Bagel Finagle

It was a busy Monday, but it was also a lot of fun. My first order of business was to get to work on the next "formula" in The Bread Baker's Apprentice. The formulas are listed in alphabetical order. So far, I've done the Anadama bread, and the Artos bread (with the Christopsomos version for Christmas). Next up was bagels. Having never made a bagel before, these were somewhat intimidating. Fortunately, they also required that I order and await delivery of some specialty items, and that gave me some time to consider the choices I'd made in life up to now.

But first, some bagel folklore. If you can believe everything you read, then you'll believe that bagels were invented in Austria during the 17th Century as a tribute to the wartime victories of King Jan of Poland. They were supposedly modeled after the shape of his saddle stirrup.

The bagels I am about to show you are considered traditional New York style bagels for their stiff dough and their chewiness. Apparently the soft bagels many of us are accustomed to eating these days are made in a different way. For one thing, they aren't boiled. Instead, they are steamed while they bake. The steaming method means less handling when they are mass produced in bakeries since steam can be injected into the ovens automatically.

To start, I mixed commercial instant yeast with some unbleached high-gluten bread flour and water. High gluten flour contains up to 14% gluten in contrast to regular bread flour, which contains 12% gluten, and all-purpose flour, which contains 10%. The high level of gluten contributes to a stiff dough and a chewy bagel. My goal was a mixture the consistency of pancake batter.

From there, it was allowed to sit at room temperature. The mixture needed to become "very foamy and bubbly . . . swell to nearly double in size, and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop." When I checked it two hours later, there was definitely some bubbling action. Also, it's difficult to see in this image, but it was beginning to balloon out in the center. I tapped it on the countertop, and it barely budged. I didn't think it was ready, and so I left it for an additional 90 minutes.

After 90 minutes had passed, it was much more vigorous. I gave it a couple of more good raps on the countertop. It was jiggly and some bubbles raised from the bottom to the top like a soda bubble, but it didn't collapse. Nevertheless, I decided to go ahead.

While I was waiting for the dough to develop, I was quilting Stars and Stripes. I'm just about halfway across the quilt now, and it's looking fine. Also, it's getting easier to work with as the bulk of the quilt makes it way out of my lap and up onto the table.

Here's how it looks from the back.

Next up for the bagels was to add more high-gluten flour, more yeast, salt, and malt powder. The malt is for flavor and does its work by enzymatically hastening the release of natural sugars bound up in the flour starches. From there, I was to mix the dough until it formed a ball, and then knead it by machine for an additional six minutes. (By hand it would take ten minutes.)

After that, I formed it into rolls, covered them with a damp towel, and let them rest for 20 minutes before shaping the bagels. Aren't they cute?

There were a couple of suggested methods for shaping. I just poked my thumb through the middle and then stretched out the hole. From there, I laid them out on parchment lined baking sheets to rest for an additional 20 minutes.

Next, I was to check to see if they would float. This was accomplished by dropping one bagel into a small bowl of room temperature water. The first one sunk like a rock (along with my heart) to the bottom of the bowl, and it did not return to the surface. I had in mind that the chill in the room might be the culprit, and so I set the baking sheets on a heating pad turned to low. Twenty minutes later, those puppies were floating like olympic swimmers. Yahoo!

Back onto the baking sheet it went with its brethren. Then they were covered with plastic and left to "retard" in the refrigerator overnight.

I was a little tired of quilting, and so I decided to get a start on Challenge 2 for Season 8 of Project Quilting.

The theme for the second challenge is "Carolina Lily". Carolina Lily is a traditional quilt block. In fact, I made a doll quilt from a pattern some years ago for the monthly doll quilt swap.

It was tempting to make another quilt from the same pattern (available free right here), but after giving it some thought, I decided to do something different. Themes for Project Quilting are always up to interpretation, and so I took inspiration from these two books:

And this image of an actual Carolina lily:

There was an applique template in Jean Wells' book. It's for a five-petal flower, and you can see that the lily has six petals. I decided I could adapt this template.

By making two copies of the template, I could cut out the top half of the flower and tape it over the bottom half, thereby creating a template for the lily.

Then I could create the applique pieces and fuse them to the background.

From there, I used the thread-painting techniques from Ann Fahl's book to create shading and texture in the flower, stem, and leaves.

Okay, so I'm not a botanist, and I needed some help from this diagram to describe what I did next.

I used metallic threads to stitch in the "filaments" and the "style." Then I used hot fix nailheads to create the "anthers" and "stigma". If you look at the image above, you can see that the stigma is heart-shaped. (You might need to use your imagination for that.)

Then I used a Shiva Artist's Paintstik to shade the center of the flower.

When the embellishing was finished, it looked like this.

It was hard to decide whether to bind it right there or to give it a border. Usually, when I'm undecided, a flange helps me pull the whole thing together. I used some of the fabric from the largest portion of the flower to create a flange, and then put a border on it.

That's where I left it late yesterday afternoon.

This morning, I was so excited about the bagels, I was up before dawn to boil and bake them. They looked like this after their night in the refrigerator.

My pot could only accommodate three at a time. They boil on one side for one minute. 

Then, they are flipped over and boiled for another minute on the second side.

After that, they were placed back on their baking sheets and topped with a little rehydrated dehydrated onion, a little kosher salt, and a sprinkling of bran flakes. You could also use sesame seeds or poppy seeds...but you know...seeds. (Just say no.)

When they'd all been boiled, they were ready for the 500°F. oven. They were baked five minutes, then rotated, and then an additional five minutes at 450°F.

They were supposed to bake until they were a "light golden brown." Mine didn't really brown much. I left them an additional six minutes, but then I was afraid the onion topping would burn, and so I called it quits. I realized later, I'd forgotten to alkalize the boiling water by adding some baking soda. That might have made the difference in the browning.

They had to cool on a rack for 15 minutes before I could devour one. While I was waiting for them to cool, I sewed the binding on my little quilt.

Then I ate a bagel. Yum! They were really good, even if they were a little bit pale. They took some time, but they weren't difficult. I'd definitely make them again. It was kind of fun, and I'm curious to see if the baking soda in the water would have made a difference insofar as the browning is concerned.

With a bagel in my tummy, I could finish hand-sewing the binding, and my little quilt was finished.

It's simply quilted...I just outlined the shape of the flower. Here's how it looks from the back.

And that, my friends, is a lot packed into a 24-hour period.

This morning I was supposed to have breakfast with Matthew, but there's freezing rain in the forecast. Noooooooooooooooooooooooo! Matthew and I decided to play it safe, and so we rescheduled our breakfast to Thursday. Honestly, we're pretty darned sick of the cold weather at this point. I loved this video I saw on Facebook the other day.

If you can't see the video, click right here. Oh yeah. Definitely. The temperature this morning has been all over the map, but it's hovering right at freezing. Bring on the warm rain! Wash away this snow! It'll be like when we lived in Phoenix, and people ran outside when it rained. Well...maybe not, but we'll be thinking about it. Maybe we'll stick to jumping for joy inside the house.

So with breakfast rescheduled to Thursday, I have the whole day to work on quilting Stars and Stripes, and that's what I'll be doing. It probably won't be finished today, but it'll be close.

25 comments from clever and witty friends:

claudia said...

I love reading your posts, you always brighten my day!!!
I have to say I am in awe of your quilts! First off that Stars and Stripes quilt is beautiful. Your quilting is great!
Then the bagels OMG! They look delicious, and the story you tell about making them. I feel as though I was there watching you do all this. What fun!
I love your challenge of the Carolina Lily. You did so much detail. It turned out so pretty!
As for the weather...I wish that the frozen ground would go away (because of the cold) and it did. Now feeding the outside critters is my challenge because of the mud. Mud season has returned!!! Argh!!! My poor little lawn mower with trailer attached full of hay for the horses and goats needed a lot of coaxing to get through some spots in the mud...then when it said no more, and I had to walk the hay the rest of the way, the mud was trying to pull my shoes off. It's back to my mucking boots and probably using the wheel barrow to deliver the hay. (more exercise for me!)

Jo said...

The flange and border on your lily were a very nice touch. And I love the way you created the stamens. Wonderful work.

Debbie said...

very good adventure in the kitchen....bagels look good enough to eat!!! I always wanted to try the soft version too. Love your lily version, and I also enjoyed thread painting. the flange did the trick to tie it all together.

CJ Smith said...

I said it the other day and I'll say it again. I LOVE the back of the Stars and Stripes quilt! In fact, I think it's my favorite backing that you have shared so far. The stylized stars are the perfect embellishment for the stars on the material. The lily is great! When I grow up I want to be able to whip out quilts like you do!

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

What a cute flower quilt. Thread painting is still way out of my comfort zone. I really need to learn free motion first.

PersimonDreams said...

I love your lily! The flange made a HUGE impact on the piece! So happy you did it! Thanks for joining in the fun ... and now I need to go find some bagels! Yummy!

Vroomans' Quilts said...

The bagels look really good to me! Love the Stars quilting - just adds that extra pop to it. What a cute mini - well done.

Trish Frankland said...

I simply love seeing your process - both for the PQ project and for the bagels. How had I never considered what it takes to make a bagel?! Thanks for the education

crazy quilter said...

Your bagels look yummy! And I adore the quilting on the Stars and Stripes quilt. Your Carolina Lilly is perfect! Keep on keeping on as they say your are awesome! I am sure you feel sick of winter but hold on to your hat it will be spring in no time at all. Nothing but rain and more rain here, but the temps are pretty warm in the 60's. I sure miss the sun hope it comes out tomorrow. I am off to a quilt retreat with my small group and will catch up with you on my return. What are you making next in the bread book!

Brown Family said...

I do like to add a flange to small quits. It gives them a pop! Bagels! They may look pale, but I'll bet they were good. now I want a bagel!

Bizarre Quilter said...

Hurrah! Finished already!

Dana Gaffney said...

I just watched a news report from Portland, it doesn't look good. I love both of the lily quilts you made and I agree with everyone else, the flange added just the right pop.

Quilting Babcia said...

What a fun little project, and your bagels look wonderful. Have you tried them toasted with your tomato jam?

beaquilter said...

great projects and great donuts and I think I have some of those paint sticks too- never used them! hmmm....
King arthur flour (at least some of it, if not all of it) is milled near me, I buy flour from them in big sacks but they are generic labelled as they can't sell me the King arthur name but they make the flour there- so...

Wendy Tuma said...

Your stars and stripes are looking fantastic! The little Carolina Lily quilt is so darn cute! I've never done thread painting, but you make it look easy. Those bagels look really good. I read the process of making bagels awhile ago and thought it was too much work; you made it look simple, so maybe after I'm done with my no bread thing I'll have to try them.

Lynn - JnL4God said...

I am living vicariously through your bread baking. I used to make bread and donuts and cinnamon rolls - now I look like a big cinnamon roll. ha ha. Have a bagel for me - Yummy. Also I like your project quilting challenge. I keep wanting to try one of those and then forget - so I put the dates on my calendar and am going to try for the next one whatever it may be. Have a great day!

Auntiepatch said...

I love the quilting on the back of the quilt. Let me rephrase that: I love how the quilting looks from the back!

quiltingbydawn said...

Well done with the embellishment of your lily! The colors are perfect for the Carolina lily.

Dar said...

Your bagel baking experiment was interesting. They look like donuts. Next time could you make ones with raisins and cinnamon on them. I love anything with cinnamon and nuts. My tummy is growling already. You did a great job on your quilting and embellishing of the Carolina daylily. I have some Shiva paint sticks too, but haven't used them much. You are becoming an expert in many many areas. Will have to bookmark this post for future reference. Thanks much for the inspirations.

Kate said...

My Guy's made bagels, once many years ago. As long as yours tasted good, I'd say they were a success. Sorry you've had such nasty weather. It's warmed up here just a bit. Love your mini Lily! It's gorgeous.

Barbara said...

I love your Carolina Lily. The colors and embellishments delight my eye!

Angie in SoCal said...

what a fabulous solution to this challenge. Love it, Barbara.

Mel Beach said...

Thank you for sharing your design inspiration and process...I really like all the special details you included in your piece!

quiltzyx said...

I am quite sure they are all gone now, but NEXT time you make bagels I think it would be lovely with a schmear of cream cheese & pepper jelly. Just sayin'.

Lyndsey said...

I still haven't tried using a flange but I must because it looks so good. I love the way you finished the flower head. I don't really like bagels but yours do look good.