April 24, 2010

Homemade Pizza

Tim and I both love pizza. It is our go-to easy dinner idea. Whether it is hand tossed, thin crust, or a calzone, we love it.

I had looked for a long time and had tried several other recipes (with varying degrees of failure), before finding this one. It has a nice flavor and rises nicely. The amount of flour can vary significantly with each batch. Each time that I have made it, I have used a different amount of flour; from 2 to 2 ½ cups.

Basic Pizza Dough
3/4 C. Warm Water or Flat Beer (105-115°F)
4 tsp. Sugar
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Active Dry Yeast
2 to 2 1/4 C. Bread Flour

Heat water in microwave until temperature reaches 105-115°F. (If the water is too hot, it will kill the yeast). Sprinkle the yeast onto the surface of the water and stir in until dissolved. Add sugar and stir in a teaspoon of flour; set aside for 5 minutes. The mixture should begin to bubble. If the mixture doesn't bubble, either the yeast is too old or the temperature of the water was too hot and you should start over again with fresh yeast or cooler water.

After the yeast begins to bubble, add it to the remaining ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer (or other large bowl). Knead on low speed for 15 minutes or turn out onto a clean work surface which has been dusted lightly with flour and knead for the same amount of time.

The dough should feel slightly sticky when you are done kneading, but it shouldn't cling to your hands. If it does, knead in a few dustings of flour. If the dough doesn't feel slightly sticky, there's not enough moisture; knead in a few drops of water.

Tip: To hydrate the dough just a little, soak a paper towel with water and wrap it lightly over the dough ball and leave it to rest for 5 minutes, then knead the extra moisture into the dough.

Exact measurements for the quantities of flour and water are never accurate since one batch of flour will absorb more or less water than another based upon storage and harvesting methods, age of flour and the type of wheat, the way in which the flour is milled, the weather, and a number of other conditions. Each time the dough is prepared is unique, but experience will teach you the proper consistency.

When the dough is smooth and elastic it is ready to begin the rising phase.

Place a few drops of olive oil at the bottom of a large heavy bowl. Place the rounded dough ball in the bowl and turn to coat the mass lightly with oil; this prevents the dough from forming a crust which would keep it from rising fully. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean, damp cotton towel and place in a warm place, free from draft. (Inside an oven, on top of a refrigerator or hot water heater are good spots if they are draft-free).

Allow the dough to rise, undisturbed until it has nearly doubled in bulk. This can take 60-90 minutes, depending on the yeast and room temperature.

At this point, the dough may be punched down (deflated - the air bubbles pressed out) and stretched to form a pizza crust and used immediately (or it may be sealed tightly in freezer bags and frozen for later use; defrost in microwave for 5-7 minutes or allow to sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours before using).

When ready to bake, set the baking rack in the oven to the lower or lower-middle rack and set the oven temperature to 475°F. Allow oven to preheat for at least 20 minutes. If available, a pizza stone may be set in the oven for a crisper crust.

While the oven preheats, stretch (don't roll) the dough out to a 14 inch diameter circle (or much wider if you prefer even thinner pizza crusts). The dough may be pressed out on a work surface and transferred to an ungreased pan (sprinkle a little cornmeal or semolina flour into the pan to prevent sticking, or spray lightly with olive oil spray). Another method is to press the dough directly into the pan. Or if you're feeling adventurous, stretch the dough out by holding it over the backs of two upheld hands, turning and allowing the dough's weight and gravity to stretch it out (they use a variation of this method in pizza shops to make the famous "hand stretched" dough).

Top with preferred toppings, such as sliced fresh peppers, mushrooms, onions, pepperoni, anchovies, cooked Italian sausage, etc. Sprinkle with a few hot red pepper flakes (according to taste) and salt and pepper. Feel free to experiment with toppings of your choice, varying the quantity and type of sauce or cheese. You may also brush the crust with garlic butter to add some additional flavor.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown.


Irish Car Bomb Cake

In keeping with the Irish theme of my Dad’s birthday dinner, I had to make this cake. It is amazingly rich and moist and I want the buttercream on everything that I eat from now on.

Although I could not taste the Guinness in the cake, it really brought out the flavor of the chocolate. I happen to like Bailey’s, so I used a heavy hand for the frosting, but this can be adjusted to taste. The below recipe makes just enough icing to frost the two cakes, so if you would like to add decorative piping, you will want to increase the ingredients.

 Irish Car Bomb Cake


For the Guinness Chocolate Cake:
1 C. Stout (Guinness)
1 C. Unsalted Butter
¾ C. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 C. All-Purpose Flour
2 C. Sugar
1½ tsp. Baking Soda
¾ tsp. Salt
2 Large Eggs
2/3 C. Sour Cream

For the Ganache Filling:
8 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate, Finely Chopped
2/3 C. Heavy Cream
2 Tbsp. Butter, at Room Temperature
2 tsp. Bailey’s Irish cream or Irish whiskey

For the Bailey’s Buttercream Frosting:
½ C. Unsalted Butter, at Room Temperature
3-4 C. Confectioners’ Sugar, Sifted
4-8 Tbsp. Bailey’s Irish Cream

To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper and grease and flour parchment paper.

Combine the stout and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the eggs and sour cream to blend. Add the stout-butter mixture and beat just to combine. Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed just until incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, approximately 20 - 25 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Once the cakes have completely cooled, wrap in plastic and place the cake layers in the freezer for at least an hour. (This is done to make filling and frosting the cakes easier.)

To make the ganache filling, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until simmering, then pour it over the chocolate. Let sit for one minute and then whisk until smooth. If the chocolate is not completely melted, place the bowl over a double boiler or give it a very short burst in the microwave (15-20 seconds). Add the butter and Bailey’s/whiskey and stir until combined.

Set aside to let the ganache cool until it is thick enough to be spread (you can use the refrigerator to speed the cooling process, but be sure to stir every 10 minutes or so to ensure even cooling). Once the ganache has reached the correct consistency, spread it over the bottom cake layer. Top the ganache with the top cake layer.

To make the frosting, place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or use a hand mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Gradually add the powdered sugar until it is all incorporated. Mix in the Bailey’s until smooth. Add more if necessary until the frosting has reached a good consistency for piping or spreading. Frost the cake as desired.

Source: adapted from Annie’s Eats

Shepherd's Pie

My parents stayed with us on their way to Dallas. Since we would not be seeing my dad on his birthday, we decided to celebrate it that night. I decided to make one of the few Irish foods that I will actually eat.

This recipe is an amalgamation of several that I have found in various cookbooks and websites. The biggest changes that I have made are to use beef instead of lamb and to include Guinness.

Shepherd’s Pie

3 Tbsp. Canola Oil
2 lbs. Ground Beef
Salt and Pepper
1 Medium Onion, Chopped
4 Carrots, Peeled and Diced
2 Tbsp. Parsley
1 tsp. Thyme
1 C. Guinness (or other Stout)
2 C. Chicken or Beef Stock
3 Tbsp. Flour

2 lbs. Potatoes, Peeled and Cut into 1-inch pieces
½ C. Milk
2 Tbsp. Butter
½ C. Cheddar Cheese, Grated

1. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the beef and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until browned (does not have to be fully cooked at this point). Drain the meat and season with salt and pepper.

I used baby carrots for this dish. Just make sure that there is approximately the same amount of carrots and onions.
2. Stir in the onion, carrots, parsley, and thyme, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 8 minutes, or until vegetables are soft. Add the broth and stout. Bring to a boil, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the flour, reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the sauce is thickened. Season again with salt and pepper.

3. Preheat oven to 425°F.

4. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 12 to 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain and mash. Add the milk and butter and stir until smooth.

5. Transfer the stew to a large casserole dish or 4 individual ovenproof casserole dishes. Spread the mashed potatoes over the meat mixture and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the mixture is hot. Preheat the broiler for just a few minutes and sprinkle the potatoes with the grated cheese, if using. Place the pie under the preheated broiler, 4 inches from the heat source, and broil for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the potatoes are lightly browned and the cheese is bubbling.

April 17, 2010

Orange Cream Cookies

As soon as I saw these cookies, I had to make them. They smell and taste exactly like a Creamsicle.

The original recipe calls for a pouch of Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix, but I used the sugar cookie recipe that I used for the Easter Egg Stained Glass Sugar Cookies.

Orange Cream Cookies
3/4 C. Butter, Softened
1 C. Sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp. Orange Extract
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2-1/2 C. All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
5 Drops Yellow Food Color
2 Drops Red Food Color
1-1/2 C. White Vanilla Baking Chips

Heat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs, orange extract, and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in food coloring. Stir in baking chips.

On ungreased cookie sheets, drop dough with 1 1/2 tablespoon-size cookie scoop or by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart.

Bake 9 to 10 minutes or just until dough is set (do not overbake). Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely.

Adapted from: Betty Crocker Christmas Cookies, 2009

Glazed Toffee Bonbons

This is another recipe from one of my Christmas cookie books. I am a sucker for anything with toffee and the glaze is amazing. Tim and I both ate way too much of the leftovers.

The only real change that I made was to substitute peanut butter chips for white vanilla baking chips. This was no commentary on the original recipe; it was simply that I did not have vanilla chips.

 Glazed Toffee Bonbons

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 bars (1.4 oz. each) chocolate covered English toffee candy, finely chopped

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2-3 tablespoons milk
1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup peanut butter chips

Heat the oven to 325°F. In a large bowl, beat 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, the vanilla and the egg with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. On low speed, beat in the flour, baking soda and salt. Stir chopped candy into the dough. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. On ungreased cookie sheets, place balls 1 inch apart.

Bake 11 to 14 minutes or until edges start to brown and tops of cookies feel set when tapped. Place cooling racks on waxed paper. Immediately remove cookies from cookie sheets to cooling racks.

Meanwhile, in a 1-quart saucepan, heat 1/4 cup butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of the milk over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until mixture just comes to a boil and sugar is dissolved. Stir in powdered sugar; beat with a wire whisk if necessary to remove lumps. Immediately dip tops of cookies into glaze or spread on top of cookies. (Cookies don't need to be completely cooled, just firm and set.) Place on rack; let stand about 10 minutes until glaze is set. If glaze starts to set in saucepan, reheat over medium-low heat and beat with a wire whisk.

Place chocolate chips and peanut butter chips in separate ziploc bags. Microwave each on high for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, squishing the bags every 30 seconds until melted and smooth.

Then cut off the corner and drizzle over cookies. Refrigerate 20 minutes to set quickly.

Adapted from: Betty Crocker Christmas Cookies, 2009

Chocolate Truffles

Every time that I need/want to make a delicious treat, Tim and I have the following conversation:

What should I make?
Something delicious.
Well that’s not vague. Could you be a bit more specific?
Chocolate chip cookies.
How about something a bit more creative?
Mint truffles.
Those are the only things you ever suggest.
I knows what I like!

I have always loved making truffles, because they always look so fancy and complicated, when they are actually extremely easy to make. They are also a great creative outlet, since you can make almost any flavor, with numerous coatings and decorations.

I had recently acquired my first candy molds, so I decided to use those for these truffles. I did one batch flavored with mint chocolate Bailey’s Irish Crème coated with semisweet chocolate and one batch with raspberry extract coated with dark chocolate.  

The dark chocolate raspberry truffles. These seemed to be a hit. My dad ate not only his but my brother's as well.
 Chocolate Truffles

1 Bag (12 oz) Semisweet Chocolate Chips (2 cups, separated)
2 Tbsp Butter or Margarine
1/4 C. Whipping Cream
2 Tbsp. Liqueur/Flavoring (almond, cherry, coffee, hazelnut, Irish cream, orange, raspberry, etc.), if desired

In 2-quart saucepan, melt 1 cup of the chocolate chips over low heat, stirring constantly; remove from heat. Stir in butter. Stir in whipping cream and flavoring. Refrigerate 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently, just until thick enough to hold a shape.

Meanwhile, temper the remaining 1 cup of chocolate. In order for melted chocolate to harden properly (with a glossy shiny finish), it needs to be tempered. I found a great article about tempering chocolate here. Since I do not have a marble slab (and I envision having to burn down the kitchen to clean up the mess that it would create), I use the “seed” method. Melt ¾ cup of the chips in a double boiler or microwave until melted and over 105° on a candy thermometer. Stir in the remaining chips until the temperature enters the tempering range (88°-90° for dark chocolate and 86°-88° for milk chocolate).

Using a candy mold:

Fill each mold 1/3 to 1/2 full with melted chocolate. Using a decorator brush (or one of the smaller paintbrushes from the combo pack that I got at Hobby Lobby) paint up the sides of the molds, making sure that there are no thin spots where light can be seen through. Put the molds in the refrigerator until set, keeping the remaining chocolate’s temperature within the tempering range.

Once the chocolate has set and the truffle mixture has thickened enough to hold shape, spoon the filling into the molds, pressing down to remove any air and to fill the cavity fully. Put the molds into the refrigerator for a few minutes to set.

Seal the shell by covering the filling completely with melted chocolate to the top edge. Lightly tap the molds to break up any air bubbles. Put the molds into the refrigerator or freezer until completely set.

Once set, remove the truffles from the molds. Store in refrigerator.

The mint chocolate irish creme truffles
Other Coating:

Once the truffle mixture has thickened enough to hold shape, drop it by teaspoonfuls onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Shape into balls. If rolling in nuts, cocoa, or mini chocolate chips, do so immediately. Otherwise, freeze for 30 minutes. Dip firm truffles into tempered chocolate one at a time. Shake off excess chocolate and return to the cookie sheet. Immediately sprinkle with any decoration desired. Refrigerate until coating is set. Store in refrigerator.

Adapted from: Betty Crocker Christmas Cookies, 2008

Easter Egg Stained Glass Sugar Cookies

Years ago, during one of my Christmas cookie marathons, I made eggnog angel cookies that had pretty “stained glass” hearts. I though that this technique would be neat in an Easter egg cookie as well.

I love this icing as well. The corn syrup creates a wonderful smooth, shiny finish.

Easter Egg Stained Glass Sugar Cookies

3/4 C. Butter, Softened
1 C. Sugar
2 Eggs
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2-1/2 C. All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
½ C. Assorted Hard Candies (Lifesavers)

Poured Icing:
1 C. Powdered Sugar
2 tsp. Milk
2 tsp. Light Corn Syrup
Misc. Food Coloring (Optional)

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).

A trick that I use for refrigerating cookie dough is to put the dough in a ziploc bag, already partially flattened. This allows for easy storage and reduces some of the work of flattening cold dough later. 
Preheat oven to 400°. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Wax paper burns at a lower temperature, so it is not recommended for these cookies.

I would suggest using name brand candy. I used generic and a lot of the coloring ran into the cookie and left a clear candy "window."
Put the hard candies in a thick ziploc bag. Using a rolling pin or hammer, crush the candies.

Using a second, smaller cookie cutter, cut a shape out of the cookie. Fill this cavity (to heaping) with the crushed candies, as the candies will reduce as the cookies bake.

Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

Meanwhile, mix sugar and milk thoroughly. Add the corn syrup and mix well. Tint as needed with food coloring. Decorate the cooled cookies as desired.

Rocky Road Cookies

I am a sucker for the “cookie books” that show up in the grocery stores around Christmas, and get a lot of ideas from them. This recipe came from this season’s Betty Crocker book.

The original recipe used a pouch of double chocolate chunk cookie mix as the base. While I am a fan of shortcuts, I figured cheating that much would defeat the purpose of this new adventure that I am undertaking, so I replaced it with the classic toll house cookie recipe and cocoa. I also think that the additional pecans really add to the presentation.

Rocky Road Cookies

2 ¼ C. Flour
½ c. Cocoa Powder
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
1 C. Butter, Softened
¾ C. Sugar
¾ C. Firmly Packed Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 Eggs
2/3 C. Chopped Pecans
12 Large Marshmallows Cut in Half

1 C. Semisweet Chocolate Chips
1/3 C. Whipping Cream
1 tsp. Butter or Margarine, Softened
1 tsp. Vanilla
½ C. Powdered Sugar
1 C. Pecans

Preheat oven to 350°. In a small bowl, sift flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a large mixer bowl, combine butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla, beating until creamy. Beat in eggs. Gradually add the flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls, 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 7 minutes. Remove from oven; immediately press marshmallow half lightly, cut side down, on top of cookie. Bake 1 to 2 minutes longer or just until marshmallows begin to soften. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in 1-quart non-stick saucepan, melt chocolate chips over low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth. Remove from heat. Add whipping cream, butter, and vanilla; blend well. Stir in powdered sugar until smooth.

Spread frosting over each cooled cookie, covering the marshmallow. Place a whole pecan on the top. Let stand until frosting is set.

Adapted from: Betty Crocker Christmas Cookies, 2009

April 16, 2010

Andes Mint Fudge

Tim and I both love mint chocolate, so I am often making delicious minty treats. This has also resulted in me having five bags of Andes baking chips in my pantry. Wanting to make space and condense my supplies, I decided to make some fudge.

I will do one thing differently next time I make this. My fudge set a little on the soft side, and should have included more chocolate chips to harden it a bit. I have indicated this change in the version below.

Andes Mint Fudge

1 Can (14 oz) Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 Bag (10 oz) Andes Crème de Menthe Baking Chips
¾ C. Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 tsp. Vanilla

1. Line bottom and sides of a 8-inch square pan with foil, leaving 1 inch foil overhanging on 2 opposite sides of the pan. Grease foil with butter.

2. In 2-quartsaucepan, heat milk, baking chips, and chocolate chips over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat,

3. Quickly stir in vanilla. Spread in pan. Refrigerate about 2 hours, or until firm. Using the foil overhangs, lift the fudge out of the pan. Cut into 1-inch squares. Store in refrigerator.


I have always wanted to make bagels, but have been a little afraid to attempt them. Yeast has not always been my friend and all the additional steps are a bit intimidating.

While my bagels were not the prettiest (I think that my dough was a bit too dry), they tasted pretty darn good, and were rather simple to make.


Yield: 12 large or 24 mini bagels


For the sponge:
1 teaspoon (.11 ounce) instant yeast
4 cups (18 ounces) unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
2 ½ cups (20 ounces) water, at room temperature

For the dough:
½ teaspoon (.055 ounces) instant yeast
3 ¾ cups (17 ounces) unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
2 ¾ teaspoons (.7 ounce) salt
2 teaspoons (.33 ounce) malt powder OR 1 tablespoon (.5 ounce) dark or light malt syrup, honey, or brown sugar

To finish:
1 tablespoon baking soda
cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting
sesame seeds, poppy seeds, kosher salt, rehydrated dried minced garlic or onions, or chopped fresh onions that have been tossed in oil (optional)

1. To make the sponge, stir the yeast into the flour in a 4-quart mixing bowl. Add the water, whisking or stirring only until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (like pancake batter). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly. It should swell to nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the counter top.

2. To make the dough, in the same mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer), add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir. Then add 3 cups of the flour and all of the salt and malt. Stir (or mix on low speed with the dough hook) until the ingredients form a ball, slowly working in the remaining ¾ cup flour to stiffen the dough.

3. Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for at least 10 minutes (or for 6 minutes by machine). The dough should be firm, stiffer than French bread dough, but still pliable and smooth. There should be no raw flour – all the ingredients should be hydrated.

The windowpane test: Start by pulling off a piece of dough about the size of a walnut. Using both hands, pull the dough between your hands. The idea is to tease the dough into a sheet or film. From time to time, rotate the dough 90 degrees so you will be pulling on different sides. As you pull on the dough, it should form a sheet, or film, that is thin enough that light can pass through it.
The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 to 81 degrees F. If the dough seems dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading. If the dough seems tacky or sticky, add more flour to achiever the stiffness required. The kneaded dough should feels satiny and pliable but not be tacky.

4. Immediately divide the dough into twelve, 4 ½ ounce pieces for standard bagels, or smaller if desired. Form the pieces into rolls.

5. Cover the rolls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for approximately 20 minutes.

6. Line two sheet pans with baking parchment and mist lightly with spray oil. Proceed with shaping the bagels by pushing a hole through the center and stretching out the hole to 2 ½ inches in diameter.

7. Place each of the shaped pieces 2 inches apart on the pan. Mist the bagels very lightly with the spray oil and slip each pan into a food-grade plastic bag, or cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the pans sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

8. Check to see if the bagels are ready to be retarded in the refrigerator by using the “float test”. Fill a small bowl with cool or room-temperature water. The bagels are ready to be retarded when they float within 10 seconds of being dropped into the water. Take one bagel and test it. If it floats, immediately return the tester bagel to the pan, pat it dry, cover the pan, and place it in the refrigerator overnight (it can stay in the refrigerator for up to 2 days). If the bagel does not float, return it to the pan and continue to proof the dough at room temperature, checking back every 10 to 20 minutes or so until a tester floats. The time needed to accomplish the float will vary, depending on the ambient temperature and the stiffness of the dough.

9. The following day (or when you are ready to bake the bagels), preheat the oven to 500° F with the two racks set in the middle of the oven. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (the wider the pot the better), and add the baking soda. Have a slotted spoon or skimmer nearby.

10. Remove the bagels from the refrigerator and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many comfortably fit (they should float within 10 seconds). After 1 minute flip them over and boil another minute. If you like very chewy bagels, you can extend the boiling to 2 minutes per side. While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the same parchment-line sheet pans with cornmeal or semolina flour. If you want to top the bagels, do so as soon as they come out of the water. You can use any of the suggestions in the ingredients list or a combination.

11. When all the bagels have been boiled, place the pans on the 2 middle shelves in the oven. Bake for approximately 5 minutes, then rotate the pans, switching shelves and giving the pans a 180-degree rotation. (If you are baking only 1 pan, keep it on the center shelf but still rotate 180 degrees.) After the rotation, lower the oven setting to 450° F and continue baking for about 5 minutes, or until the bagels turn light golden brown. You may bake them darker if you prefer.

12. Remove the pans from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving.

Source: The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart, 10 Speed Press, 2001.