Bagel Bagel Bo Bagel

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I love to bake! I pretty much love to bake all kinds of things, but when it comes down to it, I don’t think there’s anything much more gratifying then making bread from scratch. I made bagels for the first time years ago when I first started getting into bread making, they were blueberry and from what I remember, pretty damn good. For some reason, after my first attempt, I never ventured into the realms of bagel making again.  Until this past weekend that is! I don’t know if it I saw something on someone’s blog or something on tv but sometime during October I got this strong desire to whip some up; mofo finally came to an end and still the craving was there. Well what else could I do but give in?

I got up Sunday morning and started going to town mixing up dough. I originally was planning on adding in some whole wheat flour but got distracted (which seems to be becoming a regular occurrence) and only used white, although maybe not as healthy, the end results were de-licious! Perfectly chewing and full of flavour. This recipe requires the bagels to have an overnight sleepover in the fridge and although you can decrease the amount of time, I don’t recommend it. Having the dough rest for a long period of time is where it gets all its wonderful flavour.

Since I like a little variety in my life, I not only made bagels, but three different kinds of bagels! I originally wanted to make an Everything bagel but after taking a look in the pantry and only finding dried onion flakes and sesame seeds, I figured I’d save that one for another day. Instead I stuck to the good old reliable sesame sprinkled plain:

Plain Bagels

I added some sugar, cinnamon and raisins to make a delicious classic:

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

And for something slightly different, I made cranberry, cherry, vanilla bagels:

Cranberry Cherry Vanilla Bagels

It was a tough call but out of the 3, the cinnamon raisin bagels were my fav. The cinnamon and raisins complemented the lightly sweetened bagel perfectly. So. Freakin’. Good.  Now you’re probable thinking, why would I want to go through all the trouble of making bagels when I can just buy them? Well, if you have the convenience of grabbing a fresh Montreal-style (or New York-style for all you yankies) bagel from someplace nearby, then yeah, the thought of making bagels at home may not appeal to you. But let me tell you, the satisfaction of making one of these tasty morsels at home outweighs any form of convenience you may encounter. For one, they’re way cheaper to make at home, $4.00 for a bagel? To hell with that! Secondly, you know exactly what went into each bagel, simple ingredients, no additives, you even know how much of your blood, sweat and tears went into it (not literally of course! Unless you want to be eating all your bagels alone, that is). Thirdly, you can play around to your hearts content. Add different fruits, spices, toppings, whatever you’d like. Don’t like those big honkin’ bagels you get at the store, make smaller ones. Like cinnamon but don’t like raisins? Leave them out. See?  It’s that easy.

When it comes to bagels I’ve always been a jam girl but you can jazz them however you like. The plain variety make the perfect base for a delicious sandwich or keep them simple with a warmed pat of margarine or even slather them with hummus, mmmm, I could totally go for a hummus bagel right now. No matter how you like them, trust me when I say that they won’t last long.

Homemade Bagels
Makes 12 large bagels
Adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice

Sponge Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon (0.11 ounces) instant yeast
  • 4 cups (18 ounces) unbleached bread flour
  • 2 1/2 cups (20 ounces) water, at room temperature

Dough Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon (0.11 ounces) instant yeast
  • 3 3/4 cups (17 ounces) unbleached bread flour
  • 2 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons malt powder
 OR 
1 tablespoon malt syrup, agave or brown sugar

To Finish:

  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • Cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting

Variations:

Plain: After boiling, while bagels are still wet, sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds before baking

Cinnamon Raisin: Add 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 1/2 cups loosely packed raisins rinsed in warm water to the dough during the last few minutes of kneading.

Cranberry Cherry Vanilla: Add 1 tablespoon vanilla, 3 tablespoons agave, 3/4 cup dried cranberries and 3/4 cup dried cherries to the dough during the last few minutes of kneading.

Directions:

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. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or untiil 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.

To make the dough, in the same mixing bowl, add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir. Then add 3 cups of the flour and all of the salt, malt, sugar and cinnamon. Stir (or mix on low speed with the dough hook) until the ingredients form a ball, slowly working in the remaining 3/4 cup flour to stiffen the dough.

Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for at least 10 minutes (or for 6 minutes by machine), adding any spices or dried fruit during the final 3 minutes. The dough should be very firm, 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°F. If the dough seems too dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading. If the dough seems tacky or sticky, add more flour to achieve the stiffness required. The kneaded dough should feel satiny and pliable but not be tacky.

Immediately divide the dough into 12 pieces (about 4½-ounce  each) for standard bagels. Form the pieces into rolls. Cover the rolls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for approximately 20 minutes.

Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper and mist lightly with spray oil. Shape the bagels in one of the following two ways:

Poke a hole in a ball of bagel dough and gently rotate your thumb around the inside of the hole to widen it to approximately 2½ inches in diameter. The dough should be as evenly stretched as possible. I found this way to be the easiest. 

Or, roll out the dough into an 8-inch-long rope. Wrap the dough around the palm and back of your hand, between the thumb and forefinger, overlapping the ends by several inches. Press the overlapping ends on the counter with the palm of your hand, rocking back and forth to seal.

Place each of the shaped pieces 2 inches apart on the pans. 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.

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 or 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.

The following day (or when you are ready to bake the bagels), preheat the oven to 500°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.

Remove the bagels from the refrigerator and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many that will comfortably fit. After 90 seconds flip them over and boil for another 90 seconds. 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-lined sheet pans with cornmeal or semolina flour.

When all the bagels have been boiled, place the pans on the 2 middle shelves in the oven. Bake for 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 450F and continue baking for about 5 minutes, or until the bagels turn light golden brown. You may bake them darker if you prefer.

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

Submitted to Yeastspotting hosted by Tartine Bread Experiment 

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