Fluffy Twister Bagels: Recipe #205

We’ve tried a number of bagel and soft pretzel recipes now, and this one is by far the best! The flavor that comes through with the overnight rising is unbelievable, and boiling them in honey water instead of baking soda makes it taste legit – just like a bakery in Toronto I used to go to. As soon as we finish eating one batch of twister bagels we start making another one! Thanks to Sally for some key refinements to our previous recipes.

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($4 total for 8 twister bagels)

1 tbsp active dry yeast – $0.50
1 tbsp brown sugar – $0.37
1+1/2 cups hottest tap water – free
3 cups white + 1 cup whole wheat flour – $0.64
1 tbsp salt – $0.12
1 tbsp olive oil to coat the rising bowl – $0.10
1/4 cup honey – $0.56
8 cups water – free
Bagel toppings (1 tbsp each sesame seeds and poppy seeds) – $1.40
1 egg, beaten – $0.29

Directions

1. In a small plastic (non-metal) bowl, mix the yeast and brown sugar, then add the hottest tap water. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes to form a foam over the surface. In a separate, larger bowl, mix the flours and salt.

Add the yeast mixture to the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until it comes together. Use your hands to knead it for about 7-10 minutes. Rub the olive oil around the larger bowl, then add the dough ball to it. Cover and let rise in the fridge overnight. It will about double in size.

2. In the morning, take the dough out from the fridge and let it rest at room temperature for 45 minutes before working with it.

Punch the dough down and cut it into 16 equal parts, then roll out each part into a thin rope about 6″ long. Pinch two ropes together at one end and then twist them around each other. After twisting the whole length of the ropes, pinch to join the two ends together in a circle to make a twisted bagel shape. See the pictures below to help you out.

Repeat for all the pieces of dough until you get 8 twisted bagels. Let the bagels rest while you prepare the water bath.

3. Heat the 8 cups water and honey in a large pot until it boils. Turn the heat down to simmering (medium or medium-high) and gently place a few bagels in at a time. They will float to the top. If they don’t, gently loosen them from the bottom of the pot with a spatula. Cook for 1 minute, then flip them over and cook for 1 minute more. 

Brush the boiled twister bagels with the beaten egg, then dip them in a bowl of mixed sesame and poppy seeds if desired. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake at 425F for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for 10 more minutes. They will be a nice deep golden brown. Cool on the baking sheet for about 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Enjoy fresh with a salad or with your favorite sandwich fillings, or store in the freezer for eating later!

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 1 = >3 hours
  • Servings: 3 = lots of leftovers
  • Cost per serving: 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 2 = healthy-ish
  • TOTAL: 15/18

If any of you amazing home chefs tried it, or have other recipes you’d like us to experiment with, please let me know. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Blueberry Buns from a Toronto Jewish Bakery: #143 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

Every time I visit my parents in Toronto, it’s a must to stop by their local Jewish bakery and pick up some fresh blueberry buns. They’re packed with a thick blueberry sauce and not ridiculously sweet. We decided to try making them at home, with good results!

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($5.50 total for 9 buns)

1 tbsp active dry yeast – $0.50
1 tsp sugar – $0.02
1/2 cup hottest tap water – free
3 cups flour – $0.48
1/4 cup sugar – $0.22
1 tsp salt – $0.05
3 tbsp coconut oil – $1.65
2 eggs – $0.58
1/2 tsp vanilla – $0.10
2 cups frozen blueberries – $1.25
1/2 cup brown sugar – $0.13
1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water – $0.10
1/4 tsp salt – $0.02
1 egg, beaten, to brush over buns – $0.28
Sugar to sprinkle on top (optional)

Directions

1. Make the dough: in a small non-metal bowl, dissolve the yeast and 1 tsp sugar in the hot tap water. Let it sit for 5 minutes to bloom and form a thick foam on top. In a large metal bowl, mix the flour, 1/4 cup sugar and salt, then add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture along with the coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla. Mix together well until it forms a ball of dough. Knead briefly and set aside.

2. Make the blueberry filling: in a medium pot, heat the blueberries, brown sugar, dissolved cornstarch, and salt over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then turn the heat down once it boils and stir continuously until it’s nice and thick. Pour onto a plate to cool it off before filling the buns.

3. Assemble and bake: on a floured board, roll out the dough to about 18×18″ square. Cut out squares roughly 5 or 6 inches wide, and put about a tablespoon of blueberry filling in the middle of each square. Pick up the top and bottom sides and pinch them together, then pinch all the way along each edge until the sides are sealed too. For an extra secure seal and a nice pattern, fold the pinched edge over on itself to make a little lip as in the photo. Brush each filled bun with the beaten egg, sprinkle with sugar if you like, and bake at 375F for 16-20 minutes until golden brown on top. Enjoy! Leftovers freeze well too.

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 3 = <1 hour
  • Servings: 3 = lots of leftovers
  • Cost per serving: 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness:  3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 2 = healthy-ish
  • TOTAL: 17

Experiment Outcome: This recipe gets added to our Family Favorites! 🙂

If you tried it, please let me know how it came out for you. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Chocolate Babka: #106 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

Babka takes 2 days to make. If you’ve never tasted it from a good Jewish bakery, it’s a bit like brioche swirled with a rich chocolate filling braided into the dough. Fresh from the oven, it melts in your mouth. Babka works for dessert, breakfast, or snack time. And if you don’t like chocolate, you could make it with cinnamon instead.

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($10 total for 2 babkas)

DOUGH:
4 ¼ cups flour – $0.68
⅓ cup + 1 tbsp sugar – $0.30
1 ½ tsp salt – 0.07
1 tsp vanilla – $0.20
½ cup hottest tap water – free
1 tbsp active dry yeast – $0.50
4 eggs – $1.16
10 tbsp butter – $1.55

FILLING:
½ cup sugar – $0.44
¾ cup whipping cream – $1.12
1 cup chocolate chips – $1.00
8 tbsp butter – $1.24
2 tsp vanilla – $0.40

⅔ cup sugar for syrup – $0.58

Directions

1. Make the dough: In a large bowl, mix the flour, 1/3 cup sugar, salt, and vanilla. In a small, non-metal bowl, mix the yeast, 1 tbsp sugar, and hot water. Let it sit for 5 minutes to form a thick foam on the surface.

Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and add in the eggs too, mixing until the dough comes together into a soft ball. If it’s too sticky, add small amounts of flour until it’s soft but not sticky.

Now comes the messy kneading part: add half the butter and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 3 to 5 minutes. Then add the rest of the butter and knead until the dough is nice and stretchy, about 5 to 7 minutes more. All that butter is great hand moisturizer!

Put the thoroughly incorporated dough in a buttered bowl, cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place about 1 to 2 hours. It may not completely double.

After this rise, punch the dough down, re-cover the bowl with cling wrap and put in the fridge overnight or for 4+ hours.

2. Make the filling: In a medium pot over medium heat, combine the 1/2 cup sugar and whipping cream. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sugar completely dissolves, about 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture into a bowl and stir in chocolate, butter and vanilla until smooth. Let cool to room temperature. 

Make the syrup: In a small pot over medium heat, mix 2/3 cup sugar and 2/3 cup water. Simmer for 2 mins until sugar dissolves, then set aside.

Prepare the dough: Remove from the fridge and divide the dough in half. On a floured board, roll each piece into a 9×17″ rectangle. Spread each half with half the filling.Starting with the long side, roll across the short side into a tight coil. Transfer onto a piece of plastic wrap and freeze for 10 minutes. 

3. Slice the coils in half lengthwise to expose the filling. Twist the halves together into a braid. Place into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper, letting it fold or curl around itself if it’s too long.

Cover with cling wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours (it won’t quite double).

Bake at 350F for 40-50 minutes, until a chopstick goes into the babka and comes out clean. 

As soon as the babkas come out of the oven, use the chopstick to pierce them all over, going all the way to the bottom, then pour the syrup over top, making sure to use half the syrup for each babka.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before serving. Enjoy for dessert, tea time, or breakfast! Leftovers freeze well covered with cling wrap and aluminum foil.

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 1 = >3 hours
  • Servings:  3 = lots of leftovers
  • Cost per person (prices based on Trader Joe’s/Costco): 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 1 = eat rarely
  • TOTAL: 14/18

If you tried it, please let me know how it came out for you. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

A Better Homemade Bagel: #92 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

My parents’ house is just down the street from an amazing Jewish bakery, and the smell of fresh bagels when you walk in there is like floating away on a cloud of deliciousness. I was determined to figure out how to make bagels myself, and discovered they’re actually not that tricky! We topped these with “Everything but the bagel” spice from Trader Joe’s (a mix of garlic, onion, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, salt and pepper) and made some amazing sandwiches.

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($3 total for 8 bagels)

1 tbsp active dry yeast – $0.50
1 tbsp brown sugar – $0.37
1 1/2 cups hottest tap water – free
4 cups flour – $0.64
1 tbsp salt – $0.12
1/4 cup honey – $0.56
1 tbsp baking soda – $0.03
1 tsp salt – $0.05
8 cups water – free
Bagel toppings (sesame seeds, poppy seeds, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper) – $0.56
1 egg – $0.29

Directions

1. In a small plastic (non-metal) bowl, mix the yeast and brown sugar, then add the hottest tap water. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes to form a foam over the surface. In a separate, larger bowl, mix the flour and 1 tbsp salt.

Add the yeast mixture to the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until it comes together. Use your hands to knead it for about 7-10 minutes. Rub some olive oil around the larger bowl, then add the dough ball to it. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours until doubled in size.

2. Divide the dough into 8 equal balls, and poke a hole with your thumbs into the center of each ball. Pull it apart and shape it into a bagel shape. 

Heat the 8 cups water, honey, baking soda, and 1 tsp salt in a large, shallow pan until it boils. Turn the heat down to simmering (medium or medium-high) and gently place a few bagels in at a time. They will float to the top. Cook for 1 minute, then flip them over and cook for 1 minute more. 

3. Put the boiled bagels on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with the beaten egg, then sprinkle whatever toppings you like on top. We left a few plain for the picky eaters among us. 

Bake at 425F for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for 10 more minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for about 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Enjoy fresh or store in the freezer for later eating!

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 2 = 1-3 hours
  • Servings:  3 = lots of leftovers
  • Cost per person (prices based on Trader Joe’s/Costco): 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 2 = healthy-ish
  • TOTAL: 16/18

If you tried it, please let me know how it came out for you. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Homemade Challah: #68 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

My parents have a Jewish bakery near their house, and one of my favorite things to get whenever I visit is the fresh challah bread (along with blueberry buns and chocolate babka). This recipe comes from the inspiring Once Upon A Chef blog, and it’s one of the best loaves of bread I’ve ever baked! The challah disappeared into 5 happy, hungry mouths. 

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($4 total)

1 tbsp active dry yeast – $0.50
1/4 cup hottest tap water + 1/2 cup lukewarm water – free
1 tsp sugar – $0.02
6 tbsp canola oil – $0.28
6 tbsp honey – $0.84
3 eggs + 1 egg yolk – $1.16
4-1/4 cups flour – $0.68
2 tsp salt – $0.10

Directions

1. In a small non-metal bowl, mix the yeast, 1/4 cup hottest tap water, and 1 tsp sugar. Let it sit for 5 minutes to form a thick foam. Then add in the 1/2 cup water, oil, honey, and only 2 of the eggs + 1 egg yolk. Mix gently. In a larger bowl, mix the flour and salt.

2. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until it’s mostly a dough, then knead with your hands for 5-7 minutes until it turns into a nice smooth, elastic ball. It’s ok if it’s a bit sticky as you’re kneading it. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for about 2 hours until doubled in size (hard to see here because the first picture is zoomed in).

3. Cut the dough into 4 pieces, roll each piece out to about 20 inches long, and pinch all the ends together at one side. Starting from the right side each time, work the strands over, under, over the other 3 strands. Always start from the right, and you’ll end up with a nice tight braid. Pinch the ends together, cover and let it rise in a warm place for about an hour until it’s about 1.5 the original size. Then beat up the remaining egg and brush it all over the braid.

4. Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes until the crust is a rich brown color. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy! This also makes amazing French toast the next day. 

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 1 = 3+ hours
  • Servings:  3 = lots of leftovers
  • Cost per person (prices based on Trader Joe’s/Costco): 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 2 = healthy-ish
  • TOTAL: 15/18

If you tried it, please let me know how it came out for you. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Easy Homemade Bagels: #29 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

Hot, fresh-from-the-oven, chewy bagels are a fun weekend treat. The steps are super easy but there is one overnight resting period. If you have some time on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, this is a great recipe to allow make-your-own bagel sandwiches for Sunday lunch.

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($2 total)

1 tbsp + 1 tbsp honey – $0.28
1 tbsp active dry yeast – $0.50
2 tsp + 1 tsp salt – $0.15
1 cup hottest tap water + full pot of water – free
2 cups flour – $0.32
1½ cups white whole wheat flour – $0.26
¼ cup milk or unsweetened soy milk – $0.10
1 tbsp baking soda – $0.04
Sesame/poppy seeds to taste

Directions

1. In a small bowl, mix 1 tbsp honey and the yeast into the 1 cup hot water and let sit to bloom for 5 mins. 

In a large bowl, add the regular and white whole wheat flours and 2 tsp salt, then mix in the bloomed yeast mixture. Stir until the dough is too hard to mix, then work it with your hands. Add a bit of extra water if the flour won’t all work itself into the dough.

Knead for about 5-8 minutes until you have a smooth, elastic, stiff ball of dough. Cover with a tea towel in a bowl and let it rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

2. Cut the risen dough into 8 equal pieces, roll each piece into a ball in your hands, then press a hole into the center of the ball and shape it into a bagel shape. Don’t use any flour at this stage or the dough will be too dry.

Put the shaped bagels onto a parchment-lined baking tray, and brush each one with olive oil. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate overnight.

3. The next morning, take the bagels out of the fridge and bring them up to room temperature for 1 hour. Test if the bagels are risen enough to boil by dropping one into a bowl of cold water and seeing if it floats.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the 1 tbsp honey, baking soda, and 1 tsp salt. Turn down to a simmer and drop 3 bagels in at a time. They should come up to float after a few seconds. Set a timer for 1 minute, and flip the bagels over for another minute when it rings, so both sides get nicely poached in the liquid.

Take the bagels out with a flapjack that has holes in it to drain out the liquid, and put back on the baking sheet. Decorate with seeds and salt while they’re still wet. Repeat with all the bagels, then preheat the oven to 500F.

Put an empty baking tray on the rack below where the bagels will bake, so the bottoms don’t get too dark. Put the bagels in and immediately turn the oven down to 450F. Bake for 8-10 minutes, open the oven to rotate the pan, and bake for another 8-10 minutes, until they’re nice and golden. 

Remove from oven, cool on a wire rack, then slice and fill with your favorite bagel toppings.

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 1 = 3+ hours
  • Servings:  3 = >6 servings
  • Cost per person (prices based on Trader Joe’s/Costco): 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 2 = decent meal
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 2 = healthy-ish
  • TOTAL: 14/18

If you tried it, please let me know how it came out for you. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!