Monday, May 27, 2013

Brilliant Brunch: Mini Homemade Bagels

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cookthebooksIt's time for another edition of Cook the Books!  This month we read The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe (much more my speed)!  Grace, the wonderful woman who stars in this story, is a resilient and strong favorite kind!  When her husband, Pete, gets the assignment to move to Macau, Grace comes along but soon finds herself in a deep depression.  It turns out that because of medical issues, she cannot have any children and will most likely never be a mom, something she always wanted for herself but also (and possibly more) for Pete.  Isn't that always the way?  When someone does something to John, I feel about 100 times madder at them than I would have if they had treated me that way.  Some kind of partner-protective instinct. 
Anyway, Grace finally decides to open up a cafe named after her mother, Lillian.  Lillian's cafe is where the majority of the story takes place.  The book has a number of strong women from the oldest Yok Laun to her granddaughter Gigi to Grace's co-worker Rilla.  I'm not going to give you more details because if you ever needed an uplifting strong female book, you should read this one.  My real favorite though was Marjory who looks like a model but married an average joe.  You can feel her love for him and it reminds me of my love for John.  I fell in love with John's heart and it's still what draws me to him regardless of what is happening in our lives.

From Grace's workers to the new friends she meets through the cafe and even to her crush Leon - a Frenchman who takes Grace under his wing and teaches her how to make stunning macarons, Grace's life becomes more and more fulfilled as Pete's life slowly erodes along with his construction project, the point of their move to Macau in the beginning of the novel.  But in the end, the two of them find each other again.  And just like many long-lasting couples, you feel like their love is stronger and clearer because of it.

Each chapter is named after a macaron and some of them sound completely delicious.  And yes, I KNOW the story is just calling out for readers to make a macaron of their own.  But you see, it's very ill-timing.  John and I are gearing up for our first trip ever, yes ever, to Europe this fall and while we're there, I am planning on taking a cooking class in Paris.  Learning macarons and croissants in Paris is how I envision making both of these delectable delights for the first time.  I loved the book, don't get me wrong.  But not even Hannah's stunning writing can convince me to forgo that experience that I've so been looking forward to (and paid dearly for, I might add).

Instead, I began to think of something comforting I could make with tea that draws on my own life.  That's when I got to bagels.  You see, bagels were great breakfast treats when we were growing up.  And we were SPOILED with the best bagels in the world living in New York.  When I moved to Boston, I was shocked at what passed for bagels.  Okay, sure, I ate them but I craved a good New York bagel.  Now that we're in New York, it's about time to make this tasty treat for myself.  Pull up a chair next to your best friends, gab and gossip, and have a bagel.  It's good for your soul.  And although it isn't sweet like a macaron, I hope you indulge in them with others...friends' sweetness will be all you need.
Mini Homemade Bagels (adapted from Serious Eats)
Serves:  12 (12 mini bagels)
3 1/2 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)
3 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 cups hot water
1 egg
1 teaspoon water
Choice of toppings:  Sesame Seeds, Chopped Onion, Chopped Garlic, Poppy Seeds, Kosher Salt, etc.

In a food processor, combine flour, yest, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1 tablespoon salt for about 30 seconds.  Slowly pour in the hot water and then let the food processor run another 30 seconds, until a shiny dough ball forms.  Transfer the dough ball into an oiled bowl, turning once so all sides are oiled.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour. 

Divide the dough into 12 pieces and slowly, one at a time form the dough into a circle.  Carefully with your fingers, press a hole through the dough and shape the bagel.  Continue with each piece of dough until all the bagels are formed.  Place onto a greased cookie sheet, covered with a warm cloth and let rise another hour. 

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Also, bring 24 cups (2 quarts) of water and remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar to a boil.  In a small bowl, combine egg and water.  Working with the bagels, no more than 3 at a time, drop the bagels into the boiling water.  They will sink and then float to the top.  Cook each for about 60 seconds and then remove with a slotted spoon. 

Immediately, brush the egg wash over the tops of the bagels and season with the toppings you desire.  Place back onto the greased cookie sheet.  When all the bagels are finished, bake for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.  Serve immediately or store in an airtight container up to 3 days.  They are best the first day though.

Until the next time my oven is on...


  1. Your bagels look so good, I am tempted to try making them myself. I like the idea of mini ones, as usually a whole bagel is a bit too filling. Perfect with a pot of tea.

    1. Thank you Claudia :) I agree whole bagels are filling. Plus, mini bagels are just so cute!

  2. That is so exciting about your upcoming trip and what fun to learn to make those treats in Paris! Your mini-bagels look wonderful and are perfect to enjoy for brunch or with a cup of tea. I want to grab some cream cheese, smoked salmon & capers and dig right in. ;-) It's hard to find good bagels where I am too.

    Glad you enjoyed the book and thanks for joining in this round of CTB!

    1. Thank you Deb! I just love Cook the Books! A great choice, as always, I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

  3. It is very difficult to find real NY bagels anywhere else. I miss them too! Will have to try these, they look so good. Plus they are so adorable, and they are the perfect size for a snack!

    1. Thanks Kristin - you should have your dessert chef help you with them ;) I think he'd love it!

  4. I lived on bagels growing up! I love that you made your own and minis to boot! So cute! So jealous of your trip - you're going to have the best time!

    1. Who didn't live on bagels growing up, right?! OMG I loved them! I'm so excited, I want summer to be over just so we can go...

  5. What a delightful post and your mini-bagels are just the perfect addition to our Color of Tea virtual spread. Glad you enjoyed the book. Deb, Heather, Simona and I are working out what our next batch of foodie book picks will be, and I think you will enjoy them too, so look for an upcoming post soon with our newest selections.

    1. Thanks Rachel - I can't wait :) I have to do so much actual thinking at work that when I get home, that is the last thing I want to do! Novels are perfect for me ;)

  6. Great review and truly inspired recipe. I just read Rachel's comment so I can't wait to see what is coming up too! :)

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Welcome! I'm Dani (aka the Growing Foodie), just a girl balancing her career and passion for all things edible in NYC. I hope you'll join me in my adventures in life, through food. (Click for More)
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