Friday, October 16, 2009

CINNAMON DRIED CRANBERRY BAGELS

MANNA FROM HEAVEN


THINKING BREAD on WORLD BREAD DAY


Manna poured down from the heavens and our fate was sealed. We became a bread-loving people. Rye, plain, marbled or studded with aromatic cumin seeds, piled high with salami or pastrami or corned beef. Challah sweet and elegant, lovingly braided once a week to celebrate the Sabbath or sweetened with honey and almonds and formed into round loaves to be eaten at the New Year. Tall, airy Kugelhof or warm, flat mufleta depending on where we come from, and of course pita stuffed with hummus and falafel balls.


Bread is an important staple on Jewish tables and has sacred meaning twined into most festivals and celebrations. As Claudia Roden writes in her marvelous The Book of Jewish Food, “(Different types of bread are) surrounded by folklore and tradition and loaded with symbolism.” The lovely Challah symbolizes love, the braids like intertwined arms. Shaped into circles, the New Year Challah represents a sweet, round year, beginning to end and back to the beginning again (“no beginning and no end”). And, of course, the much-maligned matzoh, the flat, crispy, flavorless unleavened bread eaten during the 8 days of Passover. Non-Jews everywhere recoil in horror at the thought of it, bland and dry, and JP, for one, cannot fathom my love for the stuff, symbolism and holiday aside. He shakes his head in dismay as I slather it with peanut butter and jelly or hummus and relish every mouthful.

And then there is the bagel, the homely bagel. More culinary folklore than religious symbolism, the popularity of the bagel has spread like wildfire around the world. From a Jewish street hawker then Jewish deli specialty to being associated with New York City, to being found in bakeries across the United States and in many European cities as well as being baked in home kitchens around the world, this wonderful, chewy bread, the backdrop to so many foods, the base for so many flavors, is now truly universal. I remember when JP started working in England and excitedly announced (for my pleasure alone) that there was a bagel stand in the London train station and he could bring me fresh bagels weekly. Sweet man!


Li'l bro eating a bagel at the synagogue way back when.

Bagels, again according to Claudia Roden, are of German Jewish origin and “because of their shape – with no beginning and no end – symbolize the eternal cycle of life. In the old days, they were supposed to be a protection against demons and evil spirits, warding off the evil eye and bringing good luck.” That adds to the pleasure, the comfort of eating one. A bagel a day may not keep the doctor away but it may keep Mr. Devil away, which is even better!


Bagels were a thing of my youth, weekend treats spread with cream cheese and layers of salty, fishy, fabulous Nova lox, a thing of beauty. Or toasted the next day, peanut butter melting on the warm bread. Visits to Grandma’s or Aunt Millie’s when we waited impatiently for the Sunday morning spread: real fresh-from-the-baker’s-oven-warm New York bagels, scallion-studded cream cheese and a plate loaded down with not only silky lox, but delicate, meltingly smooth sable and those golden smoked whitefish. Endless Bar and Bat Mitzvah luncheons and every day-after-wedding brunch would invariably find us lined up at the bagel table, choosing our flavor and hemming and hawing over the toppings, either whitefish or tuna salad spreads, chopped liver or that good old standby smoked salmon. Packages kept in the freezer at home to be pulled apart and popped into the toaster oven. Oh, not as good as bakery fresh, but oh so comforting. As I got older and started working in New York, I’d pick up a fresh cinnamon raisin bagel on my way from the subway to the gallery and bring it to work, toasting it in the back room and eating it with a cup of coffee those days when my bosses were out of town, my guilty pleasure. Visits to my brother Michael in Brooklyn always meant a trip to the neighborhood bagel shop for a bagful, sesame and poppy seed, studded with blueberries or “old faithful”, my favorite, cinnamon raisin.

France may be bread heaven, but for a bagel-loving girl it is sheer torment. I can find heavenly chopped liver, just like my dad’s, or the best cheesecake on the Rue des Rosiers. Gorgeous Challah can be found almost as easily as brioche and matzoh is now stocked in our supermarch√©. But Bagels? I have heard that since I’ve left Paris a couple of ingenious fellow bagel lovers have set up shop, but the closest I get in Nantes to a bagel is a bag of frozen ones at Picard, and not the best I’ve ever tasted. And when they have them in stock. So I have learned to make my own.


My very first attempt at making Challah! Back 25 years or so ago.

Every month I participate in Bread Baking Day (also known as BBD), a monthly bread baking event created by Zorra of Kochtopf. Thanks to Zorra, I have found my “bread legs”, have overcome my fear of yeast and lack of bread-baking self-confidence. Now I can march resolutely into the kitchen, tie the apron around my waist and jump into the process without trembling. Flour flying in puffs around me, dog happily lapping up the overflow from the parquet, yeast bubbling and frothing, I am in bread-baking heaven. And today, October 16th, she is hosting the 4th edition of World Bread Day, the day that everyone across the globe is invited to bake, buy or just eat bread and talk about it. This could be your day to taste a new bread – go on, dare! – or try your hand at bread baking, with or without yeast, savory or sweet. Find your passion and let’s do bread!!!

I have made my second batch of homemade bagels for World Bread Day: wonderfully fragrant and sweet Cinnamon-Cranberry Bagels. I followed the same recipe from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice as on my maiden bagel voyage and though they may not be pretty on the outside, these bagels were perfect! Chewy and tender, slightly sweet bread matched with the tang of dried cranberries.


CINNAMON – DRIED CRANBERRY BAGELS

Click here for the recipe and step-by-step photo instructions. For either Cinnamon – Dried Cranberry or Cinnamon – Raisin Bagels (or really any dried fruit) just make these adjustments:

Increase the active dry yeast in the final dough to 1 teaspoon.

Add 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon + 5 tablespoons granulated sugar to the final dough.

Rinse 2 cups of loosely packed raisins with warm water to rinse off the surface sugar, acid and natural wild yeast. Add the raisins during the final 2 minutes of mixing. ** I divided my dough in half and kneaded in 1 cup rinsed (and patted dry) raisins to one half of the dough and 1 cup rinsed and dried dried cranberries to the other half. Next time I will use only 2 cups dried cranberries as I preferred the stronger, tangier flavor.

Lovely cinnamon-scented dough. "Where's the fruit?"

Ah, lovely: half with raisins and half with dried cranberries!

Mmmm, Jamie loves the dried cranberries the best!


Perfect and ready to shape into bagels!

Divide up and let rest a bit.

Gorgeous! After shaping and retarded rising overnight in the fridge. See the cinnamon?

Maybe not bakery pretty, but fabulous none the less. Perfect inside and out!

See what I mean? Scrumptious! Hello, Sunday morning!

41 comments:

Happy cook said...

I have to shamefully admit I have never made bagles at home.
I love that it is studded with the cranberries.
You know when i was back in India,( well i am talking aobut when i was young, now it has changed there too) we only had bread when we were sick.
And it was a shock to me when i gound out here in belgium they ate bread morning and evening :-)

La Table De Nana said...

They are just gorgeous!! We love Bagels..and have 2 stores in Montreal we favor..1 in particular..to go and buy them fresh and munch into one..is heaven on earth~

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I love bagels, Jewish food and Claudia Roden! I really have to add this book to my collection!

Those bagels are fantastic!

Cheers,

Rosa

bethany (Dirty Kitchen Secrets) said...

I love the sound of those bagels. This reminds me of the best bagels we used to have back when we lived in Miami. It was a jewish deli and the guy also made his own cream cheese. Man they were so addictive. Must make these soonx

The Cooking Ninja said...

oooh...that looks so good. I have to gather my courage to do this bagel. :)

Alessio Fangano said...

I never made bagels in my cook life (actually baked bread once or twice at all). After reading ur post and watching Julia Child's episode on bread I might start doing it more often :-))
Bagels look very versatile too, yeah! :D

Pink Little Cake said...

What a great tutorial! thank you for sharing.

asiangrrl said...

I love bagels, Jamie. However, I live in the Midwest, so it's hard to get real bagels. Yours look fantastic!

TKW said...

That poster is just hilarious! Bagels are beautiful--you did great.

Mowie @ Mowielicious said...

Jamie - I've never had cranberry bagels, and just the thought of them, and these photos, are making me crave them because I can just imagine how perfect cranberry's would be in bagels. Yum!

Aparna said...

These look perfect. Never knew about the "endless circle" symbolism.
Made bagels long back. You remind me I should again, soon.

You kno, I also found my "bread legs" with BBD! :)

sunita said...

Loved the post Jamie. I've never made bagels either. Maybe i will fond my bagel feet soon too :-)

KennyT said...

Jamie's bagels always look perfect! ^^

Deeba @Passionate About Baking said...

LOL...I love the expression on his face! I've always wantd to amke bagels, & never actually got down to it. Am giggling at Happy Cook's comment! How times have changed, in our home at least! I've got to make hthese soon Jamie...YUM!!

Heavenly Housewife said...

Bagels are on my list of all time favorite foods. I eat them several times a week, without fail (sometimes every day for breakfast). Sometimes its hard to find nice ones in england--particularly outside of london. Would love to try making them at home, but my fridge isnt big enough for the proofing (its just a small under the counter fridge).

Colloquial Cook said...

Never made bagels, but I made bretzels! You make me nostalgic of the NYC bagels with lox and creamcheese...

Jamie said...

@Heavenly Housewife: And I thought my fridge was small! You are right tho that you need a fridge though you could try proofing them at room temp, well covered, for an hour or so till they look the size of mine after proofing. Should work.

And all of you should try making bagels, they are a joy to eat!

@asiangrrl: One day, I promise, I'll live close enough to you to bake for you every day! Maybe we'll grow old and fat together.

Jamie said...

@Colloquial Cook: I so want to make those big chewy bretzels! Supposedly the same as bagels. Yum! With coarse salt!

Jenn said...

I'd love to make bagels one of these days. One day I will. Nicely done. I like to put s ton of schmear on mine. lol. And with a little bit of lox sometimes (depending on my mood that day).

Happy bread day!!

Jamie said...

Hi Jamie! I haven't left a comment in awhile. It's been pretty busy around here lately. I am amazed that you made bagels. You are super talented. I haven't overcome my fear of yeast and dough but I want to break through and challenge myself to bread baking. Being of the Jewish faith myself (I bet you didn't know that), I love bagels and your post brought back memories of bagels with cream cheese and lox. I love sesame, everything and cinnamon raisin bagels the most. Do you have a recipe that would be a good starter one for bread making?

Fresh Local and Best said...

This is such an informative post, and I appreciate you sharing so much history related to bread and the Jewish religion.

Thanks for sharing information about BBD!

Barbara Bakes said...

I think you bagels are beautiful! Loved reading your history! I'll take a cranberry please!

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Gorgeous bagels! Perfect for breakfast with a little cream cheese.
Happy World Bread Day!

lisaiscooking said...

Your bagels look great! I've found the one problem with homemade bagels is that I end with a lot them and eat them all!

Cinnamon-Girl Reeni♥ said...

These are so - bakery pretty! And I bet they taste even better 'cause their made with love!

Jamie said...

@Jamie - Boston Terrier owner, Floridian, psych major, now why doesn't your being Jewish surprise me? Jamie!

I'll send you a one or two easy first-time yeast baking recipes.

Sophie said...

Waw,...what a lovely story!! Your bagels look fabulous!!!

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMM,...

Lien said...

Great post, (where do you keep coming up with these lovely old pictures!) your first shot a baking a challah were already a success I see! Lovely bagels too

Bethie said...

Those look so delicious. I would love one slathered in butter.

Amy - Very Culinary said...

Bagels were (and will always be) a staple in my house, too. When I was a kid, my grandparents used to drive from Chicago to San Francisco (!) on long holiday weekends. And they always had a trunk full of the BEST bagels I have ever had (to this day.) My mother would freeze them, so we could enjoy them until my grandparent's next visit.

These were the real deal. None of this mass-produced grocery store b.s., where they are all perfectly round and taste like rubber. Oh no. These had lots of flaws. And tasted fresh. Onion, sesame seed, raisin. With cream cheese or lox, as you said. PERFECT.

I didn't know the history of the bagel, though. Love it!

I wonder if shop in Chicago still exists? My grandparents are long gone and I haven't had one of these delights in a very long time.

glamah16 said...

Making Bagels is on my to do list for sure. I don't know whats taken me so long. Great post on the history behind it. I love Claudia Rodens book on Jewish Food.

Murasaki Shikibu said...

Bagels are delicious. We used to buy these cinnamon sugar coated ones for breakfast meetings at the ad agency and our clients loved them so much they'd take some back to their office wrapped in paper napkins. ;)

Chef E said...

I interviewed for a bagel making manager position once, and told them I had never attempted them before, and they sent me packing, LOL! I would not attempt to put mine up against yours! Yours rock, and I love fruit in my bagels or cream cheese when I eat them...

Katy ~ said...

Exquisite! Beautiful post. Thank you so much.

George@CulinaryTravels said...

Absolutely beautiful bread Jamie. I adore bagels.

Anushruti said...

Your pictures take one into another era and I love the way you have with your words!

girlichef said...

They're just gorgeous!! My youngest made me promise to buy bagels today, because we ran out yesterday. Promise!! If only I had the courage to surprise him with homemade ones!! Beautiful :D

The Bewildered Brit said...

What a wonderful post! Bread has always been one of my greatest pleasures in life. There's simply nothing more lovely than the smell of fresh-baked bread.

I remember my introduction to "real" bagels on my first trip to NYC back in 1990. You could only get poor quality ones in the supermarket back in the UK. Oh my goodness, these bagels were simply wonderful!

I think I'll have to try your cinnamon raisin bagel recipe now!

Oh and that's a truly lovely advertisement with Buster Keaton in it!

5 Star Foodie said...

We have bagels every Sunday! Your raisin bagels are so gorgeous!

zorra said...

My dear, what a wonderful post. Very informative and personal. And I love your bagels of course!

Thank you for your participation in World Bread Day 2009. Yes you baked! :-)

Phil said...

I just came across this blog while searching for "bagels nantes".
Being from Toronto, I used to go every weekend to Gryfe's for the best bagels, the only problem being waiting in line for twenty minutes. Since I've been in France I've found very medicore bagels one or two times at Lidl, and when I lived in Poitiers I made them twice, without being too pleased with the result. We have a friend from Montreal staying with us this week, which reinspired me. I'm gonna give this recipe a go! Cheers!

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