Bagel, like it rhymes with waggle

Posted on February 16, 2014

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This post is last since it was supposed to be a part of pin-along Saturdays with Tricia over at Farmish Momma, but I’ve never been good with deadlines, so I’m not sweating it now.

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I found a recipe for homemade bagels in this list of awesome looking breakfast foods over at A Beautiful Mess via someone on Pinterest, but I don’t know who because I didn’t repin it or bookmark it, so I actually had a difficult time relocating it to reference as my inspiration. But why would you care about that? I doubt you would.

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You should, however care about these bagels. I used the recipe from Brown Eyed Baker. May I just go ahead and say now that I had no idea how much work a bagel would be. I didn’t mind the work at all, but baking is definitely a stay-at-home-mom-type task for anything other than the most basic of breads, muffins, etc. These suckers too some time!

The ultimate difficulty with the time is that other than them resting in the fridge overnight, a lot of the time is in 20 minute intervals which doesn’t leave you much room to get much else accomplished aside from homey things like laundry, dishes, a few rows of knitting, etc. Thankfully, I am now a knitter, and so those 20 minutes intervals were put to good use while the husband was out wild foraging and kayaking with friends.

I like to use King Arthur flour. They’re a good quality flour and available at most usual supermarkets as well as organic supermarkets. We used some of our own honey and since I guesstimated on the amount, we probably put double what the recipe called for. I’ve never used malt powder and we prefer to use honey if that’s an alternative option in baking recipes anyway since it has nutrients that many other sweeteners don’t. My bagels also floated as soon as I put them in the water for the float test, and I entirely failed to test for the windowpane test since I don’t know what that is and usually I just go based on feel for dough. Anyone who has held good dough can get a decent sense of when their dough is ready – it truly is elastic, but will break if you yank on it, isn’t sticky or too tacky, but will stick just a bit to the kneading surface if you leave it for a little bit, and it’s smooth. The best way to get a feel for this is to make bread at least once a week for a while and you’ll learn when your dough is ready.

The only trouble I had with this recipe is that it seems my bagels didn’t poof very much and so they were a little more flat than I’m used to bagels being. This really was purely an aesthetic problem because while it was slightly harder to slice them, we still managed just fine and they tasted amazing regardless. Definitely a recipe worth trying.

Oh, also! The topping I used, since I disappointingly didn’t have any poppy seeds, was a mixture of sesame seeds and Himalayan pink salt. Very good.

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I traded ~half the batch (4 of 9, though I could’ve gotten 10 had I diminished the size of what ended up becoming the monster bagel down to half) with our friend Mary for some muffins and brownies. I love the barter system. Some of our best “buys” have come in that form.

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Mmm, delicious! Next time I’ll have to make a larger batch and freeze some.

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INGREDIENTS:
Sponge
1 teaspoon (.11 ounce) instant yeast
4 cups (18 ounces) unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
2 ½ cups (20 ounces) water, at room temperature

Dough
½ teaspoon (.055 ounces) instant yeast
3 ¾ cups (17 ounces) unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
2 ¾ teaspoons (.7 ounce) salt
2 teaspoons (.33 ounce) malt powder OR 1 tablespoon (.5 ounce) dark or light malt syrup, honey, or brown sugar

To Finish
1 tablespoon baking soda
Cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting
Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, kosher salt, rehydrated dried minced garlic or onions, or chopped fresh onions that have been tossed in oil (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
1. To make the sponge, stir the yeast into the flour in a 4-quart mixing bowl. Add the water, whisking or stirring only until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (like pancake batter). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly. It should swell to nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop.

2. To make the dough, in the same mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer), add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir. Then add 3 cups of the flour and all of the salt and malt. Stir (or mix on low speeds with the dough hook) until the ingredients form a ball, slowly working in the remaining ¾ cup flour to stiffen the dough.

3. Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for at least 10 minutes (or for 6 minutes by machine). The dough should be firm, stiffer than French bread dough, but still pliable and smooth. There should be no raw flour – all the ingredients should be hydrated. The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 to 81 degrees F. If the dough seems dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading. If the dough seems tacky or sticky, add more flour to achiever the stiffness required. The kneaded dough should feels satiny and pliable but not be tacky.

4. Immediately divide the dough into 4 ½ ounce pieces for standard bagels, or smaller if desired. Form the pieces into rolls.

5. Cover the rolls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for approximately 20 minutes.

6. Line 2 sheet pans with baking parchment and mist lightly with spray oil. Proceed with shaping the bagels.

7. Place each of the shaped pieces 2 inches apart on the pan. Mist the bagels very lightly with the spray oil and slip each pan into a food-grade plastic bag, or cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the pans sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

8. Check to see if the bagels are ready to be retarded in the refrigerator by using the “float test”. Fill a small bowl with cool or room-temperature water. The bagels are ready to be retarded when they float within 10 seconds of being dropped into the water. Take one bagel and test it. if it floats, immediately return the tester bagel to the pan, pat it dry, cover the pan, and place it in the refrigerator overnight (it can stay in the refrigerator for up to 2 days). If the bagel does not float, return it to the pan and continue to proof the dough at room temperature, checking back every 10 to 20 minutes or so until a tester floats. The time needed to accomplish the float will vary, depending on the ambient temperature and the stiffness of the dough.

9. The following day (or when you are ready to bake the bagels), preheat the oven to 500 degrees F with the two racks set in the middle of the oven. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (the wider the pot the better), and add the baking soda. Have a slotted spoon or skimmer nearby.

10. Remove the bagels from the refrigerator and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many comfortably fit (they should float within 10 seconds). After 1 minute flip them over and boil another minute. If you like very chewy bagels, you can extend the boiling to 2 minutes per side. While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the same parchment-line sheet pans with cornmeal or semolina flour. (If you decided to replace the paper, be sure to spray the new paper lightly with spray oil to prevent the bagels from sticking to the surface.) If you want to top the bagels, do so as soon as they come out of the water. You can use any of the suggestions in the ingredients list or a combination. I make a seed and salt blend.

11. When all the bagels have been boiled, place the pans on the 2 middle shelves in the oven. Bake for approximately 5 minutes, then rotate the pans, switching shelves and giving the pans a 180-degree rotation. (If you are baking only 1 pan, keep it on the center shelf but still rotate 180 degrees.) After the rotation, lower the oven setting to 450 degrees F and continue baking for about 5 minutes, or until the bagels turn light golden brown. You may bake them darker if you prefer.

12. Remove the pans from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving.

(Source: Peter Reinart The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, pages 115-122)

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