Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bread and Cheese

When I took a look at what I made yesterday, I wondered if I was really making strides toward a "healthy lifestyle."  Despite the "high fat" and "carbs" and calories in bagels and cream cheese, I think I still am.  It's not like these are all we eat, but we enjoy them, and the ingredients are fresh, wholesome, and readily available.  Becca is not big on eating breakfast, but I can send a homemade fresh bagel with her to school (and two for her friends!) and she'll have something to eat at break time.  I am also certain that these are far better tasting and better for us than their grocery store counterparts.  Commercial cream cheese has lots of additives, as does bread.  I was shocked to discover last year that most commercial breads contain high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  Some companies are making the move away from this ingredient, as evidenced by packages that now state in bright, bold letters that their product does not contain HFCS.  The worst offenders are hot dog and hamburger buns; it's hard to find them without HFCS, though I believe it's Orowheat that offers a potato hamburger bun that is delicious and HFCS-free.  We like to use those buns for our Amazing BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches, that I'm sure we'll be making as the weather warms.  I'll be sure to share the recipe when I make it next.

I'm getting the bagel recipe "down."  When I first started making bagels this year, I used the recipe that came with the bread machine, since I am using the machine to mix and rise the dough.  Yesterday, I used whey left over from last week's cream cheese instead of water, and made a different recipe using non-diastatic malt powder (from roasted barley) from King Arthur Flour.  The malt powder replaces the processed white sugar in the dough recipe, and the bagels turned out shiny, with a nice, chewy, slightly crispy crust, tender and soft inside.  The recipe can be found here at the King Arthur Flour web site.  These bagels are massive, so I will probably make a dozen from this recipe in the future.

Today I an omitting the sugar from the water bath to see if that makes any difference.  I've also discovered that it's a good idea to lightly flour the surface you put the dough on (it is very sticky, but you don't want the bagels to be too dry either), and form the dough into the bagel shape before the 30-minute resting period.  Place them on a lightly greased baking sheet and stretch the holes out a little again, if you wish, before boiling.  After the water bath, you can drain them on a clean dish towel, re-grease the sheet, and bake.  I prefer the poke-the-hole in the middle method over the make-a-rope-and-stick-the-ends-together method.  It makes a much more uniform looking bagel, with no risk of it coming apart at the seams.

Ah, greasing the baking sheet.  I like using the spray oils, because it allows a light coating without too much mess or waste.  I don't like having to buy the cans all the time, though, which is expensive and wasteful, and most, if not all, of the canned oils contain soy.  I discovered a great little spray bottle that I can fill with whatever oil I want to use, and am tickled to finally be free of the metal spray cans.  I found the Prepara food mister at a local kitchen store.  If you cannot find something similar, you can follow the link above to order online.  I use this all the time!

Once the ingredients are on hand, making cream cheese is so easy.  It is not for fast-food types, because it won't be ready for approximately 24 hours.  The wait is soooo worth it, though!  Here's a picture of this morning's freshly drained cheese.  I'm working on my photo taking skills.  Really, I am.

A few weeks ago, my daughter, Amanda, and I took a fresh cheese class through the local JC, taught by author Mary Karlin.  Amanda was sweet enough to surprise me with a copy of Mary's book, Artisan Cheese Making at Home.  I now have all the information available to go from the fresh cheeses we beginners learned to any type of cheese I want to make! Next on the list is chevre, a traditional goat's milk cheese.  I've made it before, from another book, but it was always hit-or-miss; I never knew if it would work out the way I wanted it to.  Hands-on with Mary in the class, I now know that I can make an awesome chevre.

The bagels are in the oven and the cream cheese safely in the fridge away from Breezy.  I'm looking forward to my bread and cheese breakfast!

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