Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Homemade Bagels

The entire way through the process of making these bagels, I was convinced they would fail.  The starter didn't seem wet enough, the dough appeared too stiff, it didn't rise as much as I thought it should and the bagels had odd crevices on the surface. I kept telling Bryant that it wouldn't be any good.  However, I felt compelled to continue, hoping they would turn out okay.  And they did...more than just okay, these bagels were great.  While I didn't get a perfect rise out of them (there seems to be a curse on our home of getting a proper rise in yeast products), these bagels ended up crusty on the outside with a chewy inside.  And knowing exactly what is in them (water, yeast, salt and flour) just seems to make them taste that much better and better for you.  Goodbye, grocery store bagels.

Making bagels, while not difficult, did quite a few steps.  You start the recipe the night before and have to check on the recipe several times the next day. However, if you happen to be hanging around at home for a day, these are easy and cheap to make.  I topped ours with poppy seeds which seem to have varying success in sticking to the bagel (I think our kitchen will be covered in a thin film of poppy by the time we finish this batch).

Homemade Bagels
Taken from: King Arthur Flour (For step-by-step pictures, see King Arthur's blog here)
Makes 12 bagels

  • 1/2 cup (2 1/8 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour (I used King Arthur all-purpose flour)
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) cool water
  • pinch of yeast 
  • 4 cups (17 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour (I used King Arthur all-purpose flour)
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) cool water
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
Water bath 
  • water to fill a 10"-diameter pan about 1" deep
  • 1 tablespoon non-diastatic malt powder or brown sugar

  1. Combine the starter ingredients in a medium-sized bowl, cover, and let rest at room temperature overnight.
  2. Next day, combine the puffy starter with all of the dough ingredients and knead—by hand, electric mixer, or bread machine—to form a stiff but not dry dough (I had to add a little extra water to get the right consistency). Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl or large (at least 8-cup) measuring cup, cover, and set it aside to rise for 1 hour. Gently deflate the dough, and let it rise for another 30 minutes.
  3. Transfer the dough to a work surface, and divide it into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth, round ball. Cover the balls with plastic wrap, and let them rest for 30 minutes. They'll puff up very slightly.
  4. While the dough is resting, prepare the water bath by heating the water and malt (or sugar) to a very gentle boil in a wide-diameter (about 10") pan. A 10" electric frying pan works well here. Preheat your oven to 425°F.
  5. Use your index finger to poke a hole through the center of each ball, then twirl the dough on your finger to stretch the hole till it's about 2 inches in diameter (the entire bagel will be about 3 ½" across). Place each bagel on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, and repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
  6. Transfer the bagels, four at a time if possible, to the simmering water. Increase the heat under the pan to bring the water back up to a gently simmering boil, if necessary. Cook the bagels for 2 minutes, flip them over, and cook 1 minute more. Using a skimmer or strainer, or the end of a wooden spoon, remove the bagels from the water and place them back on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining bagels.
  7. Bake the bagels for 20-25 minutes, or until they're as deep brown as you like. To top with seeds, remove them from the oven after about 15 minutes, spray with water and sprinkle with seeds. Return to the oven to finish baking. Remove the bagels from the oven, and cool completely on a rack.


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