Kat’s surgarless kitchen

Fran (left), Kat (right) and me

I knew i would be very nervous before being on Kat’s Kitchen yesterday, a BBC Radio Sheffield Saturday morning slot, so i spent some time ensuring i was prepared.

  • I made sure Fran from Regather was available to come too to help the conversation flow
  • revised quite a bit about bagel history (didn’t get to talk about that)
  • I made sure i knew the order i was going to do things in (revised this umpteen times!)
  • I made a list, of course, of all the things i had to make sure to bring

To start with, in this list, was sugar. And then i thought , hang on i am trying to go sugarless, what better time to launch this than on the radio?

Taking the sugar out is no big deal: the only thing is to make sure , from a weight perspective, to make the dough stretch as far, we replace about 2/3 of the sugar weight with flour and the rest with water.

But what about the taste? The use of barley malt syrup rather than diastatic malt powder (which is what i have been using when baking in bulk) brings out enough sweetness , so i will be switching back to syrup.

So. It Tower of Bagel is now a no sugar bagelry! (And challary: challah will be with honey in future (or Agar Syrup for vegan challah)

Pizza bagels – live and direct , Friday 15th March

Now is your chance to get your bagel appreciation to another level.

Vegan pizza bagel

St Mars of the Desert , the people behind the best new beers on the Sheffield block, open up the tap room every Friday.

This Friday (15th March), Sheffield beer week, they are opening up for longer.

So to make sure you don’t get hungry while you drink, pizza bagels will be available direct from the bakery starting at 4pm until we sell out.

Just pop next door – or send a runner – we will bring your pizza bagel through.

All bagels are vegan and vegan toppings are available.

Prices and toppings are here

The great sugarless changeover

The recipes i have been using for bagels have sugar. And it seems that bagels are known as a sweet bread. This has prompted two questions for me.

First, what was the sugar content back in the shetl when bagels were sold on street corners stacked on sticks? This is a question about ‘authenticity’ – what is a bagel? Some Montreal bagels you can see on You Tube have eggs, similar You Tube videos about New York bagels contain malt, nether of which i suspect were readily available in Lublin or Krakow or Vilnius.

But food travels and changes. So authenticity – unless you are trying to absolutely replicate the original recipe – for bagels in this case – does not seem pertinent. A bagel is a boiled-then-baked bread with a hole; its constituent parts are the subject of debate maybe even argument.

The second issue is more current. How can we produce food with less sugar and deliver health as well as environmental benefits:

An excess of sweetened foods and beverages can lead to weight gain, bloodsugar problems and an increased risk of heart disease, among other dangerous conditions.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/too-much-sugar

There are also wider environmental benefits:

Sugar cane is usually grown as a monoculture. Production in many countries has moved to marginal areas removing natural rainforests, mangroves and other sensitive environments, Cane sugar has been responsible for reduced wildlife biodiversity, polluted rivers and seas, eroded fertile soils, careless use of pesticides and fertilisers, poor management of irrigation, air pollution from burning cane, and damage to coral reefs such as the Great Barrier Reef. The processing of sugar cane has also been shown to be very polluting, especially in poorer countries.

https://www.sustainweb.org/foodfacts/sweet_and_sour/

So, two issues emerge. Removing the sugar from the bread is simple enough, though i am not sure about its impact on the fermentation process and the final taste and texture. This needs to be discovered.

In addition, baking commercially, the process in the bakery is designed to ensure the bagels are baked in a certain time, that a certain number fit on a tray and have a certain pre-bake weight. This seems to present a problem so that the recipe is adjusted to retain efficiency as well as for the correct water content levels

Wholemeal seeded bagel. No sugar!

Even so, I am going to work towards removing as much sugar as possible from most varieties so that by the end of the year there will be a sugarless set. And we already have one, which has already made a couple of outings to Beanies, though it needs some work.

Onion bagel comes into its own

Halloumi and spinach on an onion bagel with a drizzle of olive oil and finely chopped green chilli

We tend to get stuck with bagel fillings in the traditional many revolving around cream cheese – on its own, or with smoked salmon if you eat fish, and either with dill pickle. These are great but it is good to find something else to try from time to time

Here is a great mix for an onion bagel:

  • Fry up some halloumi (do this quite slowly so that it does not burn but just browns and retains some moisture)
  • Cut your bagel in half and place some raw baby spinach leaves  on the bottom  half of the bagel. (If you prefer, you can steam the spinach first)
  • Drizzle a little olive oil on top of the spinach and sprinkle some finely chopped green chili.
  • Halloumi is quite salty already so salt can be left out if you like and the chilli means black pepper is also not needed. Even so,  add both to make it as you like
  • Place the halloumi on top
  • Eat! Eat! Eat!

Bagel school voucher – the fun xmas gift

Bagel School class of November

Are you wondering what to buy for xmas? Why not give a fun day out at Bagel School?

I am offering vouchers for between £25 and £65

Some of the things previous attendees have said

  • Just want to say many thanks for a great day. Wonderful lunch.
  • Everything really interesting and well organised. I had a really good time.
  • Thank you, great pic to remember a thoroughly enjoyable day!

You can find out a bit more about bagel school here.

If you are interested please email me for a voucher or you can buy a full place directly 

What on earth are pizz-agels?

So, over the past couple of weeks the team at Nether Edge Pizza and me have got together and bakes some bagels in their wood fired oven.

We are planning to do this again, December 8th and December 9th from 8.30-11.30 (or until we are sold

out!) . The menu is available here.

We are committed to sourcing as much as we can from local providers: Birdhouse Teas, Frazers Coffee, cream cheese from Zeds. Spreads from Sheffield Honey and Just Preserves

So what are pizz-agels?

Pizz-agels:

Bagels baked lovingly in a wood-fired pizza oven

Bagel pizza:

A bagel cut open then dressed with tomato sauce and other pizza toppings before being placed back in the oven or under a grill

 

Grain to plate – planting

Last month i was able to announce that Regather together with Friend’s Field, were planting an acre of land with winter wheat.

The hope is to be able to produce some flour from this and from that some locally baked bread – bagels, bialys,  sourdough…whatever! From grain to plate!

The ace was on to be able to plough in the green manure and prepare the land for planting before it would be too cold for the planting.

Great work from Regather and friends to ensure the field was ready, the ploughing went ahead.

Watch this space for the germination pictures!

 

Wood fired bagels

A couple of years ago, in Canada , I saw this: bagels in a deep oven wood fire and had an ambition to start doing this in Sheffield.

Having spoke to Gary, owner of  Nether Edge Pizza Company a couple of weeks ago, we decided to give it a go.

I set about making some bagel boards: should i look for some cedar, or will pine do? What weave of burlap do i need? Well, like lots of these things, you can do all the research you like but it seems to be simply a matter of getting started and seeing what happens.

I chose some pine conveniently stored in my garage and bought some burlap from Whaleys in Bradford that would seem tough enough to deal with the oven.  (Jute role is more for hemming and seems fragile) .

With the boards made i went down to the Abbyedale Road Nether Edge Pizza shop and met an enthusiastic Theo and Somerset. Theo is clearly an expert on the oven and, as i would find out, holds no fear in putting his hands in.

Preparing the boards

Preparing the bagels is no different of course : i had prooved them in the fridge beforehand, a bit shorter than ususal for practical reasons, and they are boiled cooled and then set on the boards, not oven trays.

So then to the key thing: the oven.

Bagels have been flipped off the boards and are face down

What was not clear to me before is that the oven has clear heat gradients – pizzas are placed first at the back and then gradually brought forward, Theo told me. But this flexibility is not possible with bagels. The idea is to place them top down on the boards , flip them after some minutes (how many will depend on the oven) so that the bottoms are on the stone and the tops face up.

The second batch were better

Last night we had the oven too hot and this clearly showed that the for the first batch the crust formed too quickly and left a doughy bread. The second batch were better. Maybe the next batch better still. Watch this space!

Halloween Bagel

The clocks are back and orange colours dominate the sunset, and the forecourts of most supermarkets, big and small as pumpkins and squash abound.

With so many scary and confusing things going on in the world (Israeli killing protesters in Gaza yet again, fanatical right wing shooting of Jews in Pittsburgh, 1 million Muslims detained in camps Northern China) it seems a bit odd to create make belief scariness, but there will be some method in it i am sure.

Red Kuri Squash

Scary or not,  i had a bit of fun making this  Halloween Bagel. The serious ‘foody’ thing is the colours and flavours just blend really well.

Take a small squash, I used a red kuri as pictured but you could also use a small pumpkin, wrap in silver foil and bake on a medium oven for about an hour or until soft.  The aim is to be able to have it cooked but not have the flesh fall apart. (Test by using a baked potato skewer and seeing if it easily goes through the flesh: you want a bit of resistance not an easy slide)

As it nears being cooked slice some halloumi (quite thick) and place on a gentle heat in a fry pan. Turn every so often so it cooks both sides. Don’t be tempted to speed up the cooking as it takes away from the succulence of the cheese.

Take a plain bagel – or any other bagel from the Tower of Bagel range, or one you made at Bagel School – and slice in half.

Take the squash from the oven when ready and slice off the lid and allow to cool so it is easier to handle.  When you can handle the heat scoop out the seeds carefully. (Don’t forget the halloumi! – I only say that because i have and it is so disappointing).

Now with the squash on sitting on its bottom, slice chunks downwards.  Place a bed of rocket on the bottom of the bagel and then place some slices of squash (or pumpkin). Place the halloumi when ready to the sides of these, almost like the act as a barrier to the squash leaking out (hence the thick slices).

Chop a chili pepper of your choice finely and sprinkle to taste with a bit of salt.  Take two more  – red with stalks are best, something like the Dagger Pod maybe – and see if you can insert them by the stalk in to the flesh of the squash.

Get some curved ones and they can be like claws.

Now spread some harissa on the side. And there you have it. Halloween Bagel!

Ingredients:

  • 1 bagel of choice
  • 1 squash or small pumpkin
  • 1 chilli of choice
  • 2 chillis like Dagger Pod
  • Two thick slices of Halloumi
  • Salt and pepper to taste