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The joy of baking

I mix and knead and then set the dough to rise in my chipped enamel bowl. My bench scraper portions the warm dough into 18 pieces. After rolling each piece into a snake-like shape, one end is dipped into a shallow bowl of water. A pinch and a fold at the juncture guarantees the two ends will lock together, a gesture so familiar over the years I can do it without looking. The rings of dough rise again under a clean dish towel and then are gently dropped into honey-sweetened, simmering water. After their brief bath, each side is dipped into seeds, blank spots created from where my fingers held them. Under a continuous trickle of water in my sink, I rinse my fingers and repeat the process. Sheet pans lined with crisp parchment paper and shimmering bagels go into the hot oven and bake until they’re brown and crisp. My little kitchen smells like heaven.  

A hot bagel is split. Its interior is soft and slightly sweet. Butter quickly melts on one half, cold cream cheese is clumsily spread on the other. I can’t wait. I stand at the kitchen sink and smile as I devour this beautiful food that I made. 

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