Sourdough Everything Bagel Bread
The internet is awash with recipes for bagel breads, but I can't get excited about them, because they involve more steps and work than I want to invest in my bread and are generally a pain-in-in the butt (sorry, but they are!). I do like the idea--a soft but chewy yeast bread with nifty toppings. Nonetheless, I wanted to reduce the amount of steps required and omit the signature boiling of the bagel bread. Yes, the boiling produces a nice crust on the bagel bread, but no, I don't care. Instead, I opted for a chewy sourdough loaf that's full of natural yeast flavor and has a nice golden crust that won't damage your teeth and that's loaded with all kinds of seeds. The sourdough bread is simple to mix, sits around and does its thing for about 24 hours, and then bakes up into an incredibly tasty, better than plain bagel bread loaf. I used an "Everything Bagel" topping mix from Trader Joe's, but other stores sell similar mixes. Alternatively, you can mix up your own with lots of sesame, onion, nigella, poppy, and other seeds. The bread is great with dinner, makes nice sandwiches, and is especially good toasted and topped with cheese slices.
Sourdough Everything Bagel Bread -- Makes 2 Medium Loaves
1 cup of starter/discard (I use a white whole-wheat-based starter)
3/4 cup of almond or low-fat milk
2 tablespoons of canola oil
2 tablespoons of honey
1 1/4 cups of white whole-wheat flour
2 cups of all-purpose flour, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
2-4 tablespoons of Everything Bagel mix seeds
In a large bowl, combine the starter, milk, oil, honey, white whole-wheat flour, and 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour. Stir the mixture until everything is well combined. Cover the mixture loosely and let it sit for about an hour. Add to the mixture the remaining 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour and the salt. Stir or knead the mixture well for 3-5 minutes. Drizzle the dough with a teaspoon of oil, turn it in the bowl to coat all sides, and then cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap. Put the dough in the refrigerator or a cool place (I put the dough in my unheated sun room) for about 24 hours or until the dough is about doubled. Punch the dough down, divide it into two pieces and shape the dough pieces into two loaves. Put each loaf in a pan (I use 8- x 4-inch pans) coated with non-stick cooking spray. Spritz the top of each loaf with non-stick cooking spray and divide the Everything Bagel mix between the two loaves, sprinkling some of the mix evenly on top of each loaf. Spritz the seeds with non-stick cooking spray (this helps stick them on the loaf), lightly cover the loaves with plastic wrap and set them aside to rise until they are about doubled in volume. This can take 2-4 hours at room temperature or about 8-12 in the refrigerator or a similarly cool place. Bake the risen loaves at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes or until golden brown (a cooking thermometer inserted in the center of a loaf should register 190 degrees or so). Let the loaves cool before slicing them if you want nice, uniform slices.