Cinnamon-Raisin Sourdough Bagels

There’s been a lot of bagel-making going on around here. More about that in a later post. These cinnamon-raisin bagels are a lot like the blueberry bagels, only with raisins. And cinnamon. Go figure.

And speaking of figures — at 85 grams, these bagels a little smaller than the 100-gram ones I’ve been doing recently. The missing 15 grams doesn’t seem to make the bagel appreciably smaller, but if I’m eating one every day (and I might be), those eliminated grams should eliminate more than three pounds from my waistline over the course of a year.

I guessed at how much cinnamon to add to the dough. It wasn’t a bad guess, but if you like your bagels really cinnamon-y, I think you could double the amount and still be in the ballpark. The bagelpark? Whatever.

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Sourdough Blueberry Bagels

Blueberries are everybody’s darling lately: antioxidant-rich, cancer-fighting, cholesterol-lowering, brain-sharpening, blood pressure-controlling, diabetes-battling. And they taste good, too! Even when they’re not in season, I usually keep a bag on hand in the freezer for smoothies, and a store of dried berries to throw into my oatmeal.

I can’t imagine why it took me this long — that is, until my number-one bagel eater made the request — to make blueberry-studded bagels. To keep the berries as intact as possible, I incorporated the dried berries into the mostly-mixed dough without soaking them first. I did make the dough a bit wetter than usual to allow for the berries’ absorption of some water.

If you haven’t made bagels before, don’t be intimidated! Bagels are one of my favorite things to make. There’s lots of hands-on time with the dough, a plus in my book. For more of my bagel opinions, take a look at my basic 100%-sourdough bagel recipe.

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Seed Grissini

I have sung the praises of grissini (thin crisp bread sticks; literally “little snakes”) many times before, but let’s review:

  • simple to make
  • easy to vary with different flours, toppings, etc.
  • look striking in a bouquet or bundle
  • great party food; no slicing!
  • lots of dough hands-on time, and much more satisfying than Play-Doh
  • disappear quickly
  • satisfy the “crunchy” food group daily requirement

Sesame and fennel seeds are classic for grissini, but I find I have trouble making mine stay on. I solved that problem here by putting the seeds into the dough rather than on top. (Coarse salt, however, always belongs on top!) Mixing the dough in the food processor, as I’ve done here, chops the seeds, so if you prefer them whole, mix by hand or in a stand mixer.

Buon appetito!

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Chewy Sourdough Granola Bars

And how was everyone’s long weekend? Here’s a brief account of mine:

Saturday morning: I feed and build up my sourdough starter for baking later in the day. I take off for points north, to my sometime-house, starter and dog in tow, for a peaceful and barbecue-free weekend.

Saturday afternoon: I check the weather report before heading out for a late walk: cloudy; chance of precipitation: 10%. 30 minutes from home, I observe that the chance of precipitation is actually 100%. I arrive, soggy and chilled, back home to a power outage. The starter sits on the counter, all happy and bubbly with anticipation. “Oh, go to hell,” I mutter, and toss it into the darkened refrigerator before peeling off my waterlogged clothes and crawling under a blanket.

Sunday: Sunshine and electricity are both restored to working order. I avoid forlorn and accusing glances from my now-flat starter by avoiding the refrigerator altogether.

Monday: Confrontation cannot be averted forever. I open the fridge. “Bake with me.” “You’re sounding pretty chipper for old and tired starter. But no. The weekend is almost over, we have to head back in a bit. There’s no time for baking.” “Bake with me!” “I said no.” “You are evil and the baking gods will rain upon you forever.” “Anyway, you’re too cold and weak right now to raise bread.” “Pancakes, then.” “We have no eggs. Too bad.” “We have a bunch of odds and ends of nuts and dried fruits.” “I don’t know what to do with those. I don’t have a recipe.” “Make something up.” At this point, it just seems easier to start throwing things randomly into a bowl than to keep arguing with the damn thing.

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Peppercorn-Potato Sourdough Bagels

Here on the West Coast we have a chain of bagel restaurants whose namesake is an ark-builder that rhymes with a feathered neckpiece worn by Mae West (you got that?). While I have always found their bagels a little too puffy and bready for my taste, there is one that makes my heart skip a beat.

I admit it, I’m a sucker for that ark-builder’s peppercorn-potato bagels. But, while I will not be so immodest as to say my sourdough version is better, it is chewier, and makes a damn good tuna sandwich. If you like a bagel that bites back when you bite into it, this could be your creature. Try them one by one or two by two, and decide for yourself.

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Bagels 100% Sourdough. Opinions 100% Mine.

These bagels are 100% sourdough-leavened. Some people will tell you that makes them superior to the ones I have posted in the past, which use a small amount of yeast in addition to sourdough. This is wrong. They’re not better, just different. More sour. Very good.

Then there are those who think any bread in the shape of a bagel makes it a bagel. This is also wrong. The only good bagel is a chewy bagel, and there are a few keys to chewiness:

  • Use high-gluten flour, or your regular flour with about 3% of it replaced by gluten flour (a.k.a. vital wheat gluten)
  • Don’t make the dough too wet. The hydration of this dough is about 55%.
  • Mix the dough until it is strong strong strong. I mean strong!

I have always thought that my bagel dough, after coming off the mixer and taking a few turns by hand, had the feel of a brand new tire. I have been ridiculed for this analogy by more than one person I’ve mentioned it to, but it’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Come on people, don’t you know what I mean? Haven’t you ever run your fingers across a display tire in the tire store and felt its dry, silky smoothness, firm but with just a tiny bit of give? That’s what the surface of your bagel dough should feel like.

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