By guest blogger TRACEY
It was all go at Friday’s Development Education Programme session. Rob had the 11 participants captivated with information and instructions on how to make authentic bagels and a scone base soda bread. The participants were eager to get started and remained keen throughout the session.
They carefully measured out the simple ingredients of flour, salt, yeast and sugar for the bagels, then gradually added the wet ingredients of oil and warm milk to make a spongy dough which was left to rise while the group turned their attentions to the soda bread. The cooking room then doubled up as a science lab as Rob wanted to demonstrate how the rising agent (bicarbonate of soda, or, to give it its proper name, sodium bicarbonate) reacts when added to lemon juice, water and vinegar. I think we all expected to see a fair-sized eruption once it was added to the water – alas there was nothing, however, excitement rippled through the room when Rob was encouraged on and added the bicarbonate of soda to the vinegar and plenty of bubbles appeared. Rob wanted us to understand that the creation of the bubbles aids the rising process during baking. Experiments aside, cold milk, lemon juice and vinegar were added to ¾ white bread flour, ¼ wholemeal, sugar and salt. The group members were given the option of adding pumpkin seeds. A wet dough was formed, then flour was sprinkled on top, enabling the group to divide the mix into two balls. Indentations of a cross were made into each ball then they were placed on a well-greased baking tray and put in the oven for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, the participants returned to the bagel dough, rolling out long sausage-shaped pieces, chopping the ends then joining them together. These rings were placed in boiling water for three minutes each side, removed and basted with a beaten egg. The bagels were sprinkled with sesame or poppy seeds and cooked in the ovens for 20 minutes. Everyone was delighted with the results: really authentic-looking bagels which tasted superb – thanks, guys, for a really enjoyable session.