I’ve attempted to make sourdough bagels so many times, I’ve lost count. But it seems like perseverance, detailed note-taking and feedback gathering has paid off!
I don’t claim that what I am about to share below is so much a recipe as it is a record of what I did so that I can reference it in the future. I’ve come to realize that written recipes are not that useful for making sourdough bread, when so much of it is based on experience. Here are some of my learnings.
Rye Sourdough Bagels
Makes 4 bagels, each weighing 125g
Total flour (rye + all purpose flour + vital wheat gluten)
All purpose flour
Vital wheat gluten
Diastatic malted barley flour
Make sure the starter is really active, and that it has tripled in volume and is rather bubbly on its surface. It is better to delay baking until the starter is active after multiple feedings; it is almost impossible to come back from a sluggish starter.
Scald rye flour with boiling water. This will create a fluffier loaf, as rye is prone to dense clagginess.
Add all purpose flour to rye/water mixture. Do not be afraid to add more water if it looks and feels like it needs it. My initial recipe was a 55% hydration with 143g water.
Add vital wheat gluten for better structure. It will probably be unnecessary if I had bread flour, but I didn’t, and I had vital wheat gluten anyway.
Let flour mixture autolyze, or sit undisturbed, for 15-30 minutes. This allows gluten structures to form.
Add leaven and barley flour. Knead dough for 5-10 minutes. A 100% rye loaf will not benefit from kneading since it doesn’t contain gluten, but the all purpose flour in this dough will benefit from kneading.
Add salt and caraway, then continue to knead for 5-10 minutes. Salt and caraway are coarse nubbins that will interrupt the gluten formation, and kneading prior to its addition will encourage gluten formation.
Put dough ball in a container with straight sides, flatten the dough ball and mark with tape where the dough height is. First rise should be 30%-50% of dough volume.
Weigh and divide dough into four equal portions; it was 125 grams in this scenario. Shape each portion into a tight ball by pulling dough from the sides and sticking it down the middle. Flip dough ball so that it is seam side down, and cup against kitchen counter to seal the seam.
Roll out each dough ball into a tube with your hand, roughly 6-7 inches long. Drape tube over the tops of your index, middle and ring finger, and pinch together both ends by rolling against the kitchen counter.
Lay parchment paper on baking pan, and sprinkle parchment paper with coarse cornmeal. Lay bagels onto parchment paper.
Lay cling wrap over bagels, and cover with a kitchen towel. Let shaped bagels rise overnight in the fridge; lower shelf for a slower, cooler rise.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 450F.
Boil pot of water with a tablespoon or so of molasses and a dash of baking soda; the water should be foamy and bubbly and look like dark tea.
Drop bagels in gently with a slotted spatula; boil for one minute. Do not fret if bagels do not float at this point! They will likely rise in the oven.
Now that bagels are damp, it’s a good time to apply toppings if you so desire.
Put bagels into oven, and bake for 20-25 minutes until crusty.
For rye bagels, it is especially important to let the bread rest for at least 3-4 hours so that the insides aren’t gummy.
This chocolate chip cookie has such an unusual combination of ingredients that I simply had to try it out for myself. Rye flour, black sesame, and SEAWEED?! Granted, it took me multiple grocery stores to amass this collection of bizarre ingredients (rye flour from Whole Foods, seaweed from Chinatown, and tahini from Trader Joe’s – yes I could’ve gotten all three from the same place, but I wasn’t in a rush.)
Personally I’m not sure the seaweed really added much to the cookie. Granted, I did NOT use salted seaweed snacks. While wouldn’t call it a savory cookie, it certainly had a nutty and unctuous quality, that tasted not too sweet and very grown-up and gourmet.
To me, the best thing about the cookie is actually the bake. It’s baked at a slightly higher temperature of 400F, and cooling it on the tray allows the crust to firm up and stabilize while keeping the cookie soft and gooey in the middle. Not to mention the fun crunchy bits the black sesame seeds on the outside lend to the cookie.
Chocolate Chip Cookies with Black Sesame and Seaweed
Makes 22 cookies
From The New York Times
1 ½ cups/190 grams unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups/140 grams dark rye flour or pumpernickel flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ packed teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
¾ cup/165 grams dark brown sugar
⅔ cup/135 grams granulated sugar
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons/140 grams unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 large eggs plus 1 yolk
⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon/105 grams black sesame paste, such as Kevala Black Sesame Tahini, or regular tahini
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
13 ounces/370 grams 65 to 70 percent dark chocolate, roughly chopped
½ cup/5 grams kizami nori (toasted and shredded seaweed) (see Tip)
1 cup/120 grams black sesame seeds, to coat
In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and rye flours, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt; set aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat both sugars together on medium speed to blend. Add butter and beat on medium until beginning to lighten and starting to become creamy, about 2 minutes.
Add the eggs and egg yolk one at a time to the butter mixture, beating until incorporated, then add the black sesame paste and vanilla, and blend just until combined.
Add the flour mixture all at once, and use a sturdy rubber spatula to fold it into the butter mixture until about halfway combined, and the mixture goes from a shaggy mess to a semi-combined dough. Scatter the chocolate and seaweed on top and fold just until dough forms. (A gentle touch is necessary, as overmixing can cause the dough to separate and crumble.)
Add the black sesame seeds to a shallow bowl. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, portion the dough into about 22 balls (60 grams each). Working with one portion of dough at a time, roll it between your palms until rounded, then gently roll it into the sesame seeds until coated all over. Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet and transfer to the refrigerator to chill at least 4 hours. (You can prepare the dough balls up to one week in advance; transfer to a lidded container or loosely cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate.)
When ready to bake, heat the oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the cookies a few inches apart on a large baking sheet and bake until they have spread out slightly but are still puffed in the center, about 12 minutes. Once you’ve removed the baking sheet from the oven, gently tap the center of each cookie down using the bottom of a ladle, pressing just until you’ve created a slightly indented crater. (This technique helps ensure a gooey and chewy center.)
Allow the cookies to cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Store, covered, at room temperature, up to 2 days.
I’ve been on a sourdough bread kick lately, and I’m finally confident enough about some of my creations to share them on here – namely this multigrain sunflower seed bread. This bread contains a rye levain, rye flour, cracked wheat (i.e. whole wheat berries I blitzed in a blender for a little bit), malted wheat flakes, and whole wheat flour. It is a recipe from Emmanuel Hadjiandreou’s How to Make Bread.
This bread has a really complex flavor and texture profile that I adore. All of the different grains and the sourdough starter come together to create something slightly tangy, but also a little earthy, a little nutty. The sunflower seeds add crunch, and the bread has a crisp crust with a more yielding interior. I love to eat the slices plain, but also lightly toasted.
Having made several recipes from Emmanuel Hadjiandreou’s How to Make Bread, I can finally feel comfortable with this book, and all of its quirks and nuances. The ingredients for each recipe create perfectly harmonious flavors, but the instructions are way off. I never pay attention to the rising times and bake times anymore. I rely on look and feel (and several failed loaves) to figure out rising times, and as for bake times, I have my trusty Thermopop to let me know when a loaf is done. (This King Arthur Flour blog post has been most instructive for appropriate temperatures based on bread type; the kind of crusty/dense sourdough breads I prefer tend to skew hotter, around 210F.)
Multigrain Sunflower Seed Bread
Makes 1 medium (500g) loaf
6×4 inch loaf pan, greased
10g blackstrap or dark molasses
155g warm water
100g chopped/cracked rye berries (I used wheat berries)
140g dark rye flour
30g whole wheat flour
10g malted wheat flakes (substitute with whole wheat flour if you don’t have this)
100g sunflower seeds (I used roasted and unsalted)
3g active dry yeast
80g warm water
60g rye sourdough starter (100% hydration)
In one bowl, mix molasses, 155g water, and chopped/cracked rye berries until molasses dissolve. Let soak until soft – overnight if necessary.
In another bowl, mix flours, salt, seeds. This is your dry mixture.
In a larger mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in 80g water, and stir in sourdough starter. This is your wet mixture.
Add soaked berries to your wet mixture, and mix. Now add dry mixture and stir well.
Cover the bowl with cling wrap or a towel. Complete first rise, or your bulk fermentation, roughly 5-8 hours. The dough should have bubbles under the surface and would have expanded by about 30%.
Spoon mixture into the prepared loaf pan, and use a plastic scraper or tablespoon dipped in water to smooth the surface of the dough.
Cover the loaf pan loosely with greased cling wrap, and let rise until dough reaches slightly over the top of loaf pan.
Preheat oven to 475F with a roasting pan in the bottom. When ready to bake, pour a cup of water into the roasting pan. Put loaf pan in and immediately reduce temperature to 450F.
Bread will take about 45 minutes, or when inner temperature reads close to 205F-210F.
Now that it’s officially fall, it means that turning on the oven to cook is no longer an unwelcome prospect. I came across this chocolate chip cookie recipe on the New York Times and was intrigued by its unconventional additions. It contained rye flour (of which I still had some remaining from my Nordic bread-making experiments), but also dried cranberries and poppy seeds.
The cranberries are a bit sour, and they offset the cookie’s sweetness; the chocolate is bitter, another guard against the cookie’s being too sweet; and the rye flour, well, it makes the cookie a little more tender, but it found a place in the mix because Hirayama was attracted to its beautiful gray color. [The poppyseeds] speckle the cookie, look tweedy and autumnal and taste just this side of knowable — there’s a mystery about them. Hirayama says she added them to make the cookie crunchy, and they do.
I’ve not seen these ingredients in combination before, but it makes so much sense now that I’ve tasted these cookies. Poppy seeds also have a special place in my heart. I had mohnkuchen – or poppy seed cake – in Austria for the first time last Christmas, and it’s not like the sparsely populated application that you see in lemon poppy seed cake – the poppy seeds in mohnkuchen was packed to density and made the cake look nearly black.
But back to these cookies. I really enjoy how sweetness isn’t its primary feature: the nuttiness from the rye flour, the textural complexity from the poppy seeds, plus the generous sprinkle of flaky sea salt definitely makes these a gourmet chocolate chip cookie that you should try making this fall.
Rye-Cranberry Chocolate-Chunk Poppy Seed Cookies
Makes 15 large cookies
1cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons (130 grams) medium rye flour
½cup plus 2 tablespoons (85 grams) all-purpose flour
1teaspoon baking powder
¾teaspoon fine sea salt
½teaspoon baking soda
10tablespoons (140 grams) unsalted butter at cool room temperature
½cup (100 grams) sugar
½cup (100 grams) light brown sugar
⅓cup (50 grams) poppy seeds
⅔cup (80 grams) moist, plump dried cranberries (I did this by steeping my dried cranberries in hot water for about 15 minutes)
4ounces (113 grams) bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks
Flake salt, such as Maldon, for sprinkling
Whisk together the rye flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, sea salt and baking soda; set aside.
Working with a mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment, if you have one), beat the butter and both sugars together on medium speed for 3 minutes, until blended; scrape the bowl as needed. Add the egg, and beat 2 minutes more. Turn off the mixer, add the dry ingredients all at once, then pulse the mixer a few times to begin blending the ingredients. Beat on low speed until the flour almost disappears, and then add the poppy seeds, cranberries and chocolate. Mix only until incorporated. Scrape the bowl to bring the dough together.
Have a baking sheet lined with parchment, foil or plastic wrap nearby. Divide the dough into 15 pieces, roll each piece into a ball between your palms and place on the baking sheet. Cover, and refrigerate the dough overnight or for up to 3 days. (If you’d like, you can wrap the balls airtight and freeze them for up to 1 month. Defrost them overnight in the fridge before baking.)
When you’re ready to bake, center a rack in the oven, and heat it to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Arrange the cookies on the sheet, leaving 2 inches between each cookie (work with half a batch at a time and keep the remaining balls of dough in the refrigerator until needed). Sprinkle each cookie with a little flake salt, crushing it between your fingers as you do.
Bake the cookies for 10 minutes, pull the baking sheet from the oven and, using a metal spatula, a pancake turner or the bottom of a glass, tap each cookie lightly. Let the cookies rest on the sheet for 3 minutes, then carefully transfer them to a rack. Repeat with the remaining dough, always using cold dough and a cool baking sheet.
Serve after the cookies have cooled for about 10 minutes, or wait until they reach room temperature.