Thursday, November 20, 2008

Just Call Me Martha Jewess: I Made Bagels!!

(First off, I can’t believe that no one else has coined “Martha Jewess!” Well at least as per Google so one else has...)

So, as our move-out-of-Brooklyn date loomed closer, Martello and I anticipated the major bagel withdrawal heading our way (I was more concerned about this than he was; he wanted to load up on Indian, Chinese, and other ethnic foods he feared he’d have to do forego for 12 months). When I first visited Zurich, my bagel-jonesing sister insisted that we take a jaunt to the local Chabad bookstore. Already knowing how mediocre their carb offerings were, she was so desperate that she claimed to enjoy those joyless (how Swiss-German) excuses for buoyant bagels. Flipping ahead to the commencement of her own expat adventures, Trofie Wife quickly realized that even this disappointing luxury would not be available in Arenzano, so when I spotted the bagel recipe, my heart was all aflutter. (Subsequently, earlier this week while in the Voltri grocery store, I did spot what looked like thick-sliced bagel chips in their baked goods section. Regardless, it’s not the right item.)

Most bagel connoisseurs are aware that the secret to great bagels is the water (thus New York City's dominance) and Italy does water right (one of Martello’s guidebooks states that rates of osteoporosis in women are below average here due to the high calcium content in the water, although looking at some of my aged neighbors, I'm not so sure that that fact holds water, so to speak). So we figured we at least had water covered. It was also very easy to assemble the simple, cheap ingredients of yeast, flour, salt, sugar, and extra-virgin olive oil (I’m not sure if that last one is a staple ingredient or just an Italian-Jewish flourish; this cookbook is amazing, Phillips folks!). Baking the bagels was almost like a dance routine: mix, knead, wait; separate, wait; boil, bake. The aroma in the house was a yeasty sensation that warmed the nose and recalled the wonder of seeing piping hot bagels emerge from the kitchens of our favorite bagel joints. But as the baking inched to its end, I was nervous. Would the bagels be an utter disappointment, a waste of flour?

Upon removal from the oven, we noticed that the resulting bread was closer in resemblance to a flagel (the “flat” bagel offered in some savvy shops) rather than the puffy roundness of a full on bagel. But the taste, if I do say myself, was right on. They tasted like bagels! They bled with a soft, yet crunchy excellence! The book’s Italian name for them is ciambelle (which seems to be used to describe any spherical output of dough with a hole through it; although it was too staticy to watch the full episode of The Simpsons that I glimpsed on one of our TV channels, I’m sure that Homer loves his ciambelle). Perhaps if there’s a market for them we’ll open a business: NYCiambelle, anyone? Even if Trofie Wife’s entrepreneurial idea is a bust, I can rest assured that when we wake up on Sundays instead of looking at each other and wistfully saying “Bagel Hole or Terrace?” (over 3,000 miles away) we can now just walk into the kitchen and fire up our own batch! (And yes, observant audience, that is LOX and CREAM CHEESE (real Philadelphia) on that bagel pictured below.)


Baci e gelato,
Martello e Trofie Wife

4 comments:

Keith said...

Now that is a baking feat. As Amy will tell you of all of the traditional Jewish fare, bagels and lox was a clear favorite of mine at family gatherings.

Melanie Ross Levin said...

I don't remember my dad using olive oil. I am pretty sure that's an italian thing. I must say...I am very proud of you. Now all you need is a good pickle.

Trofie Wife said...

Grazie! We ran out, so I need to make more...

I'll have to see what the cookbook says about pickling...

Lauren S-D said...

Very impressive! I've been contemplating making bagels for, well, 5 years. I'm inspired. And I'm excited to hear about your next cooking adventures.