Don’t be afraid. This is not a picture of an alien or an alien space craft or some weird fungus. This, to my consternation, is my bagel dough the third in the BBA Challenge instigated at Pinch My Salt (a lovely blog describing baking adventures).
It’s been a sad, sad tale of baking in the night.
I had a solid plan all in place. I would come home, relax a bit with dear hubby and then make the sponge for the bagels. While that brewed away, I would rustle up some dinner for the two of us, eat it and then the dough would be ready for shaping. Some resting, dunk testing and into the frig. A great plan.
The reality was a bit different. Things started off fine. Home (a bit later than expected…you know, job…very intrusive) I changed into my baking duds (sweats to some), visited with the hubby and – this is where things started going awry – thought, “Pasta! Some nice fresh pasta. That’s the ticket to go with the leftover London broil.” Pasta is fast right? Eggs, flour, mixing, run it through the pasta machine and done.
So, I amend the plan. Make the pasta dough. While it’s resting make the sponge. Then roll it, slice it and boil. Perfect.
As you may know pasta making can be an evil business. The dough can be very resistant to just about everything. I thought I had it down. Nice consistency, lots of flouring between rolling. It’ll be fine. And, just to be sure that things would go wrong, I decided to try Semolina flour instead of the usual AP. It’s different. I used the proportions specified in the wonderful book Ratio by Michael Ruhlman (more about this great book in another post). 3 parts flour, 2 parts egg. Supposed to be golden. But I find that you need quite a bit more flour than that. Okay, a lot more flour than that. After much mixing and hand kneading we (the dough and I) arrive at a reasonable consistency. It’s soft and smooth. I’m beginning to fray around the edges. The pasta dough is resting.
On to the sponge. Sounds pretty darn easy. I carefully measure the flour (I used 1/2 high-gluten and 1/2 bread flour) and the yeast. Measure out the water . Carefully following the directions I whisk the flour as I pour the water in. Almost immediately the flour seems to absorb the water as if it’s spent 3 days in the desert. I add some more water but now the mass has kind of bound itself together. Just a lumpy mass. Not smooth. Not pancake batter-like. Not like it says in the recipe. Okay. I figure I’ll let it do it’s 2 hour sit to bubble and double. Let it think about what’s it’s done.
Back to the pasta. This next part mostly went well except that it took about twice as long as I thought it would (or should). I found a pretty good method as I went along of using the rollers to massage and condition the dough getting it into a nice smooth slab. I ran it through the largest size, doubled it, folded in any ragged edges and rolled again. And again. And maybe some more. (TIP: If some sneaky, sticky edge gets stuck to the roller thingies stop everything and clean the stupid thing right then. Otherwise, it just keeps grabbing the dough. Don’t ask how I know that.) Anyway, the pasta gets rolled quite nicely down to a 4 or 5 on the machine (there was no way I was getting it any thinner). I cut it and let it rest while the water boiled.
From there, dinner was about made. Fresh pasta with butter and parmesan. London broil. Artos bread (it’s all coming together). We eat and watch some tube. Now it’s time to take the next bagel step. That’s when I knew that the plan was not all it was cracked up to be. The sponge had certainly bubbled and grown. It was definitely about double. But it was still woefully lumpy. I mean seriously lumpy. Like a bed with a cat under the covers. (Don’t ask how I know that either.) Okay. It’ll be fine. Once I put it into the mixer and add the malt, salt, more yeast, more flour it’ll all smooth out and be fine.
As you can see from the picture above that wasn’t quite the case. What started out lumpy just pretty much stayed lumpy. I was able to incorporate most of the flour with machine mixing and then turned it out on a board. I was going to teach it a thing or two. I kneaded and kneaded and kneaded. It was the springiest, spongiest mass you can imagine. Kind of like rubber cement that’s tacky only a lot bigger. It did seem to get somewhat smoother and I had read that it was going to be quite stiff. So I cut it into 12 pieces and let it rest. I threw a couple of warning looks their way too. Just to keep them in line.
After their 20 minute nap I began the bagel shaping process. The dough was so springy (tough?) it was hard to put my fingers through to make a hole. And they still looked seriously lumpy. I found if I worked the little pieces like mini-boules I could then poke through and have a somewhat smooth looking exterior.
I think they probably would have floated right then. They felt like bath toys. But I let them rest under plastic for another 20 minutes. They passed the float test on the first try. They’re currently in the refrigerator for their delayed rise.
Tomorrow the boiling and baking. What can go wrong?