My current driving questions concern the amount of flour called
for in recipes and right now it is bagel recipes. First of all I should say
that I have
become very scientific and precise when it comes to measuring flour. I
aerate the flour - fluff it around with a spoon in the large container I
store it in and then carefully sprinkle it with a spoon into my measuring
cup till overflowing and then without tapping I level it with a straight
edge. My cups of flour weigh about 4.5 ounces (all purpose, white whole
wheat, and fresh ground whole wheat). This matches the figures that Gold
Medal flour company shared with the authors of Bread Machine Magic Book
of Helpful Hints (I think - the book is not in front of me now and I am
going by memory). Some store bought (bitter btw) whole wheat flours have
weighed 4.75 - 5 ounces per cup. But almost all flours I study weigh
approx 4.5 ounces per cup. I generally use King Arthur flours, but also
have weighed Arrowhead Mills flours and get the same results.
I will only try no fat added recipes for bagels or make adjustments for
fat called for. But there are many no fat added bagel recipes everywhere.
I have what seems to be a wonderful book called "The Best Bagels Are Made
At Home" by Dona Z. Meilach and many other bread machine cookbooks with
bagel recipes. My first reaction was that the bagel cookbook was surely
the bible on bagel recipes and information and since the flour to liquid
ratios in this book were so different I started with a recipe from the
bagel cookbook. She clearly states that these recipes are great for
bread machines and gives a whole section on using your bread machine to
make the dough. I will share the first one I tried here. My first
inclination was that wow - that seems like it will produce a very dry
stiff dough, but since Meilach says that bagel dough should be *stiff* I
started with her measurements. Will some experienced bakers just look at
this recipe and see if their first impression is the same as mine. Btw -
almost all Meilach's small recipes are based on 3/4 C liquid to 2 3/4 C
flour - which in my opinion could never work - no matter how you prepared
the dough - machine, mixer, food processor or by hand!
Orange Cranberry Bagels (pg 101) (don't follow this recipe without water
in hand) This recipe has a total of 3/4 c. liquid as written.
1/4 c. water
1/2 c. orange juice
1.5 T grated orange peel
1 T brown sugar or molasses
3/4 t. salt
2 3/4 C bread flour (see my note above for how well I measure flour)
1.5 t. active dry yeast
I have a Breadman Plus machine. After 11 minutes of kneading, the dough
was so stiff the machine almost quit working and sounded very
overworked (never had this problem with any recipe before). I added 1 T
water, which was not enough and continued until
I had added 3 T additional water total. The dough was still very stiff,
but as this was my first experience with bagels I did not add anymore
water. The resulting dough was so dry that it was almost separating in
layers as I was trying to form bagels. Another thing was that Meilach
suggests a second 20 minute rise after the bagels are formed. This
produced a very airy light non-bagel like bagel when I applied it to the
cinnamon raisin bagels below.
I was studying recipes in Donna Rathmell German's book "The Bread Machine
Cookbook VI" I noticed that her recipes seemed much more liquid friendly
and so tried this recipe:
Cinnamon Raisin Bagels (pg 91) (don't try this recipe without flour in hand)
1 1/4 C water
2 T sugar
1/2 t salt
1 t cinnamon
3 C all purpose flour
2 t yeast
1/3 C raisins added at the end of kneading
Well, disappointingly this recipe was soooo wet that I ended up having to
add an additional 7 Tablespoons of flour and still the dough was somewhat
slack - very different than Meilach describes bagel dough should be in
her Best Bagels book.
The cinnamon raisin bagels turned out the best, as they were very close
to the texture of the best bagels I have purchased in bakeries. German
states not to give a second rise after the bagels are shaped - to proceed
right away to boiling. This produced the closest thing to a real bagel.
I guess what I want to hear from other bakers is why would cookbooks
actually go to press with such a discrepancy on major ingredients - or is
it me? Almost all the recipes in those 2 books seemed to have similar
liquid/flour ratios within the covers of each book. I have always had to
adjust flour/water by a tablespoon or so -
but this was crazy. No wonder so many bread machines are returned. The
recipes I have gotten off these lists and in the
fatfree archives have been great - it seems if someone has actually tried
them and posted them to the list they work well most of the time. But
aren't these cookbook recipes tested by many people before they are
published? I am certainly not knocking the credibility of the authors of
these 2 cookbooks and I know German has a whole series of cookbooks that
have sold millions of copies - I am sure they must be good! I have not
tried many of her recipes yet - but unfortunately started with this
cinnamon bagel recipe. I don't know Meilach's bibliography of cookbooks?
Darrell Green who sponsors a sourdough web site, offered his advice to
come up with your own flour/water ratios - which I guess I am somehow
developing. Is there anywhere in a bm cookbook that gives general
baseline flour/water/yeast/sugar/salt starting points for different size
loaves of bread?
I think from what I am finding that a 3 cup flour recipes generally needs
about 1 cup of liquid and a 2 cup flour recipes needs about 3/4 cup of
liquid. The recipes in several of my other favorite bm cookbooks seem to
follow this ratio. Today I will be trying another bagel recipe! In the
rest of my bm cookbooks looking up bagel recipes seem to give these
One cookbook that I really like which incorporates whole grain flours for
the majority of the flour called for is "Smart Bread Machine Recipes" by
Woodward. These recipes seem to turn out right every time I try a new
one with very little or no water/flour adjustments. Of course climate type
and brand of flour and crop of wheat all affect the amount of flour /
liquid you will need in a bread recipe as we all know.
Can't you just develop baseline recipes to which you add seasonings etc.
and use those for everything - bread, rolls, pizza dough, bagels etc.?
Please flood me with your comments!!!!!
ps I would love to hear from people on their favorite ways to grind
fresh flour. I have tried only a Vita-Mix - which seems to work well. I
do get moisture that seems to fall from the dome on the container into
the flour - which is not good. Any helpful hints, or suggestions or
comments from people who have tried other grain mills and can compare it
to the results of a Vita-Mix.