100th post & bagels!!!!!

Happy New Year!! I know it’s already almost the end of January, but I haven’t come up with my New Year’s resolutions yet which means the year hasn’t reallllly started. Because everything revolves around me. *hair toss*)

Real, Good Bagels | memo2munch

While we’re on the subject of me, (Yes I’m aware that I began that subject) I have some super exciting news and it is in fact soooooooo exciting that even bagels will have to wait and that is no small matter.

Today is my 100th blog post on memo2munch!!!!

Talk about starting the new year off right! Yup, I’ve yakked away on memo2munch 100 times, which is pretty c r a z y.

So in celebration, I’m sharing a recipe for one of my favorite foods and one that I think we can all agree is deliciously worthy of the 100th recipe spotlight.

Real, Good Bagels | memo2munch

I have a very strong love for bagels. I think it must be in every Jew’s DNA somewhere. Like we hear any of the bagel trigger words (“schmear,” “lox”) and then wheels of dough start rolling through our brains down to our mouths & out pops the phrase, “Bagels?! I love bagels!”

Which, of course, is quickly followed by, “But, you know, only Good, Real Bagels™.”

What’s a real bagel? Well, everyone has an opinion, but many say they’ve got to be boiled before they’re baked. I’m all for a good boiled bagel, so today’s recipe includes an easy boiling step! Hey, it’s the 100th post. We gotta go all out.

Real, Good Bagels | memo2munch

During the winter holidays a lot of my family gets together. We plan the whole week around food (not even kidding), and one of the days always includes a FISH FEAST! It really feels like a feast. My cousin has a bunch of cured and smoked fish flown in from this famous place in New York called Russ & Daughter’s. We’re talking lox, kippered salmon, sturgeon, even a whole smoked white fish! Then one of my other cousins snags a variety of chewy bagels from downtown Chicago. We all gather at my grandparents’ house one afternoon and eat so much yummy food, with bagels at the foundation. (My grandpa makes a lox too, which holds its own against anything from Russ & Daughters.)

Real, Good Bagels | memo2munch

I couldn’t have made it to my 100th post without the support I’ve received from all of you who take the time to read my blog & encourage me. Thank you so much! You are a very important part of this blog, so I’ve collected some of your bagel memories to share today too. <3

“When I was little I use to call them ‘not-donuts’ and for a while I use to feel cheated by them cuz they weren’t donuts but now I love them way more than their sugary counterparts.” – Kriss

“My grandma used to make “birdies in the nest” for my brothers when my brothers slept over at my grandparents house. By the time I was old enough to sleep over, my grandpa had ripped off my grandma’s idea and made “birdies in the bagel”. It’s a piece of bread (nest) with a hole cut in the middle for the egg, or in the hole of a bagel if making the bagel version. All my cousins and I went more bananas over birdies in the bagel than birdies in the nest, so grandpa always got a lot of credit and grandma was kind of resentful of that. I have a lot of memories of watching my grandpa make both birdies in the bagel and soldiers (cinnamon sugar toast cut into long strips) for me when I slept over at their house. I never made them myself at home until he passed away in November. The first birdies in the bagel I made, I cracked the egg and it was a double yolk. Grandpa always loved yolk, and double ones especially so. Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is because of birdies in the bagel, I will always associate bagels with my grandpa.” – Hannah

“My dad owned a bagel shop for awhile! We grew up running around eating fresh bagel bites (mini bagels with a dollop of cream cheese icing)!” – Alyssa

“While in NY over break I visited a friend in New Jersey for a day and told her I needed the “NJ experience” incorporated into my visit. When we were considering breakfast options, she mentioned bagels. I said sure, but I wondered if that would fill us up (we were both really hungry). She said bagels in NJ are different than ones I’d find in Carmel, so just one bagel would do the trick. I had a whole wheat bagel with veggie cream cheese and lo and behold, it kept me full through the 4 different trains/subways it took to get me back to where I was staying with my dad in NY!” – Jacob

“SWEET BAGEL! We have it in israel its the best thing ever! Its basically bagel brushed with sugar syrup” – Miriam

“I was around 17 (thinking back it seems like that can’t be right–so old for such an epiphany?) when my brother moved to New York and I had my first everyseed with lox. There are a few holy trinities in food: one is basil/tomato/mozzarella, another lox/caper/onion. And enormous amounts of schmear. There is no delicate way to eat this sandwich.” – Steven

“Tommy [my fiance] and I go almost every Sunday to Einstein’s Bagels and pick some up for breakfast. It’s become a ritual!” – Cindy

“I heard once that if you eat a Montreal bagel and a New York City bagel on the same day, the bagels will know you’re a traitor and work together to kill you from the inside. I was pretty skeptical until I saw it with my own two eyes.” – Throsby (details, we need details, Throsby!)

“When I was a kid, there was this bagel place near my mom’s work and she would pick up chocolate chip bagels with chocolate chip cream cheese. One day, she got some for me and they were gone overnight. My dad came right out and admitted to eating them, complaining about how sickly sweet they were and he said they made him sick, but apparently that didn’t stop him from eating every last one and all of the chocolate chip cream cheese. Those things were so good.” – Sara

“[Your aunt’s] Bat Mitzvah was held the weekend of March 17. Because we had several relatives coming in from out of town, Grandma and Poppy hosted a brunch on that Sunday and served bagels, lox, and other brunch-type foods. A week or so before then, Grandma went to the little bakery in Whiting and ordered bagels for the weekend. When she went to the bakery that Saturday to pick up the bagels, she noticed that they had green bagels in the case. She thought it would be fun to also get a few green bagels for the brunch on Sunday, so she asked the woman behind the counter for a couple of green bagels. The woman looked at her and said, “It’s St. Patrick’s Day. All the bagels are green!” It was quite the sight — the bright orange lox and white cream cheese on the green bagels.” -My momma!

“I had a bagel today. There was a high amount of cream cheese.” – Tyler (a bagel success story)

“Living in a predominantly jewish community in the suburbs of New York City has greatly elevated my standards for bagels! For one thing, a truly fresh bagel NEVER needs should be toasted. If you’re buying it fresh, it will already be warm and ready to be eaten immediately with a massive glob of cream cheese shmear. Also, its an unspoken rule that you never buy your bagels from multiple bagel joints- you obviously must commit to one family-run bagel place.” – Piper

“As you know I eat like 200 bagels a year at Einsteins. It’s like our second home. Although bagels should be boiled. And one of the reasons NYC bagels are so good is the water.” – Ken

“The first time I ever had a REAL bagel was in Seattle. Amazing. I didn’t know then that a real bagel is boiled before it’s baked. I made them myself a few times after that but, even though they tasted good, they were very ugly. Not smooth like a store bought one. Tell me how to fix that problem.” -Susan (I’ll do some more experimenting & let ya know! 😉 )

“When we go on overnight at camp (it’s the teen portion of camp walking out to a spot in the woods and camping out), the counselors make all of the food. In the mornings, I would always look forward to a blueberry bagel grilled so it had just started to brown and some cream cheese! It was always really welcome, especially because you had to stay close to the warm charcoal fire to make it perfect (so it didn’t burn) and then it was always so yummy! It was a really fun way to toast bagels and the campsite itself is quite pretty, in the middle of the woods.”Colleen

“We would get all kindds of assorted bagels quite often growing up because the Bagels Forever factory is in Madison and my dad would always get himself everything bagels with all the onion and garlic and seeds, so my mom would make him keep them in a separate bag. He’d eat them with lox and cream cheese—-I eat them with butter. My favorite bagel! And the pool I went to was across the street from the factory/shop and bagels were 25 cents each so when I was a kid on swim team we would hunt for quarters by the vending machines cuz if you found one you got a bagel!”Mari

Good, Real Bagels™ (aka boiled bagels)
Makes 8 bagels
Adapted from sophisticatedgourmet.com

Ingredients
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1.5 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups (300mL) warm water
3 ½ cups (500g) bread flour, plus more for kneading
1.5 tsp. salt

For optional toppings:
1 egg, beaten
Sesame seeds
Poppy seeds

Method
1. Warm ½ cup of the water so that it is the temperature of bath water, meaning it is quite warm but you can keep your finger comfortably submerged. Stir in the sugar and then sprinkle the yeast on top. Let sit 5-10 minutes until foamy.

2. In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt together. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast and sugar mixture as well as about half of the remaining water.

3. Mix the dough together, adding the rest of the water bit by bit if needed. Then turn onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until you have a stiff, smooth dough that is no longer sticky to the touch.

4. Wipe out the bowl from before, it doesn’t have to be spotless, just so all the loose crumbs are gone. Lightly brush bowl with oil and place the dough ball inside. Cover with plastic wrap also coated with some oil or a damp dish towel. Let the dough rise for 1 hour in a warm place until it has doubled in size. Gently punch dough down and let it rest for another 10 minutes.

5. Divide the dough into 8 pieces, as uniform as possible. Shape each piece into a tight ball. Coat a finger in flour and gently press your finger into the center of each dough ball to create the ring shape. Stretch the ring so the hole is about 1/3 the width of the bagel. Place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet.

6. After shaping the rings, cover the cookie sheet with plastic wrap coated in oil or a damp kitchen towel and let rest for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F/220 degrees C.

7. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then reduce the heat. Use a slotted spoon to lower the bagels gently into the water, being careful not to deflate them. Boil as many as can fit in one layer in the pot. Let the bagels float on one side for 1-2 minutes, then flip using the spoon and let float for another 1-2 minutes. Remove from water and return to cookie sheet, letting as much water drip off as possible.

8. At this point, add any toppings by brushing the bagels with egg wash and sprinkling the toppings on top.

9. Ready to bake! Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy.

Honey Spelt Bread

I wrote a little haiku poem, and I’d like to share it with all of you today.

It’s about something that’s very near and dear to my heart, especially during this frosty time of year.

It’s called, “Bread.” I hope you like it. Ahem:

So doughy and soft,
Can I eat you all the time?
Oh, my love for thee.

Honey Spelt Bread | memo2munch

There is nothing truer than this poem, friends. I LOVE bread. Give me a nice, chewy loaf of carbohydrates and I’m set!

We go through bread in our apartment like it’s the only thing we have to eat (but actually, sometimes it’s all we WANT to eat) because we all adore it. Usually we get a whole grain sandwich bread from the supermarket or splurge every once in a while on a sourdough boule from the farmer’s market on Saturday mornings.

Honey Spelt Bread | memo2munch

But when it was Tuesday, and we were already out of bread for the week, I realized something. Why are we buying bread? We don’t need to be buying bread. I know how to yeast. I can make bread. (Yes, I just made yeast into a verb & guess what iloveit.)

And if I can make bread, so can you. Promise.

Honey Spelt Bread | memo2munch

I mean, the benefits waaaay outweigh the effort. In under 3 hours you have a delicious, fresh loaf of bread perfect for all bread-y occasions and an aroma you just can’t beat. If that seems like a long time, let me just point out that 80 percent will be spent letting the yeast do the heavy lifting, and then baking the bread in the oven. It basically makes itself!

Best of all, you only need five ingredients. Yeast aside, you probably already have the rest of the ingredients in your house RIGHT NOW. Yes, you!

Honey Spelt Bread | memo2munch

The loaf pictured here is made with whole spelt flour, but I tried it with whole wheat flour, and it worked just as well.

If you have any hesitations about using yeast, fear not! I’m going to walk you through the tricky parts. The important thing to remember is that yeast is just super picky and spoiled, nothing to be afraid of. It takes some practice to really get comfortable with it, and sometimes your blueberry sweet rolls might rise over the sides of the pan like mine did. But once you get into a rhythm, working with yeast will become one of the most fun and rewarding kitchen activities you do!

Step 1: Activating the yeast

My bread recipe uses active dry yeast, which is different than instant yeast. Active dry yeast, though it says in the name that it’s active, needs to be dissolved in warm water before it can be used in a recipe. Instant yeast has a smaller particle size, so it can be mixed in directly with the dry ingredients.

Honey Spelt Bread | memo2munch

So I mentioned that yeast is picky, right? Well, water temperature is one of the things it’s picky about. The water has to be hot enough to dissolve the yeast, but not so hot that it kills it. (What a diva…) You want to aim for about 110° F, or about the temperature you would make a bath for a baby.

Here’s a tip: if you can’t keep your finger comfortably in the water for 10 seconds, then it’s too hot!

Once your water is the right temperature, sprinkle in the yeast and stir briefly until it has all dissolved. Just let it sit while you mix the dry ingredients together, and then add it like you would any other liquid in a recipe.

Honey Spelt Bread | memo2munch

Step 2: Kneading the dough

This part seems to scare people the most, but I find it really therapeutic now that I’ve got the hang of it.

Kneading develops the gluten in dough, which gives it that nice, chewy, texture. You want the dough to be a little sticky when you start, so don’t add too much flour although I know it’s tempting.

Flour a clean surface and place the ball of dough down, flipping it so the outside is all coated in flour. Then hold the bottom edge of the dough in place with your left hand. Grab the top of the dough in your right hand and use the heal of your right hand to gently stretch the dough away from you, then fold it back on top of itself. Turn the whole dough ball a quarter to the right. Repeat this process for 5-6 minutes, and THAT’S IT! Pull, fold, turn.

Honey Spelt Bread | memo2munch

Keep the surface coated in flour, adding more as needed. When the dough is not super sticky and springs back when you poke it, you’re DONE! YAY!

Here’s a tip: if you’re a more visual person, YouTube has some great videos that show you how to knead. That’s how I learned, actually. This is the video I watched. Don’t worry, you don’t actually have to watch the whole thing. The kneading part is at the beginning. Here’s another one I like.

Step 3: Letting it rise

This part is a piece of cake. The hardest part is waiting, but we’ve talked about that.

Honey Spelt Bread | memo2munch

All you do for the first rise is flour the bowl you prepared the dough in, place the dough in a ball shape in the bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and wait!

Here’s a tip: yeast rises best in warm environments, so what I do is preheat the oven to 200° F while I’m prepping the dough. When the dough is ready to rise, I turn the oven off and place the whole bowl in the oven for an hour. Works every time, thanks Sally’s Baking Addiction!

Honey Spelt Bread | memo2munch

 

I find that the oven is still warm enough by the time of the second rise, so I don’t bother preheating it again. Just place the whole loaf pan in the off oven like you did with the bowl.

If you’d like to print a copy of these steps to keep in your kitchen for easy reference, you can do that by clicking print below.

Print Break-Making Tips

Honey Spelt Bread | memo2munch

 

I’m almost on break for Thanksgiving. One more class! I hope you have a wonderful time with your friends and family. (And if you’re looking for something impressive to bring to your Thanksgiving meal, I highly suggest fresh-baked bread. Everyone will love you.) Okay, byyye!

Honey Spelt Bread
Yields 1
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Print
Ingredients
  1. 4 1/2 cups whole spelt flour, plus more for dusting*
  2. 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  3. 1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
  4. 1 3/4 c. warm water, about 110 degees F/43 degrees C
  5. 2 tbsp. local honey
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F/90 degrees C.** Pour the warm water in a bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Whisk until dissolved.
  2. In a separate, large bowl, combine 4 cups of the flour with the sea salt.
  3. Add the yeast and water mixture and the honey to the dry ingredients. Add only enough of the remaining 1/2 c. flour so that the dough begins to gently pull away from the sides of the bowl. It should still be slightly sticky.
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until no longer sticky and dough springs back when poked. (Details in post)
  5. Turn the oven off. Flour the bowl you prepared the dough in. Shape the dough into a ball, and set in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in the oven, or another warm place, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  6. Spray a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with vegetable cooking spray. Gently punch the dough down, and invert onto a lightly floured work surface. Flatten it slightly, and roll it into a log. Tuck the ends under, and place in the greased loaf pan, seam-side down. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in the oven again until doubled in bulk, about 30-40 minutes.
  7. Remove the dough from the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F/230 degrees C. Dust the dough lightly with flour. Use a sharp knife to make a shallow, lengthwise gash down the center of the loaf. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the loaf is browned and sounds hollow when tapped.Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then tip it out onto a rack to cool completely before enjoying.
Notes
  1. *You may also use whole wheat flour, or sub up to one cup all purpose flour if you don't want quite as hearty a loaf.
  2. **Only do this if you are using the oven trick for helping the dough rise that I mentioned in the post.
Adapted from Food and Wine
Adapted from Food and Wine
Memo2munch http://memo2munch.com/

Cinnamon Swirl Bread + Bread-Making Basics

It’s been an interesting week.

It was the last week before spring break, and I literally almost blew away today because it was so windy, but that’s not JUST why.

It starts with psychology, which is SO CRAZY.

I’m taking my first psychology course ever, and I’m repeatedly blown away (Noticed this pun while editing. Can we all just take a moment? Thank you.) by the amazing things our mind does for us. Very intricate processes are carried out so instantaneously and efficiently that we don’t grasp the amount of work put into them.

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread | memo2munch

We open our eyes and see. Not just shapes, but identifiable objects. Trees, outlets, bananas. We recognize these things from all different angles, even from angles we haven’t seen before. We recognize faces. We understand depth. Despite the fact that the images on our retinas are two-dimensional, upside-down and reversed.

We see COLORS! Fabulous sunsets, beautiful flowers.

Our brains turn vibrations into bubbling brooks, intricate symphonies, and words with meaning.

Free-floating molecules become the scent of everything from fresh-baked bread to that fresh smell after it rains.

We can taste (YEEEES) and touch. We comprehend our location relative to the world around us.

All of these sensations are accomplished by the brain. There’s no color or sound in the outside world, only light and vibrations that our brains translate for us. That little blob that lives in our skulls is pretty dang fantastic.

I just get so excited. Learning about the brain makes me want to see, hear, smell, taste, touch EVERYTHING! And I think everyone else should want to as well.

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread | memo2munch

There’s so much to experience, and all of it can be processed by our brains into the most wonderful… I’m at a loss for words. I have no idea how to describe the phenomena that are our senses. You can call me basic, but I “can’t even.”

But I can still EXPERIENCE them all the same, and so can you! This is why I love making bread.

I see the dough change and mature as it rises. I feel the warmth of the dough between my fingers as I mix and knead. I smell the comforting aroma of yeast and cinnamon. If all else is silent, I can hear a few air bubbles pop while I knead.

It’s hard for language to convey what it’s like to make bread, but once you make it you just understand. And you share that unspoken understanding with others who bake it. Those of you reading who have baked bread before know what I’m talking about!

Senses are private, so we can’t be sure we all experience the exact same thing. But we all feel something similar, and that’s what’s important.

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread | memo2munch

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread | memo2munch

Please, please give bread-making it a try! I know that yeast can be scary, but try it a few times and you’ll see that it’s not evil, it’s just picky! It may take a try or two to get the hang of. I had a difficult time at first, just take a look at my epic fail in this post. However, since I’ve practiced and gotten the hang of using yeast, I LOVE IT!

There are four key parts of making bread. Don’t worry, I’ll walk you through the whole process.

  1. Activating the yeast: Before you do anything, you need to activate the yeast. We’re using active dry yeast in this recipe. Careful not to substitute instant yeast. We activate the yeast by sprinkling it over a mixture of warm almond milk and water. This step is probably where the most people get discouraged. Yeast is a drama queen, and if the water is too hot it will just up and die. Since we have to baby yeast, aim for the liquid to be the temperature you would make a baby’s bath. I don’t even use a thermometer! If you can keep one finger in the liquid comfortably, then you’re in the right zone. Sprinkle in the yeast, and let sit for 10 minutes. If your water was the right temperature, you should see lots of froth!
  2. Adding flour: While it may seem simple enough, knowing how much flour to add can be confusing. A lot of people add too much because they don’t want the dough to be sticky at all when they need it. This will make your bread tough. The act of kneading smooths out the dough and makes it not sticky, so you want your dough a tiny bit sticky when you begin to knead. Don’t feel obligated to use all of the flour the recipe calls for.
  3. Kneading: This part is so therapeutic once you get the hang of it! Its purpose is to develop the gluten which gives bread that chewy texture we all love. Flour a surface like a large cutting board. Take your dough and flip ot over and over until you have a light coating of flour on all sides. Then, grip the bottom left edge of the dough ball with your left hand. Grab the top half with your right hand and stretch the dough away from you. Then fold it back over itself. Now turn the dough 90 degrees to the right, and repeat. Keep going, adding bits of flour as needed, until your dough is nice and smooth. Easy, right?
  4. Rising: Rising is very important, otherwise you will end up with a dense rock instead of a light and fluffy loaf. The trick here is warmth. Picky yeast won’t start any rising action if it’s too cold. Since my house is often cold, what I do is preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Lightly oil a large bowl (you can rinse out and use the bowl you made the dough in) and place the dough in the bowl while the oven heats. Once it reaches 200 degrees, turn the oven off. Cover the bowl lightly with foil or plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise in the still-warm oven until doubled in size.

There! Now you’re ready to get baking. 🙂

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Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread | memo2munchCinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread | memo2munch

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread | memo2munchCinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread | memo2munch

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread | memo2munch
(Adapted from The Pastry Affair)

Yields 1 loaf

For dough
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup (235 ml) warm almond milk
1/3 cup (80 ml) warm water
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup (60 grams) melted margarine
3/4 cup (120 grams) raisins (I used a mix of regular and yellow raisins)
3 1/2 cups (445 grams) all-purpose flour

In a large mixing bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer), sprinkle the yeast over the barely warm milk and water and allow to sit about 5-10 minutes until activated (looks frothy). Mix in the sugar, salt, and melted margarine. Mix in raisins. Gradually add flour, mixing until the dough comes together. If the dough is too dry and will not come together, add small amounts of water until it does. Conversely, if the dough is too sticky, add flour until it becomes workable; however, do not add too much flour or the bread will become dense.

Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for 7-10 minutes, or until elastic. Alternatively, using the dough hook on a stand mixer, knead the dough for 7-10 minutes, or until elastic. Cover dough with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rise until doubled in a warm place, about 1 hour. Here’s what I do: preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Then turn it off. Keep the dough in the oven to rise. It works!

For Cinnamon Swirl
1/3 cup (70 grams) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 large egg, beaten

In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon until evenly mixed. Set aside.

Punch down the dough before turning out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out into a 9 x 15-inch rectangle. Brush the beaten egg over the top. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar evenly over the egg. Starting with the shortest end, roll up the dough until a log is formed, folding down the ends. Transfer the log, seam side down, into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Press dough down so it reaches the corners evenly. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for another 40-60 minutes until doubled.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until bread is golden and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from baking pan and allow to cool slightly before slicing and serving.