Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels & Bavarian Pretzels

Today was another super fun day in Breads class, despite the fact that I dropped and dented a $400 mixing bowl. It wasn't my fault. Honestly. The muppets who used the bowl before my group didn't put the bowl back on the stand correctly, so when Corley and I were filling it with ingredients, it dropped, hit the deck, and threw yeast water all over the place. Goooood times.

It was just a minor set back in the scheduling of our day, so it wasn't too dramatic. Just another lovely moment where people try my patience, which I fear is a lifelong battle I will never fully concur. I get annoyed, you know?

So anyways, on to the good stuff. Today we mixed doughs for bagels; Corley and I used dark raisins, golden raisins, and cinnamon. Other groups tried things like chocolate and dried cherries or walnuts and cranberries so it was an interesting day in experimentation. I like making bagels; it's a dough I'm comfortable with and my shaping continues to improve. Here's a snapshot of the bagels:

In addition, we also made Bavarian Pretzels and of course rolled and shaped them by hand. I also really enjoyed working with this dough. Like bagels, Bavarian Pretzels also take a bath before baking; the difference is while bagels take a bath in hot water mixed with sugar or honey, pretzels take a bath in cold water with lye. Do you know what lye is? I didn't, until today. Lye is sodium hydroxide. People most commonly know it as the stuff in Draino. So, you may be thinking, what?!? I was thinking the same thing, until Chef spelled out some rather fascinating history about lye and the plague and how someone figured out that this stuff can be appropriately used for foods and sanitation. Sodium hydroxide is also found in soaps. Anyway, the use of lye is what gives soft pretzels their unique flavor and color. It just needs to be used safely and correctly.

After the lye bath, the pretzels are sprinkled with salt. We also slashed ours. Chef complimented my slashing because I did a little more than the recommended and it made a really cool effect on the pretzel. Here's a picture of my best pretzel up close:

And here's a picture of a bunch of pretzels:

And because I have no shame, here's a picture my friend Courtney took of me and my best pretzel:

At the end of class, we mixed two starters, one to make rye bread and one to make focaccia. Just a little appetizer of breads to come!

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