Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bread, bagels, Battlestar Galactica

For my first cooking challenge, I attempted bagels. I mean, how hard could bagels be? You take dough, make it into a circle, boil it and then bake it. Even I should be able to handle that.

Or so I thought.

I've never made bread dough before. I can remember buying yeast only one other time in my life, and I don't recall what, if anything, I made with it. In fact, yeast terrifies me. But I was willing to work through my phobia.

So I take my little recipe and make my bagel dough. I knead it and squish it and get it all over my counter. I shape it into little circles and let it rest for 30 minutes so the dough can rise. After the time is up, I go uncover my little experiment, and ... nothing.

They look exactly the same as they did 30 minutes ago!

Well, clearly, I screwed up somewhere, so I toss that batch in the trash. I begin again. Mix my dough, make little circles, cover them up, wait 30 minutes and ... NOTHING.

No cute-looking fluffy bagels, just sad, flat dough staring back at me. By now I'm yelling at my good-for-nothing bagel dough, which I'm sure only helps. I take a moment to compose myself. "Maybe they don't rise till you bake them?" I ask myself hopefully. So I decide to continue on with the recipe.

I stick the sad little circles into boiling water, where they come out all slimy and gross. Then into the oven they go. After 15 minutes, I open the oven door only to find pathetic lumps of dough that do not in any way resemble a bagel. I am sad. But maybe they taste OK? Hope springs eternal.

No. They do not taste OK. In fact, imagine eating a really doughy, thick strand of spaghetti. That's what my bagels tasted like. No amount of cream cheese was going to cover up this failure.

Now my trash can contains two batches of doughy disasters. Maybe, as a good friend told me, I need to start with basic bread and work my way up to bagels. Or maybe I should never cook with yeast again. It's just a thought.


  1. oh you must continue with yeast! homemade bread is the best stuff ever! basic bread is definetly a good start. it took me many, many years to figure out the ultimate secret: quit adding flour while kneading! the dough will seem sticky and like its going to stick, but keep at it, and it will soon become soft and smooth and elastic and yummy! you could always preheat the oven to its lowest setting, turn it off and put your dough in there to rise. if you see no action in an hour, either yeast is bad, or yeast got killed (hot water!). you can bloom the yeast before even starting your recipe to make sure it is live and active.

  2. I love it! What a cute blog idea.