Life in Boston isn’t shaping up too badly. Two weeks into my new job here, I’m starting to understand the way the stations are run and have begun to get to know my coworkers. On my early days, I don’t even mind getting up at 5:15 so that I can be making bread at the restaurant by 6:45. I’ve started to explore a couple of the surrounding neighborhoods and have already scoped out a couple of restaurants that I’d love to visit. One great thing about living in a city again is the availability and convenience of all kinds of ethnic foods. Dim sum… killer Italian food in the North End… Vietnamese delis… Senegalese food… and Chinatown is right at my doorstep! (Take that, Napa Valley!) I will say that I miss California’s unmatched produce and picking fresh herbs from my own terrace, but I guess you can’t have everything.
While I was packing up my things, I was looking at my giant stack of recipes–everything I’ve made in class since August–and I realized how different it would be to cook at home now that I’ve got some kitchen experience under my belt. There will always be more to learn, but once I decided to start culinary school, I basically ensured that cooking at home would never be the same.
So now that I’m back to Real World Cooking, I’ve been going back to some of my old favorites, like these bagels. When I made this batch, I tied them into knots and sprinkled them with garlic salt to make garlic knots! My only regret was not using a heavier hand on the garlic salt. The cheese accompaniment was a good idea, though.
You’ve gotta love that chewy crumb.
I also thought I would miss the West Coast sourdough, but I nabbed a bit of sourdough starter from work and have begun feeding it for my own personal use. And now I feel completely comfortable tinkering with recipes to make them work for me. When it comes to bread, this means lots of fun percentages and some pretty serious calculations.
I used this basic sourdough recipe twice. The first time, I used the recipe as-is, but I had trouble getting the nice crust that you can only get from a steam-injected oven. I did manage to get them into a nice, round shape…
And the scoring wasn’t too bad, considering I had to use scissors instead of a razorblade, but the crust was a little too soft and the interior a little too dense for my liking.
On the second try, I used the exact same recipe, but I allowed it to proof longer and filled it with raisins and cinnamon-sugar, baking it in a loaf pan instead of free-form.
And voilà, beautiful cinnamon-raisin sourdough.
607 g bread flour
334 g water
15 g salt
2 g instant yeast
243 g sourdough starter
1. Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix on low speed for 2-3 minutes or until all of the ingredients are fully hydrated (no flour chunks!) Increase to medium speed and mix for 3-4 minutes or until the gluten is well-developed: you should be able to pull a nice gluten window, even though the dough will be sticky.
2. Place dough in an oiled bowl, covered, to rise until double in size, about 90 minutes.
3. Divide the dough into two even pieces (each loaf should weigh between 580 and 600 g). Allow to rest, covered, for 10 minutes before shaping the loaves as desired. For round loaves, form a nice, tight ball and allow the loaves to proof, covered, until quite puffy, at least 60 minutes. For loaves, shape the dough into cylinders (filled, if desired) and place in oiled loaf pans to finish proofing.
4. When dough is almost ready, preheat your oven to 400ºF. Bake loaves for 40-50 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. If making loaves, remove from pans immediately. For any shape, allow bread to cool before slicing.