Sunday, December 9, 2012

Bagels, Montreal Style - Baking GALS Round 16





This month I decided to go savory rather than sweet.  The shipping period happened to coincide with Hanukkah so I figured, why not bagels?  I’m not into deep frying so no donut-making for me, and I’m sure there are some guys out there who would appreciate something other than Christmas cookies this time of year…

For years there has been a bagel debate – New York or Montreal?  Seriously, check out this article dating back to 1987: 
And this one from 2009: 

Well, the answer to that question may depend on the answer to what you like on your bagel.  Cream cheese or butter?  What do you like it topped with?  Cheese, salt, poppy seeds, plain (c’mon, who likes plain??), everything, even jalape├▒os or spinach these days.  The Canadians go simple.  There are generally only three varieties – plain, sesame or poppy seed.  The major difference between the bagels you and I are used to (New York) and the Montreal style is honey.  There’s honey in the dough and honey in the water you boil them in.  Because of that mild sweetness, the preferred way to eat them is toasted with butter – again, simple, and I gotta say – pretty darn delicious.


I’m afraid I can’t share the recipe with you this time.  I bugged my Montreal bagel expert for his recipe multiple times, which is one his family has used for years, and I said I would keep it under wraps.  The recipe in the first article above is quite similar to what I used though, so at least you’ll be able to get close!  Since I’m not all that familiar with what these are supposed to taste like, I brought in the expert for a critique (nerve-wracking!) and here’s the verdict:

APPEARANCE:  Good color, good seed disbursement (should be on both sides), good size, but not quite the crisp crust they should have.  Argh!  I have learned that a baking stone is the way to go rather than cookie sheets.  And no need to preheat it as you usually do with pizza - just put the bagels on and put it all in the oven at once.

SMELL:  This made me nervous.  The initial assessment was, “These don’t smell like Montreal bagels.”  Uh oh.  I totally blame the bag.  I had made them earlier in the week and froze them for a few days so they wouldn’t go stale – I think the smell test was unfair J

UNTOASTED FLAVOR:  Good reaction!  They tasted the way they should and even warranted me a high-five.  Nice.

And the final test…

TOASTED WITH BUTTER:  Immediate reaction - “MMMM!”  Score, me!  That was all I needed to hear.


I definitely think I can perfect these bagels – not in flavor, but in technique.  I have some baking tricks up my sleeve that I have yet to pull out.   The good thing is, while time consuming, they are really fun to make – the kneading, the rolling, the boiling, the seeding…it’s a process but definitely one that pays off.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Serbian Lazy Apple Pie




Believe it or not, I did not make up the name of this dessert.  And quite frankly I have no idea why it’s called this because I made an apple pie a couple months ago and this pie/cake was just as involved, if not more so.  It’s an odd recipe – for one thing, it was in metric measurements and for us here in the US who are not engineers, metric makes no sense, not to mention it just says to bake “at medium heat” – wtf?!?  Also, there is virtually nothing in the recipe to flavor the cake, except for "vanilla sugar" which doesn’t even have a measurement listed next to it.  I converted the measurements to terms I could understand and took the flavoring into my own hands.  All in all, not bad.  Not a cake I would crave or likely make again anytime soon, but it was fun to do something different, and the birthday boy I made this for (who is Serbian) was quite pleased – in the end, that’s all that matters.  


Ingredients

14 Tbsp margarine/butter (1 ¾ sticks)
7 Tbsp lard (I used vegetable-based Crisco)
1 ¾ cup sugar
4 eggs, separated
2 cups milk
2 ½ -2 ¾ cups AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
2+ lbs sour apples, grated (I used granny smith)
Powdered sugar for topping after baking
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract – my addition
Cinnamon & Nutmeg – my additions

Instructions

Stir together the margarine/butter and lard.  Add 10 Tbsp and egg yolks and continue stirring until well mixed.

Add milk, vanilla extract (if using), flour and baking powder.  Stir well.  Batter will be thick.

Pour slightly more than half the batter into a greased 9x13” baking pan.

Beat the egg whites with the remaining 4 Tbsp sugar just until you get firm peaks.  Spread the egg whites over the batter in the pan.

Mix grated apples with cinnamon and nutmeg (I highly recommend the spices here) to taste.  Distribute evenly over the egg whites.

Pour the remaining batter over the apples and with a rubber scraper/greased spatula, spread the batter evenly to completely cover the apples.

Bake at 350┬║ for about an hour, but start checking it after about 25 min and keep adding 5 minutes at a time until the top is browned, a little crackly, and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let cool for about 5 minutes then sprinkle the top of the cake with powdered sugar.  Let cool another 15-20 minutes or so then sprinkle with another coating of sugar.  Enjoy!



*Ed. note - sorry for the picture quality this time around...not the best lighting!