two of my favorite things this weekend: bread and the mountains.  I went to a cabin in the mountains with some of my hiking buddies. These ladies know I’m a bread baking fanatic so they asked me if I would bring some homemade bread and jam to sample.  I’m sure you know they didn’t have to ask me twice.

When I found out that Honey Oatmeal Bread was the BOM (Bread of the Month) for the Artisan Bread Bakers, I decided to make it for my weekend adventure. I substituted Graham flour for the regular whole wheat flour so my version became Honey Graham Oatmeal Bread.

There is nothing like enjoying homemade bread and nature in the same setting. This Honey Graham Oatmeal Bread was just the right bread for a relaxing weekend.  It is a delicious and homey bread. We enjoyed it spread with homemade peach and lavender butter and other goodies for an afternoon snack and as PB&J sandwiches with fruit and veggies for a fuss-free dinner.



Honey Graham Oatmeal Bread

Makes: 1 Loaf

Adapted from King Arthur Flour



  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup coarsely ground Graham flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups milk



Place all of the ingredients into the pan of your machine (in the order specified by your manufacturer), program machine for the dough cycle, and press Start.

If you don’t have a bread machine, see King Arthur’s site for traditional instructions.


About 10 minutes into the cycle, check the dough and adjust its consistency as necessary with additional flour or milk. It should be holding together well and forming a nice ball of supple dough.

I checked the bread pan a few times and my dough seemed really dry even after adding a little bit more milk. This was probably because I used coarse ground flour. So I took the dough out of the bread machine and added more milk, then kneaded it by hand until it was soft and supple.

Then I placed the dough ball in a lightly oiled bowl, covered it with plastic wrap, and let it bulk ferment for an hour or so until it had doubled in bulk.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled surface, and shape it into a log. Place the log in a lightly greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

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Cover the pan with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, till it’s crested 1″ to 2″ over the rim of the pan. If desired, score the bread with 3 diagonal slashes using a lame or serrated knife.


Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 190°F or the dough sounds “hollow” when you thump the top of it. If the bread appears to be browning too quickly, tent it with aluminum foil for the final 10 minutes of baking.

Remove the bread from the pan to a cooling rack and brush with melted butter (optional). Let the bread cool completely before slicing and serving.


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I made this bread the day before the trip and sliced the whole loaf right before it was time to go. I placed the sliced loaf in a plastic bread bag. This way, I didn’t have to bring a bread knife with me.



My hiking buddies (and I) really enjoyed this bread.  It tastes great spread with butter, jam, peanut butter or plain.  I’m sure it would also make a great grilled cheese sandwich or French Toast, that is, if there was any left to try it.


Happy Baking!

Cathy image