Step aside, Zorro!! A new slashing tool just got added!

I’d been trying to “make do” for a while with whatever seemed like an acceptable tool for slashing the dough loaves and using a small, very sharp but flat-bladed paring knife acceptable, though not exactly great. 

I knew that a “tomato knife” was a great tool to use because it has the large scallops in the blade which , as seen on Mark’ Back Home Bakery videos, did a very neat, clean cut in one go. But when I went out looking for such a knife, I was rather put off by the cost, about $20 – $25 at the local department stores’ kitchen/cutlery sections. Several stores in fact. Thanks, I think I’ll just save the $25 and buy flour.

However, I came across a display in our local grocery emporium (in my case, that’s Fortino’s, a part of the Loblaws/Superstore/President’s Choice conglomeration here in Canada) and there in the kitchen stuff section next to candles and pillows displays, was a box full of paring knives with flat blades… But my eye caught a knife in the corner that looked like… yes!! A serrated tomato knife! And they were an astounding $1.90!! Stuck in the back of the box (I dug) were a handful of these little beauties, with black or pale blue handles. Continue reading “Step aside, Zorro!! A new slashing tool just got added!”

The Waste Conundrum

On bread discussion boards where people talk about their sourdough starters, invariably you will see posts written by people who are concerned about the amount of flour or old starter they end up tossing away, especially during the creating-the-starter phase. There seems to be much fretting and worrying that so much product is simply going to waste.

In this post, I’d like to address a few ideas concerning waste in the starter which, hopefully, will spark some discussion and help resolve some of the concern.

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Spicy Squash Soup

Since man cannot live by bread alone (unfortunately), I though I’d add a recipe for an incredibly tasty soup so that you’d have a good reason to have MORE bread.

This recipe specifically lists butternut squash, ergo it’s name, “Spicy Butternut Squash Bisque”. But since that doesn’t happen to be what we grew in the garden this year, I used our acorn squash instead. And really, I would bet you could use just about any squash that is available in the produce section.

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Spicy Squash Bisque

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Sourdough Bagels Recipe

Sourdough Bagels

Now that I’ve made Mike Avery’s Sourdough Bagels a few times over, (below is my slightly modified version of that recipe) I’m very happy with the results. These sourdough bagels are coming out nice and golden with a dense and slightly chewy crumb, a good crust and terrific flavour.

I’ve done one round of the Bagel recipe from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice as well and although they came out looking great and tasting very nice indeed, I found I was missing the interesting flavour tones that the sourdough gave when using the Mike Avery recipe. It was also good to give a try to a recipe that many people have used and to make a definite comparison.

The hands down winner is (are?) the Sourdough Bagels.

So here then is the (slightly modified) recipe for Mike Avery’s Sourdough Bagels. I’ve modified the amounts since his recipe, as he states on his web page, was designed for a class and therefore makes only four bagels… hardly enough to make a run at home when that would only last maybe a day, if you are lucky! So I bumped it up in increments to a more useful 12 bagel size. This would then be enough to bake on two normal sized home baking sheet (6 per sheet with a fair bit of elbow room) in a home oven and last you and a friend more than just a day or so. (We normally freeze six, they still taste just fine after thawing.) I also included the Baker’s percentages so those who use these can modify the recipe easily to make any size batch. This also tells us that the formula is 50% hydration so it is indeed a very stiff dough.

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A Cautionary Tale Concerning Bagels

It happens. You’re going along, baking your bread – or, specifically, bagels in this case – and you just know something is amiss but you keep going because it’s not really feasible to halt the process when everything’s in progress, the oven’s on, the water’s boiling, the bread’s been proofing… There’s no turning back now!

So I’m sick. No, not “sick” as in twisted (although some may well debate that), sick as in coughing and moaning and dragging my feet with a cold. A cold that hit big time just when the last bagel batch was nearing the end of the process. My head feels like it’s stuffed with cotton, my throat’s itchy and/or on fire. So I’ve slugged back a swig or two of cough syrup and now I’m zoning out. Everything’s a little askew, a bit off kilter, spinning somewhat and I’m losing track of things. I should have known better but I kept going. Bad idea. Somewhat. Continue reading “A Cautionary Tale Concerning Bagels”