You win some…

26 Sep

It’s been a crazy week in the lab, and consequently a very lonely week for my kitchen (and my cat), but this weekend I knew I could make things right. So on Saturday I bought a laser pointer for Moseley, and on Sunday I decided to make bagels. It would be the culinary undertaking of a lifetime, and make for a pretty exciting blog post. I’ve never attempted homemade bagels, despite thoroughly enjoying those made by my far more ambitious sister. In fact, I’d never made any yeasted bread before, but I found the easiest, most highly rated recipe on Allrecipes and figured, what the hell.

I was feeling pretty optimistic about the whole thing this morning. It was absolutely perfect baking weather: overcast and chilly. True, New-England-standard chilly. Stepping outside for this morning was remarkable; the cold and night of heavy rain left the air tasting so…clean. Days like this are precisely why fall is my favorite season.

But back to the bagels. I found this recipe and it seemed doable, although far less involved than I remembered from my sister’s project (I recall a special trip to a home-brewer’s store for malt powder). I’m not a huge fan of plain bagels though, and I am a huge fan of pumpkin, so again I figured: what the hell. I’m going to make pumpkin bagels! With cranberries! And dry-roasted pecans! And I will substitute out half of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat so that they will be healthy!

This is where that background music starts, audible to all but the protagonist, and you know that something is about to go terribly wrong.

The kneading process wasn’t as awful as I’d anticipated, although the pumpkin made the dough rather wet and I needed to add a lot of extra flour. The bagels rose fine, and made the short trip from the pan to the pot of boiling water mostly intact. And then things got a bit…strange. The outside of the bagel got all goopy and it started loosing chunks into the water. Still, I let it simmer for the full seven minutes and drained it. They were big to begin with, so I figured loosing a little in the water (and on the paper towel) shouldn’t make a huge difference. I put my thick, misshapen creations onto the baking sheet, with a sprinkle of cornmeal on the bottom for authenticity, and popped them in the over.

Twenty minutes later, I removed four bagels from the oven that resembled hockey pucks in both height and consistency. They had completely deflated, and with them my enthusiasm for yeast in baking. Goodbye, no-knead-bread that never was. Goodbye, skillet pizza. May we meet once my bruised ego has had time to heal.

In conclusion, there is no recipe this week. But I did learn two valuable cooking-lessons that I will impart to you, my readers (AKA, Melissa): Sometimes you need to just use the effing all-purpose flour, and everything tastes delicious when it is covered in cream cheese. Even mutant chewy pumpkin bagel crackers.

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One Response to “You win some…”

  1. BellaBallestra October 24, 2010 at 9:26 am #

    Hehehehehehehe silly silly chelsea…thwarted once again by your silly healthisms….
    I say like I can successfully make bagels. The only time I’ve given it a go resulted in delicious rings of crusty french bread. But don’t give up on yeast baking! seriously! so much delicious to be had! pizza dough is way easy, well, easy to make something that sort of passes as pizza crust. Don’t give up! All that kneading and rising and work will pay off!
    I’m going to go just throw ingredients in my bread maker now…

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