Would you ever attempt homemade bagels?

Posted by / Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Photo by rusvaplauke/Flickr.

Photo by rusvaplauke/Flickr.

Today’s home baking debate is no longer about the inferiority of Wonder Bread compared to fresh, homemade loaves. That’s been done (and the answer should be obvious).

What bloggers seem to be churning out of their ovens these days are the kinds of bread products that the majority of us tend to leave to the experts: bagels, English muffins, soft-pretzels and other individually proportioned breads.

I’ve also noticed more than a few blog entries by ambitious home bakers who set out to pit commercial baked goods against the homemade variety.

To prove I’m not just imagining things, here’s some evidence I’ve gathered on this trend:

Slate contributor, Jennifer Reese, conducts a cost-benefit analysis to assess the value of homemade bagels (along with a host of other pantry staples like crackers, yogurt and even cream cheese) compared with the store-bought variety. Her vote on the homemade bagel question: “Make or buy? Make.”

Melinda McCamant from Serious Eats reports on the results of “The English Muffin Experiment,” which compared homemade English muffins with commercial muffin brands (including Trader Joe’s and Thomas’). Her verdict: “I wanted my English Muffins to win and in the end, based on overall taste, cost, and quality of ingredients, they did.”

Pioneer Woman invites Smitten Kitchen over to hang out. Smitten Kitchen talks Pioneer Woman into baking homemade bagels. Pioneer Woman’s life will never be the same: “We made bagels today, and while I realize I’m slightly prone to hyperbole from time to time, I will say this: THESE BAGELS HAVE CHANGED MY LIFE.” We’re guessing that they’re pro-homemade as well.

What I haven’t seen are tons of blog posts encouraging us to make our own croissants — and I think I know why. I once made a batch of homemade croissants from a recipe in Rose Levy Barenbaum’s The Pie and Pastry Bible.

And it took me fourteen hours.

Granted, they were the flakiest, buttery-est croissants I’ve ever had (thanks to over half a pound of European butter), but I can’t see myself ever making them again.

Here’s what I want to know about your home baking adventures:

1.      Would you ever try baking bagels, English muffins or croissants at home?

2.     What’s the most ambitious thing you’ve ever attempted to bake? And was it worth it?

– Christina Lee

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3 Responses

Laura Says:

mmm, might have to try some homemade bagels this weekend! Granola too, I think.

The most ambitious thing I’ve attempted to bake was a mocha sponge cake with irish cream chocolate mousse filling and molded chocolate bands ‘belting’ it in. It was an intense 2-day process and in the end … about as good as the ones you can buy at any number of local bakeries. About the same price too! Let’s call that one a learning experience.

Inna Says:

I bake very often. The most ambitious things… I will recall few: DABOS cake (European, not the New Orleane style), Russian Napoleon (1000 leavs with custard, all from scratch), real Russian Black Bread.
Now we eat only homemade bread, bagels, pizza and etc., thanks to “Artisien Bread. 5 minuts a day” book.
Even I baked bread before (with breadmaker and without), but this method is a real time saver.

Clara O. Rogers Says:

Wow! Thank you! I always wanted to write in my site something like that. I’m adding your feed to my reader.

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