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These Bagel Flavors Really Shouldn’t Exist

These Bagel Flavors Really Shouldn’t Exist

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Cinnamon sugar? Seriously?

Of all the cheeses on earth, why top a bagel with Asiago?

Go to a classic bagel shop in New York City and you’ll encounter pretty much the same varieties at each of them: plain, poppy, sesame, everything, pumpernickel, onion, and some more (relatively) newfangled ones like cinnamon raisin, whole wheat and garlic. Call us old-fashioned, but there are some bagel varieties that really shouldn’t exist. Here are five.

For some reason, all the chain bagel shops decided that of all the cheeses in existence, Asiago should be the one that flavors bagels, most likely because the name sounds cool, like one that would be made up to name a car (Buy or lease the 2015 Fiat Asiago today!). There’s only one cheese that should go on a bagel: cream cheese.

Chocolate Chip
If you want to eat chocolate for breakfast, eat chocolate chip pancakes. Chocolate has no reason to ever go near a bagel.

Cinnamon Sugar
Bagels are not dainty. A sprinkle of cinnamon sugar is the height of dainty. You want cinnamon sugar, eat a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Spinach Florentine
Sorry, what? Get off my lawn, you geriatric pasta dish.

If you had told one of the Bagel Guild workers 100 years ago, slaving away in steamy rooms as hot as a furnace, to mix a delicate handful of blueberries into the batter, you’d have been sent running for your life. Here’s a rule of thumb: if it mixes well with yogurt, it has no place inside a bagel.

These Are The Bakery-Style Recipes You've Been Searching For

There's something decadent about walking into a bakery — the smell of freshly baked bread combined with rows upon rows of cakes, cookies, and other sweet treats can really do a number on your senses. And while the professional presentation (and sometimes over-the-top recipes) you see from trained bakers may be out of the reach of novices, you may be surprised how simple many bakery-style recipes really are.

The thing to remember about baking, though, is that precise measurements are critically important to the final product. Bakers work as though they're chemists with how they manage and measure their ingredients to make sure they get everything "just so." So when you start putting the following recipes to the test, be sure to focus on the details. If a recipe calls for a teaspoon of baking powder, make sure you're leveling off your teaspoon to get the amount exactly right. And at the end of the day, remember that practice makes perfect. If a recipe doesn't come out exactly how you expected it to, don't completely write it off — it may take a couple attempts before you master a tricky recipe.

On Flavors

Everything bagels rule the roost, but would you believe it? I'm particular about what goes on my everything bagel. Dehydrated onion, garlic, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, pretzel salt, and caraway seed are what belong there. Yes, I said caraway seed. Some folks don't put caraway seed on their everything bagels. Some folks also prefer Star Trek to Star Wars. They deserve our condolences and our understanding, but not our respect.

I ordered an everything bagel at that same San Francisco bakery and received something coated with pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and amaranth. Amaranth! That is not an everything bagel. That is a seed catalog, and a rather bourgeois one at that.

After everything, the best flavors are, in order of goodness:

  • Salt
  • Garlic or Onion
  • Poppy Seed
  • Egg
  • Sesame Seed
  • Pumpernickel
  • Cinnamon Raisin

I include cinnamon raisin in this lineup only because my wife likes to eat them with scallion cream cheese. If there is one thing more important than a good bagel, it's a harmonious marriage.

That is the limit of where bagel flavors should go. I've heard that the exact moment eight out of ten serial killers went wrong can be traced back to the first time they tried a blueberry bagel or a bagel topped with cheese and jalapeños. Don't let that happen to you. If nothing else, then think of the children.

For the record, when I pick up a flavored bagel, those flavorings better stay attached. I want an everything bagel, not a plain bagel with an everything flavored plate. I can't eat plates. Can you? The coating of tasty-looking Maldon sea salt applied to the salt bagel at a certain highly praised San Francisco bakery (it's still the same one) looked great, but it sloughed off like dead skin cells the moment I tried to bite into the bagel.

A small amount of flotsam that makes its way to the plate is okay, though: this gives you the opportunity to trap escaped bits of garlic and caraway seed with the cream cheese side of your last bagel quarter. Everybody knows the last bagel quarter is the best.

On Slicing

It's a given that a bagel should be sliced in half horizontally so that it can be properly topped, but I also want my bagels cut in half vertically. This cutting method allows you to eat the bagel one quarter at a time, which is not only ideal from a textural standpoint, so that your top teeth first meet with cream cheese while your bottom teeth first meet with crisp crust, but it also provides a convenient point of entry that a completely round bagel half doesn't. What's more, that vertical cut should be made after wrapping the bagel in deli paper so that one vertical half stays nice and closed while you operate on the first vertical half.

On Butter, Cream Cheese, and Toppings

Easy one. Butter is best when melted. Cream cheese turns slimy and sticky any hotter than room temperature. So if the bagel is hot and fresh out of the oven, butter. If the bagel has had a chance to cool, cream cheese. As a kid, when I knew I wanted a buttery bagel, I'd always feel the glass in front of the display cases to see which ones were the hottest. Whether I wanted plain, sesame, egg, or everything, freshness and temperature trumps all when butter is in the picture. The bagel man would slice it open and smear on the butter which sat in a display case right next to the garlic bagels, giving that butter a garlicky aroma just by virtue of its proximity.

As for the cream cheese, there's debate over the proper amount. I know from our Senior Features Editor Max Falkowitz's great piece on the economics of bagel and cream cheese pricing in New York that he has feelings about the proper amount of cream cheese, and just how to order it. Perhaps in Forest Hills where he grew up, saying "just a schmear" will get you a knowing look, a nod of approval, and a thin layer of cream cheese on your bagel, but at my childhood bagelry, I believe you'd get your a$% kicked saying something like that. The only person I ever heard using the expression was my Romanian violin teacher, and she was from Jersey.

For my money, I want more than a "schmear" of cream cheese. I want a slathering. You can always remove excess cream cheese, but you can't make up for it if there's not enough. And after splitting the bagel, that cream cheese had better be spread on both sides so that when you pull the two halves apart for eating you have equal coverage on the two newly-formed open-faced bagel sandwiches.

Despite what the Department of Health says, cream cheese should be kept in a deli display at, or slightly below, room temperature. Fridge-cold cream cheese will not cut it. Speaking of which, if that cream cheese comes pre-cut into slices, turn tail and run as fast as you can. If you're given little fridge-cold packs of Philadelphia along with a plastic knife, throw them to the ground scornfully, and then run. And if you order cream cheese and the nice lady behind the counter says they don't have any, gasp in horror and quietly back away towards the door. As soon as you are on the street, run.

Flavored cream cheeses are acceptable if and only if those flavors are scallion or lox. Again: fruit does not belong anywhere near a bagel.

You want other toppings? Go for it. Just limit your selection to a mayo-based salad of some kind (whitefish would be the best option), or some quality hand-sliced lox with tomatoes, red onions, and capers if you really insist. If you're able to put eggs and cheese on your bagel, call it a breakfast sandwich, and eat it comfortably, you've got one of two things in your hands: an overly soft bagel or overcooked eggs. Neither is cause for celebration.

If you are lucky enough to live somewhere where you've got access to great bagels, make sure this factors into your equations when deciding whether or not to move to a new city and be aware that good bagels are not the norm. I know that this rant is going to divide readers into two categories: those who want nothing more than to eat a bagel with me, and those that want nothing more than for me to leave them and their bagel choices alone. Just beware: only one side will fall on the right side of history, but both sides will get the bagels they deserve, no more, no less. The choice is yours.

EDIT: I forgot to mention something about size. Bagels, like Americans, have an obesity problem. At many bagel shops, even in New York (or maybe especially in New York) bagels have gotten so fat and swollen that they completely lose their hole. It's the bagel version of no longer being able to see your feet or having to lift up a muffin top just to be able to pee. Without that hole, a bagel no longer has a place for extra cream cheese to collect. It no longer has a convenient point of entry for a good bite. It's also just the wrong damned size. Too big to eat comfortably in one sitting, too small to be satisfied with just a half, not to mention that the larger and puffier the bagel, the worse the ratio of crust to innards is. A bagel should at most have the perimeter of, say, a softball, though hardball-sized bagels are even better when you can find them.

How to Make Homemade New York-Style Bagels

First, proof the yeast. Proofing basically means you’re activating the yeast. To do this, you will need to add sugar and yeast into luke warm water. After about 5 minutes, the yeast will bubble up this indicates that the mixture is ready to stir until everything is properly dissolved.

Then, mix the bagel dough together. You can you can opt to make the bagel dough by hand (which I highly recommend if you’re making this recipe for the firs time), or you can do so with a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment, on the lowest setting (for about 5 to 6 minutes). If you’re making a double batch you might not be able to use your stand mixer for kneading– refer to your manufacturer’s instructions.

When mixing the bagel dough, you may or may not need the entirety of the water called for in the recipe. You want the bagel dough to be moist and firm after it is mixed. Sometimes you may need more water, depending on humidity, brand of flour, your altitude, climate, amongst many other things.

Once the dough has come together and has been kneaded, place the bagel dough in an oiled bowl to rest for an hour (about 2 hours if you’re using less yeast) or covered overnight in the refrigerator.

Once the bagel dough has rested, you will need to deflate it. You will know it has rested enough when you poke the dough with your finger and the impression remains. If it bounces back, the bagel dough has not risen enough.

If you allowed the bagel dough to rest in the refrigerator, allow it to sit at room temperature for about 1/2 hour before working with it.

Once deflated, divide the dough. It should be divided into 8 equal portions. Feel free to use a scale or eyeball it. You do not have to be exacting about this just make sure they’re roughly even so that all the bagels bake at the same time.

After that, form the bagel dough portions into rounds. Don’t use flour for this step. This is going to sound more complicated than it is, but hold your hand in a C shape while cupping a portion of dough.

Press the dough against the work surface (remember to avoid flouring it) and move your hand and the dough in a slow, circular motion. Allow the irregular edge of the dough to pull onto itself, while decreasing the pressure on top of the dough slightly until a perfectly smooth round ball forms.

Repeat this with the other portions. Have your eyes crossed? This probably does sound difficult at first, but essentially all you’re doing is making the dough round taut by pulling its sides in and keeping it round.

Now, here comes the part when we shape the bagel dough! Working gently and firmly with the dough will result in perfectly smooth bagels.

Simply coat a finger with flour and gently press your finger into the center of each dough ball. Then you stretch the rings out to about a third of the diameter of the bagel and place them onto a prepared baking sheet.

It’s time to boil the bagels. The bagels need a little rest in between shaping and boiling. So, while the unbaked bagels rest, bring a large pot of water to a bubbling boil.

Once it has reached a boil, lower the heat to a simmer. You’ll need a slotted spoon or a skimmer to place the bagels into the water. Some folks like to use small squares of parchment that they cut up before hand– do what is most comfortable for you.

Handling the uncooked dough with the utmost care will preserve their shape as well.

Boil the bagels and don’t overcrowd the water. Boil as many bagels as you can comfortably fit into the pot. They will puff up quite a bit, so do keep in mind they do need some breathing room.

Once in the water, the bagels will float on the top. Let them sit for 1 minute, then gently flip them over to boil for another minute on the other side.

This will give them a nice crust and their signature New York-Style chew. You can go a little bit longer on the poach, as well. This will give them a stronger crust and chew– more on that in the recipe.

After boiling them, top the bagels! This is the time when you can let your creativity run free. You can use any or all of the topping options listed in the recipe.

Often times I do a combination of toppings to make a delicious homemade everything bagel or I sometimes just keep it plain or stick to one ingredient on each bagel. Be creative!

Once the bagels have been topped, bake them. Depending if your oven is calibrated or not (I like to keep an oven thermometer in mine to ensure it’s always accurate), you will need to bake the bagels between 20-25 minutes. Until they’re uniformly golden brown.

Now, here is the difficult part (not really). You’re supposed to let these cool for at least a few minutes once they’re out of the oven, until you can handle them. If you’re impatient like me, I brave through it, slice one open and schmear some cream cheese on mine right away.

Bagels: Good or Bad?

Who doesn’t love a bagel for breakfast, but boy are they a calorie-dense breakfast. People are always surprised -- and a little freaked out -- to hear how many slices of bread actually equal a single bagel. Here’s the good and the bad.

A modest, medium-sized, plain bagel (about 3.5 to 4 inches in diameter) has about 300 calories and 1.5 grams of fat. The bagels your local bakery or bagel shop serves are probably MUCH larger than this, weighing in at closer to 500 to 600 calories a pop. To compare, that’s like eating six slices of bread! Add on some regular cream cheese at 50 calories and 5 grams of fat per tablespoon and you’ve already polished off a third of the average 2,000-calories-a-day diet.

How can there be such a discrepancy between bagels and bread? It all comes down to density. Bagels are more dense -- imagine those six slices of bread squeezed together. This is what gives bagels their chewy texture but also ups the calories.

As for the different bagel flavors, some have more calories than others. A chocolate chip or French toast bagel will have more calories than a plain while a poppy seed or pumpernickel bagel have about the same as the plain. A lot of folks order wheat bagels, thinking they’re the healthier choice. Many “wheat” bagels just contain a small amount of wheat flour, which means they aren't really whole grain. If they’re “whole wheat” they may have a bit more fiber but the calories will be the same (if not a bit higher). Bagels loaded with nuts and seeds on top may appear super healthy, but may have as much as 100 calories more calories and more fat.

The good news is that the calories from bagels are nutritious and good for you (when you forgo the chocolate chips or sugary toppings), so you can make room for them in your diet.

As is often the case, portion size is most important. Opt for smaller bagels and stick to just a half. A single-ounce portion of a bagel (about the size of one of those mini-bagels) has 80 calories use this as your guide on your next trip to the bagel shop. Instead of globs of full-fat cream cheese, get the light version to cut the calories and fat by almost 50%. Or choose other high-protein toppings such as peanut butter, smoked salmon, hummus or a scrambled egg -- they will help fill you up and keep you from going for that other half of the bagel. If you'll be tempted, offer to split a bagel with a family member or work friend.

And what about "hollowing out" your bagel? Sure, people do this and it saves calories (how many depends on how much bread you dig out), but it seems awfully wasteful. It's much smarter to stick to half a bagel and just enjoy the other half for another breakfast.

Bottom Line: Save the bagels for one day a week. When you do enjoy it, have a half along with some protein to help keep you satisfied.

New york deli-style bagels

Tell me you feel it, too: This thing they call cabin fever. It likes to sneak up on me a few weeks after the holidays (which were less than a month ago… anyone else feel like it’s been for. ev. er. already?) and overstay its welcome through early spring.

Now living in the North Star State, wherein many a cloud loves to linger — and linger and linger — when the winter months are well settled in and the flora and fauna in full hibernation, sometimes the best way for me to get a little spurt of energy and happiness is through my kitchen.

I can only speak for myself when I say that bagels are some of the best things ever created though I’m sure, if you’ve ever tasted a homemade bagel fresh from the oven, chewy and flavorful and slathered in cream cheese or butter, you would certainly agree. I can go for all sorts of toppings and fillings — poppy seeds, minced onion, garlic, cheese, cranberries and nuts — but if the bagel’s not absolutely chewy, in the way only a standard New York deli bagel can be, then it’s not going into my mouth. Those might be harsh words to the bagel population, but so it is.

Truth be told, I’ve stepped foot exactly once into New York City (as in, out of the airport, into a hotel overnight and back to the airport in the morning), so I can’t say for sure that these bagels have the exact same taste and texture as their authentic counterparts. But I have stepped foot into many a deli selling the type and eaten many a bagel, and in my 25 years of existing and bagel-eating I can assure you that, based on experience, these are as close as I’ve ever gotten in my own kitchen to the versions I’ve tasted — especially in just a few hours.

I love not only the classic taste and texture rendered by this recipe, but the fact that it’s completely uncomplicated, as a good homemade bagel recipe should be. These things — so basic in form and flavor — shouldn’t take anyone longer than an afternoon to make. They shouldn’t require strange ingredients or methods. They should be simple and efficient. They should be able to hold up to the slice of a serrated knife or the tear of a hungry hand. They should taste delicious with compound butter, cream cheese or a layer of lox. And they should be able to, if only for a meal, cure a case of cabin fever.

These bagels do all of those things.

New York Deli-Style Bagels
Recipe adapted from The Sophisticated Gourmet

Yields: 8 bagels


2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water (110-115 degrees F)
3 1/2 cups bread flour, plus more as needed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

In a small bowl, add yeast, sugar and 1/2 cup of the warm water do not stir. Let mixture sit 5 minutes until yeast is foamy, then stir with a fork until yeast dissolves.

In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, stir together flour and salt. Make a well in the center add yeast mixture. Pour 1/2 of the remaining warm water into the bowl stir to combine. Mix, adding remaining water as needed until a smooth dough forms.

Knead dough by hand on a lightly floured countertop, adding more flour as needed until a stiff, firm but smooth and elastic dough forms, about 10 minutes OR, increase speed of stand mixer to medium and knead dough with a dough hook, adding more flour as needed until a stiff, firm but smooth and elastic dough forms, about 5-6 minutes. Shape dough into ball and place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour (PRO TIP: If your kitchen is chilly in the winter like mine is, put the bowl in the microwave, on top of a towel-lined heating pad on the lowest setting or in an unheated oven with the oven light turned on).

Once dough is doubled in size, punch down and let rest 10 minutes. Divide dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a smooth ball. Use your finger to poke a hole in the center of each ball, stretching the hole until it is as big as half the diameter of the entire bagel (it might look too big at first, but it will shrink when you boil/bake it). Place bagels on a lightly greased or silicone mat-lined baking sheet. Cover with a damp towel or lightly greased plastic wrap and let rest 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then reduce heat to just below a simmer. Using a slotted spoon, lower a few bagels at a time into the water. Allow bagels to float to the top. Leave bagels in the water 1-2 minutes, then flip over and leave in the water another 1-2 minutes (the longer they stay in the water, the chewier they become). Remove bagels with slotted spoon and return to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining bagels.

Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a cooling rack before slicing.

Lemon Poppy-Seed Bagels

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I have become quite fond of making bagels. It’s like when I first started making tortillas, the first few batches took a while to make, but now I can have 16 rolled out and cooked in less than 20 minutes.

Bagels were intimidating at first, but now I want to make them all the time. I shouldn’t #carboholic but I want to #likeIsaidcarboholic

Lucky for me, my kids eat them almost as fast as I can make them. Is there anything better than a warm, lightly toasted fresh bagel dripping with butter or slathered in cream cheese? I think not.

How I Determined the Best Bagels In Seattle

Thoroughly. I made a list of all the bagel shops in Seattle, researching to find as many as I could. Many I’d been to, but to truly compare them I purchased bagels from all of the shops, took comparative photos, tasted, and jotted down tasting notes.

Great bagels are all about the texture. Authentic New York-style bagels have a very distinct chew thanks to the process of boiling cooled dough before baking. This method gives bagels a thin crust with little bubbles rather than completely smooth skin. When you bite into it, it should be chewy and taste yeasty, but not so much so that it’s difficult on your jaw. For example, you shouldn’t have to fight it like a baguette.

Another argument New York-style bagel die-hards will stand behind is whether or not you have to toast the bagel. It’s said that great bagels shouldn’t require toasting in order to be good. I agree with this in theory, but I always enjoy toasting mine if I’m not eating it day of so that it warms my cream cheese. Purists will tell you the best way to toast bagels is to put them in the toaster directly from the freezer.

Below is a list of how all the bagel shops considered some of the best bagels in Seattle stack against each other.

Everyone Is Making These 5-Ingredient Bagels (No Yeast Required!) &mdash and We Tried Them

Sure, I miss my family and friends. But when social distancing is over, the first people I’m visiting are the employees at my local New York City bagel shop, whom I’ve been missing oh so dearly since the coronavirus crisis began. (But seriously — I haven’t had a proper bacon, egg and cheese in over a month.)

Yes, I know I could order a pre-packed bag and have them delivered from the grocery store, but there’s something about a hot and fluffy bagel straight out of the oven that you just can’t compete with.

That’s why I jumped at the chance to make my own when I heard my boyfriend’s mom raving about the soft-on-the-inside, crispy-on-the-outside bagels she made in 30 minutes using only five ingredients — one of which, surprisingly, was Greek yogurt. I was even more excited when I realized I already had the other ingredients in my kitchen (there’s no yeast required, so there’s a good chance you might too).

While there are a variety of different recipes online for five-ingredient, Greek yogurt bagels, I used this one from SkinnyTaste.com. I’m going to be honest: I’m not a baker, so I chose this particular recipe purely because it was the first one that popped up in my Google search. The photos on the site looked way tastier than what I expected for bagels made out of literal yogurt, so I went for it.

The yogurt, by the way, makes it so these bagels are lower in sugar, and higher in protein than your typical bagel. They’re big in the Weight Watchers community because they carry only 3 points each.

After setting the oven to 375°, I started by mixing a cup of flour with two teaspoons of baking powder and 3/4 teaspoon of salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl. I used a fork to stir, because I am lazy and didn’t want to wash a whisk, and, again, I am not a baker and have nothing to prove. (Note: I used regular, all-purpose flour, but other recipes say you can use gluten-free flour and get the same results.)

Next, I mixed in a cup of plain, Greek yogurt, making sure to pour out the excess liquid before dumping it in the mixing bowl. After a while, it became difficult to stir with the fork, so I washed my hands (for over 20 seconds, thank you very much), and went to town, smooshing the ingredients together with my fingertips. When it was all mixed together, it felt like your average cookie dough, but a little more crumbly.

I then took the dough to a floured surface and began to knead it, giving myself the only arm workout of this social distancing period to date. (In all honesty, I’m exaggerating — it was quite easy to do.) The recipe suggests about 15 turns, and to use enough flour to make sure your hands don’t have any dough stuck to them by the end.

After that, I separated the chunk of dough into four equal balls, and rolled each into little snakes using my palms. The recipe suggests rolling them into 𠇃/4-inch thick ropes” but I just eyeballed it and it worked out. I then created bagel shapes by looping the ropes and pinching the ends together. You really do have to squeeze and squish the ends, since the dough is no longer sticky. But if they look like bagels, you probably did it right! This particular recipe yielded four small bagels in total.

How to Make 2-Ingredient Bagels

Technically this recipe requires more than two ingredients considering you use an egg wash plus some seasonings. I used everything bagel seasoning because I love the salty, garlicky crunch it gives. But you could definitely go plain or create your favorite bagel flavor. I think adding some cinnamon and raisins to the dough would be lovely!

For the Bagels

  • 1 cup self-rising flour (Make your own self-rising flour blend by mixing 1 cup flour plus 1½ tsp. baking powder and ½ tsp. salt.)
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt (It can be full-fat or nonfat, but you want a brand that produces a thick, strained yogurt so you don&apost have a soggy dough.)

For the Topping


  1. Preheat oven to 350ய and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour and yogurt until combined. It will be sticky and crumbly.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, form the dough into a ball and knead for 3 to 5 minutes until it is no longer sticky, but rather smooth and elastic.
  4. Shape the dough into an even circle, then divide into four equal balls using a sharp knife or a dough scraper.
  5. Roll each ball into a rope that&aposs about 6 inches long, then pinch the ends together to make a bagel shape. Place each bagel on the prepared baking sheet, brushing with the egg and desired toppings.
  6. Bake approximately 25 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

A bit chewier than the average bagel, they&aposre not quite at bakery status. The Greek yogurt gives them a slightly tangy flavor, which reminds me of sourdough bread so I wasn&apost mad about it. I think slicing them and giving the inside a few minutes in the toaster with a shmear of cream cheese is the perfect way to enjoy these 2-ingredient bagels with my morning coffee. After you master this easy bagel recipe, bake up some more bread recipes or try your hand at focaccia art.