Homemade Plain Bagels

Recipes

I am a breakfast fanatic. It is hands down my favorite meal of the day and one of my favorite meals to cook. It’s even more satisfying to make breakfast with breads that I’ve made myself. I’ve used my french bread recipe for french toast, regular toast and avocado toast – all of which were made so much better by having homemade bread. But what’s the next best bread you can get for breakfast? Bagels. You can make bagel sandwiches, toast them and add cream cheese, top them with avocado and tomato and pretty much anything else you can think of! Heck – you can even use bagels for lunch! So when I found this bagel recipe from 2009 on a blog called Sophisticated Gourmet, I knew I had to try it. It ended up being much easier than I expected and the results were delicious. Bonus – not only do they taste great they look so impressive! The first time I made them I was dorkishly proud of myself for having accomplished what I thought might be a total disaster.

Making bagels for the first time was a little terrifying – not gonna lie. Not only is the shaping part a bit daunting, but did you know you have to boil bagels before you bake them? But don’t worry! These are actually super easy to make. I think the hardest part is getting the shape right, but I was able to do it easily on only my second batch. These are also fun because of the combinations of fillings and toppings you can add. So far I’ve used sesame seeds and chia seeds on top and have really loved both. I left out the egg wash mentioned in the original recipe in order to keep these vegan, but if that’s not an issue for you you could always do an egg wash to make a sticky seal for your toppings. I found that adding the toppings after boiling made it sticky enough even if some of the seeds do fall off (doesn’t that happen to all bagels?). The next time I make these I want to try either blueberries or raisins and cinnamon. The original recipe doesn’t say how to do this exactly, but I think I’ll play with it a little bit and post an update if it ends up working.

Like I said before, the most difficult part of this recipe for me was the shaping part, so I wanted to talk a little bit about that. Once you have your dough separated and ready for shaping, you want to make sure you do it on an unfloured surface. I used flour my first batch when trying to roll “perfect dough balls” and quickly realized I made a mistake. The extra flour actually made it more difficult to remove the creases and folds. Roll the dough balls on a clean, unfloured surface to make sure you can get good smooth textures on your dough balls. I found that creating little round loaves first made it easier. Do this by slightly flattening out each peach of dough and then folding and pinching the edges underneath. This will give you a rounded top with all the seams on the bottom. Then you can roll the seamed bottom on the counter top lightly with your hand to smooth it out as much as possible. I went to Youtube and looked up “how to roll out dough balls” and that helped me, but maybe it’s not as difficult for other people. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get into the recipe.

First ever batch of bagels

Plain Bagels

1 packet of active yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp)

1 1/2 Tbsp of sugar

1 1/4 cups of warm water, split into 3 parts – 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/4 cup

3 1/2 cup bread flour, I used Bob’s Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour

1 1/2 tsp salt

Toppings – you can really put whatever you want on top, I used sesame seeds and chia seeds

  1. Add the yeast and the sugar to 1/2 cup of warm water and let sit for 5 minutes until foamy. At the end of 5 minutes, stir to dissolve the sugar.
  2. While the yeast mixture sits, combine your bread flour and salt in a large bowl and create a well in the middle.
  3. Once yeast mixture is foamy, pour into the well in the flour along with an additional 1/3 cup of warm water.
  4. Using a stand mixer and a bread hook, mix ingredients together slowly adding remaining 1/4 cup of warm water until a firm but somewhat sticky ball of dough forms in the bowl.
  5. Once dough is form, use the stand mixer to knead for about 5-7 minutes. You want a firm dough at the end.
  6. Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with damp paper towels. Let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  7. After 1 hour, punch dough down and let rise another 10 minutes.
  8. Once dough has risen, separate into 8 equal parts. You can use a scale for this, but I just estimate it by sight.
  9. Roll each section into dough balls. You want these as smooth as possible on top. Once you have all your dough balls set out, cover a finger in flour and press through the center of each ball to create a hole. You want the holes to be fairly large as they will shrink quite a bit in the next rise and when they back in the oven.
  10. Once all of your dough balls look like little raw bagels, let rise for another 10 minutes on a baking sheet (covered in another damp paper towel, or I use the same one from earlier).
  11. While the bagels are rising, bring a large pot of water to boil and preheat your oven to 425°F.
  12. Once the bagels are done rising, turn down the heat on your boiling water and gently place each one into the water using a slotted spoon. You can do these one at a time or do as many as you feel comfortable at one time. I do batches of 4. Boil each side for 1-2 minutes. The longer you boil, the chewier the texture of your bagels will be.
  13. After you’ve boiled each side, place them back onto you baking sheet and add desired toppings. Make sure they are still a bit soggy when you do this so that the toppings will stick.
  14. Place bagels in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
  15. Once completely baked, remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.
  16. Pat yourself on the back because you just made your own bagels. Take that Noah!
  17. Enjoy!

Easy French Bread

Recipes

Going into 2019, I knew I wanted to make some changes to my everyday life. Some of these changes included more physical activity, a period of detox and some food changes, but overall I think my main focus is becoming more self-sustainable. This is fairly broad but to me it means making more of my own food, or growing it, and depending less on the idea that I have to spend money to take care of myself. This also ties in with the idea of sustainability, such as reusing items, buying less, and contributing less to our growing garbage problem. Basically, I want to buck societal norms and get back to a simpler way of life. Maybe I’ll do another post on my reasoning and inspiration behind this entirely, but for now let’s just stick to one point specifically.

One of my main resolutions for 2019 is to become more self-sustainable with my food. This includes making more of my own items from scratch, such as breads, sauces, jellies etc., as well as growing a larger garden than I did last year. Obviously with it being January, starting the garden is a couple months away, so to keep myself busy until then, I’ve been learning how to make things that I can do inside away from the blustery weather. My favorite of these so far is bread. Bread is one of those things that I think makes a kitchen feel homey and inviting. The smell, the process and the feeling of being able to create something so simple and yet so widely consumed is very special to me. I remember my mom making bread and rolls and pastries and thinking that she must possess some kind of magic to be able to create things that were even better than store bought. As I got older, I seriously thought that I needed some kind of special training or voodoo to be able to accomplish the same thing. The whole process seemed so complicated. The yeast rising, the kneading, the rolling – it all felt so out of reach. What if I messed up? What if my bread didn’t rise? What if I fail? It seems very dramatic, I know, but I do feel like this is the stigma around bread (or dough in general)! Finally, I mustered the courage to give it a shot, and I’m happy to report that tasty baked goods aren’t just for those with fairy dust. With no tricks up my sleeve, and no magic bread-wand, I am able to confidently create warm loaves of bread that make my house smell as if a bakery exploded in my kitchen.

The most difficult part of making bread, I think, is the time consumed to create it. It’s not like making cookies where prep time takes 20 minutes and you bake each batch for 8 minutes and voila! – cookies for everyone! It’s at least a 2-3 hour process because of the rising times. Now, don’t get me wrong, waiting for dough to rise is not difficult in the slightest. You literally do nothing but wait (which for those of us without patience can be quite trying). With a stand mixer, your job is even easier. Pour contents into mixer, wait; pull contents out of mixer, wait; put contents into oven, wait. OK, so maybe it’s not THAT simple, but it’s close. This bread recipe is one of the first that I’ve tried that isn’t a “30 Minute Roll” or a quick bread recipe (like banana or pumpkin). The first time I attempted it, I doubled the recipe and was able to give one loaf away. The bread was good, don’t get me wrong, but it was a little more dense than I had hoped it would be. So, for my second try, I did only one loaf and I tweaked the recipe a bit to what I thought might provide a better outcome. And boy, was I pleased when my fragrant and golden brown loaf was ready to come out of the oven. Not only did it smell divine, it looked like one of the prettiest things I’ve ever been able to bake. As I pulled it out and checked it for done-ness (a fully baked loaf of bread should sound hollow when you tap on it) I think my eyes may have welled up a bit, like I was holding my very own baby for this first time. It was perfect. I slathered the baby in melted butter and waiting for it to cool a bit before digging in. OK, comparing the bread to a baby now sounds wrong… and quite gross. Anywho, I paired this perfect loaf with my Vegan “Chicken” Noodle Soup and could not have been happier with the results. It was light, it was buttery and filled with carby, bready goodness.

I guess what I’m getting at here, is if I can make bread, so can you. You’d be surprised at how much money it could save you versus buying bread at the store. We’ve used this bread now for french toast, dipping and just for snacking, but I think it could also be used for sandwiches, homemade croutons, bread pudding and pretty much anything else. And money isn’t the only thing you’re saving. Think of all the plastic wrapping and those little plastic bread clips and zip ties you aren’t throwing away. I like to keep my homemade bread in a small paper bag on the counter, but I’ve also heard you can wrap it in foil or make fabric bread bags (which I may do with some fabric scraps in the future). So cast your doubts aside and get your butt in the kitchen. You don’t need any special skills or bread fairy dust for this recipe, just a few hours to wait for the dough to rise and a bit of optimism.

Do you like to make your own bread? What are your favorite recipes? And what are some ways that you try to make your home more self-sustainable?

<b>Easy French Bread</b>

1 packet of active dry yeast

2 Tbsp sugar

1 cup warm water (for yeast activation)

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp vegetable oil, plus more for coating large bowl

  1. Dissolve sugar in warm water. Once sugar is mostly dissolved, add yeast and let sit for 5-10 minutes or until foamy.
  2. Once foamy, add the salt, vegetable oil and half of the flour. Stir to combine (I use my stand mixer with a dough hook throughout this whole process).
  3. Add the rest of the flour and mix until a dough ball forms. I let this knead in the mixer for about 4-6 minutes.
  4. Coat a large bowl with vegetable oil and place dough ball inside to rise. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a dish towel to keep any drafts out. Let sit for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  5. Once doubled, remove dough and work with your hands for a few minutes. Stretch it out in a rectangular shape and roll into a loaf, folding the ends under to create the rounded edges.
  6. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicon baking sheet and let rise for another hour. At this point I like to slice little lines into the top of my loaf. Some people wait until the rising time is complete – to each their own, do what makes you happy. I like my lines to be smaller so that’s why I do it before.
  7. After the hour is up, preheat your oven to 375°F and bake for 25 minutes.
  8. Enjoy the smell coming from your oven and prepare for goodness.
  9. Once the bread has finished baking (tap to ensure that it’s done), remove from the oven and brush melted butter over the top. Move to a cooling rack and let rest before slicing.
  10. Pat yourself on the back, because you just made your very own French bread! Well done!



Rosemary Bread

Recipes

Bread, bread, magical bread. Is there anything better than bread? It’s even better when you can make it at home and serve and eat it warm right from the oven. I had never been one for making bread before. Sure I had tried a couple easy roll recipes now and then, but I had never gotten into making actual loaves or rounds before (other than quick bread recipes like pumpkin or banana). But, this year for my birthday, I bought myself my first ever Kitchenaid – lucky me my birthday is always near Black Friday ;). And ever since having this beautiful piece of equipment, I’ve been baking up a storm. Cookies, cheesecakes, muffins, but best of all bread. I’ve been making about two loaves with every recipe I try so that I’m able to make one and give one away to my carb-loving friends. Their favorite recipe so far? This amazing rosemary bread. I’ve been told it’s identical to the bread from Macaroni Grill, but since I haven’t been there in several years I can’t say for sure. Either way, this bread is delicious, flavorful and perfect as a side or all on its own.