Bringing bagels back – the great bagel caper

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I will start off by saying that I have fallen a wee bit – dubiously – in love with the word “caper”. I had not given it a whole lot of thought in my life until recently when someone started using it in everyday life, e.g. “I am not interested in American football and that kind of caper.” This eventually prompted me to look the word up – having previously associated it primarily with pickled little berry things some of us eat and The Great Muppet Caper. I was entertained by the definition (“a frolicsome leap”, “a capricious escapade”, “an illegal or questionable act”).

Tonight’s caper – which, if successful, may lead to the actual consumption of… capers – involves the making and baking of bagels.

It is after all time for me to get back in the saddle with baking in general (I have not really baked since last year) and specifically with my second attempt at making bagels. I got all the “fixins” at the store today (you know, you need that high-gluten flour) and prepared my sponge tonight – it will be ready for full dough making in the morning.

bagel sponge! the blob! it's growing out of control!

bagel sponge! the blob! it’s growing out of control!

My first attempt, I guess, went fine. The final product was bagel-like, and I assume people ate them (because they told me they did). I did not eat them and did not witness anyone eat them, so it is also possible that these mythical eaters took the “bagels” (yes, quotes intentional), murdered people and then weighed down their bodies in the river using these so-called bagels. I just don’t know.

Not knowing, however, has not stopped me from pursuing bagel perfection and currying favor with some beloved colleagues.

A great update on this caper tomorrow when step two (the dough!) gets underway.

Baked goods: Cinnamon rolls

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I had not baked cinnamon rolls since… high school, I think. I had some milk I wanted to use and a desire to get back to making yeast doughs. Cinnamon rolls seemed like a good choice and helped me through a night of insomnia (and meant freshly baked rolls for colleagues just a few hours later). The pictures above represent attempt #1, which was more successful than my second attempt (featured below). Both were good, but I think the second attempt yielded a drier roll. I think I rushed the second attempt and the dough did not turn out as soft. See the unbaked and baked second attempts below.

CINNAMON ROLLS
Dough:
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 cup warm milk (110F/45C)
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted, but slightly cooled, butter
2 large eggs, at room temperature
4 1/2 cups flour

Filling:
1/3 cup softened butter, which you will spread onto the rolled-out dough
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
(You can also add raisins or nuts to the filling, if desired. I never do.)

Cream Cheese Icing:
3 or 4 ounces softened cream cheese (85 to 110 grams)
1/4 cup softened butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl (or stand mixer). Mix in the sugar, butter and eggs. Add flour and mix well. Knead the dough into a large ball (or, if using a stand mixer, use the dough hook for about 5 minutes). Make sure your hands are dusted with flour while doing this. Put in a clean bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1 hour).

After the dough has doubled, turn it onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.

Roll dough into a 16×21 inch rectangle (40cm by 53cm). Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Lightly press the cinnamon-sugar and butter mixture into the dough.

Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400F/200C.

Bake rolls in a preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Then add powdered sugar, then vanilla. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.