Crunchy Bottoms

Striking the caloric balance. Barely.

Monthly Archives: February 2013

Browned Butter Cinnamon Sugar Bombs

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I’ve created a monster. Well, mini monsters, fun-sized gremlins on crack.

I must admit, the only reason I’m actually punching out a recipe post after ages of my last one is because I need to quickly gush about this while I’m still high off cinnamon sugar. This is coming out now as I lick my fingers clean.

I don’t think this needs further introduction. It’s all in the name, and it’s everything that it sounds like, except better. There will be no sugar-coating (har har) in this post, because I want to get right into the crux of the batter, I mean matter.

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This.

I must have burnt the tips of my fingers a little, handling these bumpkins the moment they were birthed from the oven, dunking them into nutty browned butter, and rolling them in cinnamon sugar. After a handful of attempts at making cinnamon buns, I’m almost ashamed to say that I think I’d give that up and settle for this instead.

This is one of those situations in which I don’t know what I did right, can only speculate, but am more than content to indulge in its spoils anyway. I couldn’t be bothered with buttermilk so I threw in a couple of tablespoons of tangy Greek yoghurt as a substitute and must have stumbled upon some wonder of alchemy in the process. The result is a springy, tender inside perfumed with a hint of nutmeg, and a crusty top. That’s it. Oh, and I almost forgot – the browned butter did all the rest.

Browned Butter Cinnamon Sugar Bombs

Adapted from Smittenkitchen

The browned butter makes all the difference, as I have come to learn from any recipe that calls to melt butter. It’s a drastic change in flavour and aroma from butter that has only been melted, and requires only a couple of minutes longer atop the stove.

Yield: 8-10 medium muffin-sized bombs

Ingredients:

Topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Batter:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup castor sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing muffin cups
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup full-fat milk
3 tbs Greek yoghurt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Butter or oil 10 medium muffin cups.

2. Prepare topping. In a small pan, melt 6 tablespoons butter and cook till the surface starts to brown a little and the butter smells nutty. Turn off the heat and set the pan aside. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl, mix and set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.

4. Combine the milk and yoghurt in a cup.

5. In another medium bowl, beat the softened butter and sugar together until pale and light. Add the egg and vanilla extract. Mix till the mixture thickens.

6. Add in 1/2 the flour mixture, stirring gently, and then 1/2 of the milk mixture. Repeat for the remaining flour and milk mixtures. Fold until just combined, taking care not to beat the mixture.

7. Scoop the batter into the cups 3/4 of the way. Bake for 15 minutes till golden brown.

8. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing the cups (or you can keep them on) and dipping the tops and sides lightly in the browned butter, and then the cinnamon sugar. Try not to press down into the butter or sugar to prevent uneven bits from sticking.

New York City 2012: Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company

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Since I started on bagels, I might as well go the whole nine yards.  I’m aware that my less-than-qualified commentary on New York’s bagels is like dancing across a field of land-mines. Naked.

But in my defense, I’m a bread-snob, so it follows that I should know a thing or two about bagels. I have tried making bagels a couple of times since I got back. Let’s just say that I will try again.

Bagels may or may not have salt and malt added into the dough, but they are almost always boiled in water (sometimes containing baking soda, the science of which I will leave for another time) before baking. The New York bagel is almost always salted and malted, giving it its characteristic chew.

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My first and proper New York bagel was at Brooklyn Bagel. To be precise, my first half bagel was at Brooklyn Bagel. I had to share. A bagel here is the diameter of a three-month old child’s head. If I threw a bagel at you (I’ve got a sexy right lob), it would at least stun you, if it didn’t bruise. These are traditionally dense New York bagels, and –  just to put things into perspective – the equivalent of six bowls of rice, or so the rumour goes. That said, I’ve been to a number of bagel shops and can assure you that the Bagel of Massive Proportions is only found here, at Brooklyn Bagel. They sell mini bagels too, which I assume are regular-sized ones, and still about two bowls of rice I’m sure.

But these bagels pack a crunch and chew that blew my mind, and the maddeningly generous fillings almost landed me in a near-catatonic state.

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They have some of the freshest and most flavourful cream cheese spreads around – sweet, savoury, tofu spreads, flavoured butters, low-fat cream cheese, hummus, peanut butter…

Go wild. But don’t hold up the line. I don’t have any particular bagel and cream cheese combinations to recommend, but sweet bagels go with sweet cream cheese, and so on. This above is a Wholewheat Bagel with White Fish spread and Sun-dried Tomato cream cheese.

Personally, toasted bagels are the way to go, but some purists insist that if you’re in a bagel shop early enough, the freshest bagels needn’t ever be toasted. The buns stay warm enough to still give the cream cheese that semi-melty gorgeous texture.

Speaking of going early, I’ll be forthright and say that no one should ever have a bagel past noon. I’m not saying this for puritanical reasons, but for practical and scientific ones.

DSC_9829Studies have shown (actually, just one, and not even rigidly scientific at that), that a bagel’s half-life is no more than half an hour. The freshness of a bagel deteriorates exponentially from the moment it leaves the warm embrace of the oven. It is aptly coined the Heisen-Bagel Uncertainty Principle by the Serious Eats team in their search for New York’s best bagel, in which “The act of transporting a bagel to a second location produces fundamental uncertainties in its inherent qualities, such that determining a true “best bagel,” in a head-to-head face-off, becomes impossible.”

Or, in simple English, that merely means that the best tasting bagel is one in which you get up early for. I can vouch for it.

Pseudo-scientific principles aside, oddly enough, this doesn’t apply as strictly to other bread products, but I’ll hypothesize outside of this post.

Oh, and one last word of warning: Stick to two filling combinations at the very most, unless you’re willing to fork out more than USD$10 for breakfast. These are delicious, but pricey, bagels.


Address: 

286 8th Ave
(between 24th St & 25th St)
New York, NY 10001
Neighborhood: Chelsea

Hours:

Mon-Sun 7 am – 10 pm

Website: http://bkbagel.com/