12 February 2012

Homemade Bagels

Next on my list of baking goals was the bagel. I'm a big fan of bagels and after our bagel experience in NYC, I couldn't satisfy my bagel craving with pretty much anything in Portland. Kettleman Bagels are pretty good, but I just heard they were bought by Noah's, so there goes that option.

Remember a couple posts ago how I was talking about baking not being that hard? And how I made the prediction that the baking gods would somehow smite me for this statement? They tried. I started making the dough for our plain bagels on Friday night as they need 12-18 hours in the refrigerator before baking. Shawn came home from his haircut and scared the crap out of me because I was listening to Wild Flag just a little too loud and didn't hear him come in. So my attention span was already limited. Then I made the ultimate mistake of trying to carry on a conversation while following my recipe. Somehow I missed the part where the barley malt syrup goes in with the flour, yeast and salt right in the beginning. My dough was taking forever to come together, so I was adding a little more water, bit by bit, in order to hydrate it enough, thinking that I had just incorrectly measured my dry ingredients. It was about then that I realized I hadn't used the syrup yet. So, the dough has already started to come together when I finally did and I had to pour the syrup on it. My mixer couldn't really handle it at that point, so I had to pull the whole thing out and knead it by hand--something the recipe warns against doing due to the stiff nature of the dough. I had no choice though, so I pulled it out and started kneading it until it resembled what I assumed it should look like.

Resume recipe...After cutting the dough into 8 parts and waiting for 5 minutes for the dough to rest, I started to roll out the rings. Unfortunately, the lack of strength in my hands due to my desk job and kneading the stiff dough, my right hand started cramping and rolling out the dough into 11-inch ropes proved to take a little longer than expected. There's also a tricky part of getting the ends to come together and stay together so it forms a nice ring that won't fall apart when you dunk it into water the next day. I found that wrapping one end around the other and then pinching the dough helped secure it in place. Finally I was done and ready to finish off my bottle of sparkling wine as a reward for my hard work.

I woke up the next day giddy to get going on the boiling and baking part. Before boiling, you need to let the bagels sit at room temperature for 20 minutes, boil the water, and get the oven and baking stone (if using) heated to 450. I chose to use my baking stone, although just barely big enough for all 8 bagels, in order to ensure crispy bottoms. You can use a baking sheet lined with parchment paper if you don't have a stone and can even heat up the baking sheet in the oven, as well.

My cameraman would have been more useful in helping me keep these submerged than taking pictures
Take that baking gods! I win!

Letting them cool is torture...I couldn't sit still for a good 20 minutes

Lovely structure and chew provided by using King Arthur bread flour with an ounce of Bob's Red Mill high gluten flour
This was a fun project for me and one I'll definitely be playing with again. I am hoping to figure out a good recipe for cranberry bagels as I haven't been able to find them since college. But, if you're not really in the mood to spend $7 on barley malt syrup, $7 on high gluten flour, and you're in the Portland area, I understand Blackheart Bagels makes a mean bagel. For those of you who do want to make them...

Plain Bagels
Cook's Illustrated

Because bagel dough is much drier and stiffer than bread dough, it takes longer for the ingredients to cohere during mixing. For this same reason, we recommend that you neither double the recipe nor try to knead the dough by hand. Most good natural foods stores carry barley malt syrup. High-gluten flour might be more difficult to find. You can order both the syrup and the flour from the King Arthur Flour Baker's Catalogue.

4 cups high-gluten flour (Carmel's note: King Arthur's website says it's about 14% protein)
2 teaspoons table salt
1 tablespoon barley malt syrup or powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast 1 1/4cups water (lukewarm, 80 degrees)
3 tablespoons cornmeal, for dusting baking sheet
1/2 cup topping ingredients (optional), see step 7 for suggestions

1. Mix flour, salt, and malt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with dough hook. Add yeast and water; mix at lowest speed until dough looks scrappy, like shreds just beginning to come together, about 4 minutes. Increase to speed 2; continue mixing until dough is cohesive, smooth, and stiff, 8 to 10 minutes.

2. Turn dough on to work surface; divide into eight portions, about 4 ounces each. Roll pieces into smooth balls and cover with towel or plastic wrap to rest for 5 minutes, (see illustration 1, below).

3. Form dough balls into dough rings (illustrations 2 through 4), place on cornmeal-dusted baking sheet, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight (12 to 18 hours).

4. About 20 minutes before baking, remove dough rings from refrigerator. Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Fill large soup kettle with 3-inch depth of water; bring to rapid boil. To test the proofing of the dough rings, fill large bowl with cool water. Drop dough ring into bowl; it should float immediately to surface (if not, retest every 5 minutes).

5. Working four at a time, drop dough rings into boiling water, stirring and submerging loops with Chinese skimmer or slotted spoon (illustration 5), until very slightly puffed, 30 to 35 seconds. Remove rings from water; transfer to wire rack, bottom side down, to drain.

6. Transfer boiled rings, rough side down, to parchment paper--lined baking sheet or baking stone. Bake until deep golden brown and crisp, about 14 minutes. Use tongs to transfer to wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

7. To Top: Topping ingredients stick to the bagels best when applied to the dough rings just as they come out of the boiling water, while still wet and sticky from boiling, (illustration 6). Options include: raw sesame seeds, poppy or caraway seeds, dehydrated onion or garlic flakes, or sea or kosher salt. You can also combine toppings. For example, use 2 tablespoons each of sesame and poppy seeds and 1 tablespoon each of caraway seeds, sea or kosher salt, dehydrated onion flakes, and dehydrated garlic flakes.

1 comment:

  1. You definitely won! I fell off the face of the earth the past couple weeks but am so glad I came across this post. Your bagels look textbook perfect despite the initial snafus. Bagel making (or bread basking of any kind) is so rewarding, especially when the results look like that!