Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I'll Just Do It Myself

How many times have you caught yourself saying those words? I know that me, being the Type A (read: somewhat Anal) perfectionist that I am, it's usually one of the first things out of my mouth when I'm faced with a group or team project. Unfortunately, at least to me, it seems that it really is best if I did the assignments myself - even working with close friends of mine I find more things to nit-pick on than praise. It's not a conscious thing I do, and I hate doing it really - it makes me feel like such a meanie! - but by letting things slide that I know could be just that much better it betrays my whole quest for that Holy Grail of the A grade. And then I wonder why I'm so stressed out! Ah well, I guess admitting the problem is the first step to overcoming it, right?

The one thing that I can always remain confident that I do better than "the standard" is baking. I'm sure that everyone who's ever made their own bread - or at least eaten a slice of a rustic loaf made from scratch (that never spent a second on a grocery store shelf!) can attest to the fact that the lack of mass production, bleaches, softeners and preservatives really does make bread better!

It's not new, earth-shattering science, to be sure. But it's still a dying art - depressing, since a simple loaf of good bread right from your oven can be done start to finish in two hours tops with rapid-rise yeast. If you have a Sunday afternoon you can even use the regular old dry active kind and throw in extra things to jazz up your week. For me, a batch of something yeasted every week is my little sanity window. Though I use a machine to do the bulk of the kneading work (let's face it... my stringy arms + stiff dough for 20 minutes or so would just not work!) I always make a point to finish the work off by hand. You can't feel if a dough is silky smooth and supple with a mixer, nor can you really lay claim to "making" your bread if all you did was hit "start" on a machine. With bagels in particular, you can always tell the work from the heart that goes into them - the little extra work they take always shines through!

For the latest round of chewy, sweet bagels I made my mom for her work lunches, I not only used up not only the last of my homemade apple butter but I added an extra (and may I say unique) layer of apple-cinnamon flavour with some of my favourite apple tea in the dough. Then, when I was bringing the boiling liquid up to temperature, I was hit with a flash of ingenuity... why not add a teabag to the pot too? So I did. Did it make a difference? I don't know for sure, but it didn't hurt!

These bagels are my contribution to YeastSpotting at Wild Yeast. Thanks Susan!

Apple-Cinnamon Tea Bagels
Makes 8
3 cups whole wheat flour
4 tsp vital wheat gluten
1 tbsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1 pkg instant yeast
2/3 cups warm, strong-brewed apple cinnamon herbal tea
1/4 cup brown sugar
¾ cup apple butter
1 apple-cinnamon herbal tea bag
2 tbsp honey
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, gluten, cinnamon, salt and yeast.
  2. In another bowl, stir together the tea, brown sugar and apple butter.
  3. Add the tea mixture to the dry ingredients, mix with the dough hook for 12 minutes, until very elastic (it is a fairly stiff dough, though).
  4. Cover and let rest for 40 minutes.
  5. Cut the dough into eight 4-oz portions, shape each into a ring and place on a lined baking sheet.
  6. Cover and let rest 1 1/2 hours.
  7. Preheat oven to 400F and bring a large pot of water to a boil, adding the tea bag and honey.
  8. Boil bagels two at a time for two minutes per side. Drain well and place on a lined cookie sheet.
  9. When all the bagels have been boiled, place into the oven and bake 20 minutes.
  10. Cool on wire racks and enjoy!
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 233.4
Total Fat: 0.9 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 9.6 mg
Total Carbs: 51.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 5.9 g
Protein: 8.1 g


  1. Ooh these sound yummy! Homemade bagels are so unbelievably delicious.

  2. We use tea to flavor our apple sauce & it really is amazing how the flavor comes through

  3. Not to be alarming, but as soon as I saw these were made with whole wheat flour I went 'I love you.'

    It's just so difficult/disapppointing to replace white flour with whole wheat, as I sometimes do for recipes, knowing they'll taste different then what the person originally described.

    Also. I love apple-cinnamon tea, but I don't have any. I do have 'sugar plum tea'. I might just try that. Love bagels.

    Thanks for this recipe! It looks/sounds delicious!

  4. I agree with you that I definitely find comfort in the fact that I bake/cook better than the majority of other people out there.

    I love this bagel recipe! The apple cinnamon flavor sounds perfect for breakfast.

  5. The bagels sound delicious, but not sure I can get wheat gluten here in Scotland? Do you think they would work without it?


Thanks for the feedback!