Public Service Announcement # 4 (I think)

by Kyla

Subtitled: what not to do while baking. I fail so you don’t have to.

I decided to bake today, it being a Friday, which means I don’t have classes, and it also being the third day in a row that I have not taken my kids to school, in light of the road conditions (by which I mean, of course, as far as today is concerned, that the roads were clear with occasional spots of light rain).

The baking started off pretty well. I made some muffins. I have made a lot of muffins in my day, and this morning I decided to branch out and make a new recipe, peanut butter banana muffins. I couldn’t find a half-cup measure so I just kind of eyeballed the 1.5 cups of milk required, and I confess the muffins were a little dry, by which I mean, of course, that I wouldn’t offer them to a friend or even an enemy. Eye-balling being, apparently, not such a good plan.

Motivated by this disappointment, I decided to do even more baking. I figured I’d make a baguette in case people stop by tonight. I’d make a baguette and roast some garlic, because nothing says snobby academic like a homemade baguette and roasted garlic and I can assure you, snobby academic is definitely what I am going for. Flipping through my bread machine cook book, on the way to the baguette section I happened across a recipe for chocolate peanut butter rolls. Even though they won’t go as well with roasted garlic, I decided to go ahead and make those instead of a baguette. Unfortunately, the recipe failed to tell me when to add the chocolate chips, so I decided to just throw them right in there at the beginning of the dough cycle. Because, really, what could possibly go wrong?

While waiting for the bread machine to do its thing there mixing the dough for me, I started thinking about bagels. My kids’ Dad makes bagels. He uses the bread machine to mix the dough, and then shapes and boils up the bagels. There are lots of great things about my kids’ Dad, but one of the things I miss most are his bagels. We haven’t hung around each other for seven years, which means I haven’t had homemade bagels for seven years. I decided it was time to change that. Surely I could make bagels, too.

I found a recipe online. It was for the bread machine, and looked a lot like how my kids’ Dad used to make bagels, so I figured I’d give it a whirl. But it only made nine bagels, and I was a little reluctant to go to all that work for only nine bagels, so I decided to double it. But then I worried that the doubled-recipe would be too big for my bread machine, and the bread machine was busy, anyway, mixing its little heart out for the chocolate peanut butter buns, so I decided to make the dough in my food processor. Now, I’ve never used the food processor to do much more than grate potatoes, I’m not going to lie, but it does come with a dough paddle so I figured that meant it must be possible to make dough in it.

I followed the recipe, doubling as I went. I also decided to substitute whole wheat flour for white flour, a vague nod to healthiness on a day that includes muffins, chocolate buns, and, well, bagels. Here is what I learned.

Do not add water first when putting dough ingredients into a food processor. Said water will leak all over the counter, which you will not discover until you’ve added the last of the six cups of flour. You will have no idea how much water leaked out, so you will have to guess.

Whole wheat flour is actually not the same as white flour, I’m just going to tell you that right now. Apparently you can’t just toss a bunch into a bagel recipe – a bagel recipe that in all likelihood does not have near the right amount of water in it any more – and expect it to turn out.

If you mix in the food processor, you are probably supposed to let the dough rise for an hour or something before you work with it. I forgot that step. Forgetting that step meant it took about four and a half seconds from the moment that I first thought of making bagels to the moment the dough was mixed, though. I’m not going to lie, that’s some rapid turnaround.

Bagels are supposed to float to the top when you drop them in boiling water. If they sink like a stone, cut your losses and just stop. Stop. Now.

If the recipe says to cook bagels until they are browned, don’t take them out when they’re not yet browned. When you take a bite out of one, you will discover that not only does it taste super bad due to all of the negligence listed above, but it’s still sort of raw-ish.

If you’re going to try to make bagels again, you should probably follow the recipe. You should not use the wrong appliance, wrong flour, and wrong measurement. I’m just sayin’. Think about it.