Sunday, January 29, 2012

she bakes, she bakes

More baking adventures. It appears that I have... well, not perfected, and not even mastered, but accomplished the art of a reasonable flatbread. First there was pizza dough, which I have made using Alton Brown's recipe (you may detect a theme here) and that has generally turned out. We've eaten a lot of pizza; each time I make the dough it gets better. So practice is clearly a component. Next up with pizza adventures: I'm going to try Alton's grilled flatbread pizza recipe. You know, because winter's such a great time for grilling.

I have also accomplished a reasonable facimile of a sort of mana'eesh, a Middle Eastern flatbread that is essentially a pizza with za'atar on it instead of tomato sauce and pepperoni. I'll make this one again, I think, and up the oven temperature from the 400 F the recipe called for; my mana'eesh didn't really brown, though they were quite tasty all the same. And very, very easy, except for the part where my pizza stone can only support two at a time.

also, za'atar is extremely delicious

Finally, today I accomplished homemade bagels. They're not beautiful, but wow are they tasty. I did them the traditional way, poaching them in boiling water with baking soda and malt syrup before baking. They weren't blatantly flavourful the way, say, a store-bought bagel is; they were better. The texture was flat-out awesome. They had a subtle flavour; something not quite sweet, not quite savoury. They were a fair bit of work; a pre-ferment, then mixing and kneading the dough, then another rise, then shaping them and leaving them in the fridge overnight, then poaching (which I could only do two at a time) and then baking (which I could only do four at a time.) And things are a little time-sensitive when it comes to the poaching-draining-baking thing, so I'm not sure I'll be doing much of them when I'm home alone with smallfry. But as a weekend baking activity I'll definitely pull this recipe out again. I may have been ruined by these bagels; I'm pretty sure I'll never be able to go back to store-bought.

Incidentally, for those looking for a good mana'eesh or bagel recipe, I got both from Daniel Leader's Simply Great Breads book. My current copy is the library's but I'm pretty sure I'll be buying one. The failed bialys were from this book too, so my record with it is not perfect, but there are at least two recipes there that worked out well, and several more that I'd like to try (cider doughnuts being first on the list.)

I just ate another half-bagel, just to confirm that they really are that tasty. So. Good.

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