Monday, September 22, 2014

Pop-Up more please...

So yeah, I haven't created many official reviews on my blog yet; but, I have tried many bagels in this city.  With that said, there are not very many places to get a freshly baked bagel; there are probably around 5 bakeries that exist in this city where you can purchase a fresh bagel on a daily basis.  All this is the reason I started this blog.  With that said, I must say, with confidence, that Philly Style Bagels are the best bagels I have tasted to-date in Philadelphia.

I bought 6, but we shared one in the car on the way home.

I decided to go for my classic egg sandwich.

Finished bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich on an everything bagel.

Finished bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich.
 Just to put it simply, "Philly Style Bagels are crunchy on the outside, yet soft on the inside with an unparalleled malty sweetness. " A quote taken directly from their website.
Here is how I would rate the Philly Style Bagels.

The Look - { 4 } They definitely had the golden brown color, obviously hand rolled, and no mistaking that these were going to be good.

The Crust -  { 5 }
The crispy crust just confirmed the fact that these bagels were properly boiled.  They use a mix of water and beer to give the crust the special color, texture, and flavor.

Inside Texture and Taste - { 5 }
Nice and chewy.  These bagels have a nice subtly sweet flavor.

So, their overall rating would be a 4.67 = very good (very close to doesn't get much better).  The only negative feedback would be that you can only get these bagels during one of their special pop-up events.

Till next time,


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

So many recipes, so little flour

There are so many NY Style bagel recipes out there; its hard to know which one to follow.  Of course they all rave about being the most authentic tasting, bla, bla, bla.  I decided to try and follow the Peter Reinhart recipe.  Early into making the dough I wasn't feeling confident in how it was taking shape.  It was soft and supple, yet seemed to tear easily.  I did need to add a little over a tablespoon of extra water.  And, because it didn't seem to be smooth enough, I decided I should kneed the dough longer than the recommended 3 minutes after it sat for 5 minutes.  Another note on using this recipe would be that I didn't want to shape the bagels before putting them in the refrigerator; so, I decided to let the dough sit overnight in an oiled bowl covered in plastic wrap and then covered with a dish towel.  I then formed the bagels the next day, around an hour before boiling them.  I also had the oven heat up the entire hour the bagels sat, a note I've read in several recipes. 

Dough right after I added the liquid ingredients to the flour.

I shaped the dough into a ball before letting it rest for 5 min.

Final dough placed in an oiled bowl.

I evenly distributed the dough and formed them into balls.

I used the thumb method to shape the dough into bagels.
 At this point I was confident the bagels were not going to come out right.  The dough was soft and pliable; yet I couldn't get the dough to evenly distribute and take proper shape.  If anyone knows why the dough wouldn't meld into itself- please let me know.
Final product.

I have to admit that I'm embarrased at how deflated and too doughy these turned out.

I definitely will be trying another recipe; this one found on is an adaptation of Peter Reinhart's.  From the pictures she posted the bagels look like they have an awesome crunch to them .  So again, once I try out this recipe I'll let you all know how they turned out.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Life happens...

Just in case anyone actually came back to my blog to see how my last batch of bagels turned out... I did not get a chance to make them yet.  With that said, as soon as I do, I will be sure to post pictures and details of my experience.
I did happen to make a beautiful wreath for the fall; which I had planned to do with a close friend of mine.
Here's how it came out and what it looks like on my front door.  But, because I live in Port Richmond and I am afraid that it will be either stolen or vandalized, I will be keeping it on the inside of my door.

Outside View
Inside View

Till next time,


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What's the secret ingredient?

I've been looking into bagel recipes to help me create a great tasting bagel.  It seems like malt syrup is an ingredient that shouldn't be substituted.  But, what exactly is the difference between malt syrup, malted barley, malt powder?  And, why is it so important in the recipe?  The second secret ingredient; time.

Barley Malt Syrup is the result of malting barley, usually kiln roasted so the water is extracted, then slowly reduced to a thick, rich syrup. It's an ancient process that uses only the grain's enzymes created in the spouting process, and the knowledge and care of artisan maltsters. The end result is that it has half the sweetness of refined sugar.  

Why is Malt so important?  After much reading, it's pretty simple.  It gives the bagels the warm honey color on the outside and the subtly sweet and unique taste that is a bagel.

Besides using the malt, I think the next most important part of producing the perfect bagel, is the length of time used for fermentation/proofing/rising or allowing the dough to rest.  This may be the ultimate reason why the common bagel from the corner deli or grocery store just doesn't quite taste right.  My guess would be that the bakeries producing the heavy, doughy, tasteless bagels today are not allowing their dough to mature long enough.
Bagels originated in the U.S. by Jewish Polish immigrants in New York.  It was thought that the bagel possibly became popular in the Jewish community because traditionally the dough rests for 12 hours before baking, making it a popular choice for Jews observing the Sabbath -- they could let it rise during the time that work was forbidden, and then quickly prepare the bread once the Sabbath was over.

It seems like every recipe I've found does vary when it comes to making a sponge, and/or letting the dough rise.  Some recipes say to let the sponge sit for 2 hours, then shape the dough into bagels and have them rest overnight in the fridge.  My first attempt was to have the sponge rest overnight in the fridge.  So, I might try the opposite this time.  I will probably follow this recipe by Peter Reinhart; or an adaptation of it.  I will have another test run of bagel making starting tonight and post tomorrow (since it is a two day process) how things worked out.   

Till then.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Are bagels a weekend thing?

Sorry, for this overdue post.  My excuses are that I picked up a few extra shifts at work and being at home with a 16 month old sometimes makes it close to impossible to concentrate long enough, let alone type with out interruptions every other minute.  Not, to say that I haven't been busy cooking and baking the last week and 1/2.  I caught a cooking bug this past Sunday and cooked and baked lots!  The Cinnamon Raisin French Toast,  Whiskey Lemon Bars and the two Potato Pizza's with a homemade rosemary oil were probably the stand-out items.  Of course, unlike a every other blogger, I took no pictures.  But, if you go to the links from where I found the recipes, my stuff came out pretty close looking. 

Back to the subject of Bagels:  The 2200 block of Washington Ave. would not be the first place I would think of to find fresh baked goodies.  If you go down that far on Washington you'll pass lots of construction supply stores and lots of industrial type buildings.  But, low and behold, Kermit's Bake Shoppe popped up in 2013.  We (my husband and I) decided to make the trek to Kermit's last Saturday morning to check out their bagels (which are only available on weekends).

Side note: While searching for bagel joints, it seems like a few of them, including those who made the Zagat list [which I talked about in a past post] are only available on weekends.  Well, I guess to clarify, the restaurants/places to get a high quality bagel are only serving them on weekends.  I found this to be a little disappointing especially because bagels, in my opinion, are not necessarily something I wait to have on the weekend.  I guess for those who are watching their carbs, it is a treat not to be consumed on the regular.  But, bagels are such a convenient food to prepare [of course after they are baked] that it seems more likely to consume during the week for a quick breakfast.  I guess this lends itself to the reason why I started this blog; to find places to go for a great bagel.  And hopefully, I will have a pretty good running list, that if I were to get a bagel craving anytime of day, week, etc.  I'll have a place to go to.

Back to my adventure to Kermit's... As I enter with Toddler in hand, I find myself scanning the beautiful cases to take in the assortment of delicious looking treats.  I know I'm there for bagels, but I have to try something else.  I decided on this Key-Lime Tart:
Key-Lime Tart

The tart was quite good; the gooey meringue topping was a nice compliment to the filling and crust.  The center was a little more on the tart side, but still overall a refreshing treat.

The bagels were displayed in a basket on the top of one of the cases.  There weren't very many left, especially for how early we were there.  I believe they open at 8 and we were there probably around 9:30.  I picked out a couple plain, a poppy sead, and an onion.  I saw the cream cheese containers next to them, so I decided to go with the scallion and plain.  It was hard having to wait to get home to try out the product.
Everything was packaged so nicely.

One of the fun parts of eating bagels is that there are so many ways to eat them.  Mixing your favorite type of bagel with different toppings let's even the most unskillful cook feel like they are creating something unique.  From the bagel selection, to toasted or not toasted, to cream cheese or jelly, etc.  The possibilities are endless.  Which gives me an idea for another post.  I'll have to bookmark the idea of fun combination experiments.
Anyway, I actually can't remember the last time I had an onion bagel.  But, I was delightfully surprised when I cut open this one to find little pieces of onion inside the bagel as well as sprinkled on the outside.

My choice du jour was to go with the onion bagel and the scallion cream cheese.  I was also surprised at the green color of the scallion cream cheese.  I tried getting a picture of my finished product, but was having camera problems.  I was also going to just use my phone to take a photo, but I had cream cheese all over my fingers, low blood sugar, no caffine yet and was growing increasingly irritated.  I just wanted to get the picture so I could eat the bagel!  I decided to sacrifice the picture to consume the baked good.  I have to say, the onion on onion, was probably not the best combination choice.  A little overwhelming, however, still tasty.

Here is my Poppy Seed Rating on Kermit's Bagels:

1- The Look- { 3 } The plain bagels had the loveliest sheen and correct color out of the group. 
2- The Crust- { 4 } It was certainly firm and created a nice bite. 
3- Inside Texture and Taste- { 5 }  The interior was airy and not dry.  Again, the onion bits inside the bagel were a special surprise. 

Overall Rating: 4 = Above average

Here is my scale as a reminder:
1 = poor
2 = average
3 = above average
4 = very good
5 = doesn't get much better

So, was it worth the trip on an early Saturday morning to drive out to Kermit's.  Overall, I'd say yes.  But, maybe just stop for coffee on the way.

Till next time,