Sit down at the keyboard with no plan, no plot, no character living on the edge of your brain and scratching to get in. Write a scene with no dialog, very little action, and long rambling descriptions of scenery. Bore even yourself.
Netflix, Netflix, Netflix
Begin to think about baking. Remember all the baked goods you have missed and vow to make them all.
Begin with bagels because every single time you go past the bagel cart at the farmer’s market where they charge $1.75 for a plain bagel you vow to go home and make bagels. But up until now, the first week of November, you haven’t had something else to avoid- so you avoided bagels.
Netflix and one gloriously long diversion in which you read almost every post about bagels on the wild yeast blog and realize that you, no matter what you are trying to avoid, will never measure the temperature of your water or manage to feed your sourdough starter on a regular schedule.
Stare at the blank page for an hour or so, realize you are hungry and wouldn’t it be nice to have a nice stash of bagels in the freezer so you could just toast one up right now.
Check the weather to see what the outside temperature will be overnight- 45 degrees, perfect.
Go to make some bagels, kissing your food processor on its pretty plastic top because bagel dough is a serious beee-atch to knead- but a fine upper arm workout.
While the dough is resting return to your novel Netflix.
Remain distracted at all times. Except when shaping the bagels which is an oddly zen like experience, totally in the moment- get briefly inspire and go write for an hour until…
Dinner and photos and life and a glass or three of wine and laundry.
Complete the bagels and make up some flavored cream cheese because that would easily cost another dollar at the market.
Begin to think about the next chapter of your novel cinnamon rolls.
Netflix, Netflix, Netflix.
Sourdough Bagels with Kale Cream Cheese
This recipe is just ever so slightly adapted from Susan’s recipe on the wildyeast blog– if sourdough baking interests you I encourage a visit to wildyeast, she knows her stuff. My major modifications and notes are outlined below.
I use malt syrup because there are a ton of homebrew supply shops here in Portland and it’s easy to come by.
I use a food processor to knead the dough, it is perfect for any fairly stiff dough (like pasta) and bagel dough will make your KitchenAid or your gimpy right shoulder cry out in pain.
I’ve skipped the milk powder before- it’s something that before my father and his hot chocolate drinking ways moved in I very rarely had on hand. There is a difference, a notch less on the complexity scale, but it’s pretty slight.
In the summer I don’t use any yeast at all but my starter tends to be a bit more sluggish when the cold weather hits.
The first time I made these I didn’t have a scale but I’m a convert now so just go get one already.
The original recipe dusts the parchment with semolina or corn meal I now skip this step as my bagels have yet to stick to the parchment and it gets awful messy (or messier, rather) when you boil.
Sometimes my bagels don’t float, but I prefer an under-proofed bagel to an over-proofed bagel so that doesn’t worry me.
- food processor
- 30 g vital gluten (optional, if you have a good bread flour I would omit it)
- 330 g bread flour
- 100 g ripe 100%-hydration sourdough starter
- 225 g (about 1 cup)ice water
- 1 g (about 1/2 tsp) instant yeast (optional, if the weather is warm and your starter is active you can omit)
- 8 g (1 tsp fine) salt
- 8 g 1 1/2 tsp. sugar (you can also use honey or omit entirely, the sweet is a classic Montreal style bagel addition)
- 15 g non diastic malt syrup (I use golden malt extract from a brewing supply store, sometimes instead of sugar or honey I just up the malt syrup amount)
- 25 g non instant powdered milk (this is also optional, I've subbed milk for the water or omitted entirely if Idon't have it on hand)
- Seeds for topping optional
- 1 T. baking soda for boiling
- Combine the flour, starter, water, yeast, salt, sugar, malt, and milk powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the dough blade.
- Mix until the dough is very smooth and strong, almost rubbery, about 2-5 minutes.
- Turn the dough out onto an unfloured surface and form into a smooth ball; the surface should feel satiny and tight.
- Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap or a towel and let it rest for 30 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 8 pieces of about 85 g each.
- Meanwhile, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- To shape each bagel, roll the dough into a cylinder about 8 – 10 inches long without tapering the ends. Wrap the cylinder around your hand, with the ends overlapping by about two inches in your palm. Roll your palm on the counter or between both palms to smash the ends together. (Note: if the dough is a little dry, give it a spritz of water or wet your hands before before shaping. This helps it roll more easily and helps the ends stick to each other.)
- Place the bagels on the prepared cookie sheets, slip into a large food-grade plastic bag or cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate, or leave in a cool (45-55F) spot for 8 hours or over night
- In the morning, preheat the oven to 450F
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Do not remove the bagels from the refrigerator until you are ready to boil them. Add the baking soda to the water once it is boiling. You can also- or instead- add malt syrup to the water.
- Meanwhile, place a cooling rack on the counter with a dishtowel underneath it, and place the topping seeds, if using any, on a small plate in a shallow layer.
- Drop the bagels, three or four at a time, into the vigorously boiling water for 20 seconds. They may or may not float right away, but they should float by the time the 20 seconds are up. If they float right away so the tops are not submerged initially, flip them over about halfway through the boil. Remove the bagels from the water to the cooling rack with a slotted spatula. Let them drain for about 30 seconds before pressing them, top down, into the seeds and replacing them back onto the parchment-lined cookie sheets. Turn the oven down to 400F once the bagels are in. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
What’s that? What about the cream cheese?
Kale Cream Cheese
In the bowl of your food processor, now fitted with the metal blade combine ½ cup coarsely chopped kale, a splash of olive oil, and black pepper and salt to taste (remember that the cream cheese is salty so use less salt than if this was on its own). Process until fairly smooth. Swirl into one package of cream cheese. (I like to barely combine so that the tastes remain distinct but you could certainly mix it up more thoroughly if you prefer.
I’ll be trying this right away! I don’t remember bagels being so sweet when I was a kid but we ate mostly rye bread in Utica, NY.
I don’t always add all the sugar especially if I’m boiling the bagels in malt syrup water. I’ve read that adding honey or malt is a Montreal bagel thing, as well as the slightly smaller shape so perhaps a bit more north of the border in style.