Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hole in my soul for pastry with holes

I spleen quite a bit about the things SEAK lacks. You all hear my whining and wish I would just. Shut. It. Sure, right after I crab about the lack of decent baked goods or deep fried bread products. My hippie-dink town boasts neither bakery nor decent doughnut joint. There are coffee shops with baked goods and the grocery stores provide academic doughnuts (they are round, with holes). What I wouldn't do for real honest-to-goodness pastry or maple bar. It borders on psychotic.

Every Saturday we have a ritual: get up, drink coffee, read the weekend edition of the Sentinel to scout for garage sales, get in our crap car, buy a doughnut, garage sale. The cliche of crazy is to do the same thing and expect different results. It's like that with the doughnuts here. I think they are flown in, pre-cooked from some hole in the lower 48, reconstituted here and smeared with some Pillsbury canned frosting. After eating them, I get sort of hungover from the awfulness. I swear if my body will just process this abomination, I won't ever eat one again (until next week when I begin the shame-cycle over).

We do have a solution to this problem, a cheap/easy/somewhat nasty work around. I learned this from my F-I-L after an unsuccessful bout with beignets. Here are the steps:
  1. Buy the cheapest cans of pop-n-fresh biscuits you can find at your local store (really, the off brand is best. We buy Western Family).
  2. Fix a pot of coffee (fortification)
  3. Open the cans of biscuits
  4. Shape the dough globules into a reasonable approximation of a doughnut (i.e. stick a hole in them)
  5. Heat veggie/corn/canola oil in a stock pot to 350 degrees (you are gonna deep fry some dough just like the Joads!)
  6. Put sugar and cinnamon into a lunch bag sized paper bag
  7. Fry your "doughnuts"
  8. Take them out of the oil and let them drain
  9. Place doughnuts in the bag and give them a good shake to coat
  10. Eat (but not too many because I think each biscuit has like 230 calories--not a joke)
Yes, these are super trashy. They are better than what I get in the store because they are crispy and warm, unlike the stale ones from the store. We don't eat these too often because deep frying leaves the house feeling greasy. And they are a serious gut bomb.

In learning to bake things by my own self because I have to, I have learned that I don't like Rose Levy Beranbaum. I. Can't. Stand. Her. She comes across as an insufferable twit with her stories about how great and accomplished she is. SO ANGRY. Like, irrationally angry about her books and the presumption they are important enough to be titled I am so great at things bible. This is why I don't use her book (except for the one recipe for Monkey Bread because admittedly that's a great recipe). MAJOR aside: I saw her smug face on a bag of flour that she "endorses" and I got so angry I had to leave the baking aisle, complaining at how much she sucks to my embarrassed husband. Really, only complete jackholes endorse flour.

Uh, I was going to talk about my Bagel adventures, sorry. I like making bagels. Recently, I altered a recipe (Not Beranbaums bagels of smug) to make blueberry ones with my local berries. They were successful. For those of you who bake, you know that bread isn't always fool proof. Unfortunately, they were made with only white flour. I'd like to add more whole wheat or other whole grains so they are a wee bit healthier. Trouble is, whole grain bagels turn out like bricks. Thoughts?
See how nice a fluffy the blueberry ones are and how flat the wheat (everything) ones are? I even added gluten to help. It will be a long winter of bagelsperimentation.


  1. AMAZING work on the bagels! Did you bake or boil them? And what are the delctable looking ones that look like all-dressed? mmmm.

    Also: I echo your sentiment on RLB. You know what infuriates me even more? The completely unnecessary over complication of what needn't be a deplorable task. I've taught three friends how to make basic bread wtihin the last two months, and when they saw how easy it was they were immediate converts. It's not ALL ABOUT fussing with sponges and slow repeated rises. Grrrr. And bible INDEED. If I ever write a cookbook (ha!) it would be "The Half-Assed Lazy Cheapskate's Guide To Dinner."

  2. You have no idea how happy it makes me to share in the RLB hate. (except for the sponge thing for bread--my cool, humid climate is bread kryptonite and a sponge helps).

    Bagels are boiled then baked on a stone after an overnight retard in the fridge. The others are whole-wheat everything bagels. They tasted good but were too dense.