Attack of the Homemade

Monday, February 11, 2013
We joke around here that we'll run out of things to make from scratch. For the most part, and to the never-ending dissatisfaction of a snacky Andy on the hour-long car ride home, ingredients make up the weekly grocery run and there's never much in my shopping bags that can be consumed straight from the package. (Other than fruit - the original fast food.) I prefer to go homemade because I truly enjoy cooking and baking and I prefer to avoid preservatives and other additives in my baked goods.

Still,  there are plenty of foods that I prefer to buy in their completed form because it's either more cost or time effective that way or because we simply prefer the store-bought version:  salsa, tortillas, breakfast cereal (at least until I really prefect my muesli and granola skills), butter, peanut butter, etc.  Despite the helpful and well-meaning comments from many, I've still had no luck making homemade yogurt (third time was not the charm) and so I'll just continue to buy yogurt until I have an electric oven, a home that doesn't fluctuate between 80-55 degrees F on any given winter night, and/or a fancy yogurt thermos. I buy granola bars pretty frequently too, simply because I don't care to make them at the rate at which they are consumed in this house.  And bagels. I always buy bagels.Or at least, I used to.   

While I've always known you could make your own homemade bagels, growing up we always had store-bought bagels, a habit I suspect had its roots in the fact that my toddler days were spent within walking distance of The Positively Third Street Bakery in Duluth. In fact, the idea of making our own bagels didn't even cross my mind until we had some dinner guests last week who brought over delicious homemade bagels and a pound of cheese. They kindly left the leftover bagels with us and as I bit into a toasted cinnamon bagel the next morning, I knew I had to try my hand at making bagels.

I ended up going with a recipe from Annie's Eats.  I made a couple tweaks out of necessity - using regular yeast instead of instant, and regular all-purpose flour instead of bread flour. I reduced the amount of flour added to the risen sponge by 3/4 cup because the humidity is very low in our house in the winter. I also reduced the boiling time to 50 seconds per side because while I like a chewy bagel, I do not want to have to gnaw on bagels like a teething toy.

Here's what I learned:
  • Bagels get their shape by forming rolls and then poking your fingers through the center of the roll after 20 minutes. I'd always assumed that you shaped the dough into a tube and then looped the ends together. (This assumption made me worry that the bagel would fall apart when it reached the boiling water and actually kept me from trying my hand at making bagels for a long time.) 
  • You have to let bagels rest overnight to get the best flavor. 
  • It's really fun to boil bagels.
  • Making bagels only requires about an hour of actual hands on time.
  • The hardest part of it all is kneading the very stiff dough.  
  • Homemade bagels are beautiful and so, so good.

From front to back: onion bagels, plain, and cinnamon sugar
Now Andy refuses to eat store bought bagels. A high compliment indeed, but maybe not exactly what I was going for. On the bright side, because making bagels is a two-day process, it actually wouldn't be too hard to make a batch (which yielded 13 bagels - a Baker's dozen! - for me) over the course of two work nights.

In other "homemade" news, Andy and I teamed up to give him a simple buzz cut on Saturday night. Andy's hair grows like a weed and he perpetually procrastinates with making hair cut appointments. For a first try, the results really aren't too bad and he won't have to wear a hat for the next month.

Still, any tips for home haircuts would be appreciated. It was a little nerve-wracking for all involved parties this first time, but all's well that ends well, as Ma Ingalls would say.


  1. We eat so many bagels in this house, and english muffins! Two things I rarely make from scratch, but I have seen good recipes for both, just been too lazy to give them a try. But I'm thinking I might try the english muffins this week. I'll be sure to share if I do! :)

  2. IMPRESSIVE! I have never even thought to tackle baking bagels myself. Now I am interested in trying!!!

  3. Oh my, those look amazing! I might just have to get off my lazy butt and try to make bagels too!!

  4. Bagels are my very favorite thing to bake. There was an infamous Easter a couple years back where I made a couple dozen homemade bagels and they disappeared within hours.

  5. Bagels are my very favorite thing to bake. There was an infamous Easter a couple years back where I made a couple dozen homemade bagels and they disappeared within hours.


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