Thursday, November 13, 2014

eat | bagels

so i have this obsession. 
with bagels.

the chewy, denseness of a bagel drives me insane. and the cream cheese. jesus christ! i won't even get into that...

unnaturally, i needed to make some for myself ever since my obsession began earlier this year during our bike tour. since we are guided by zero waste living, i haven't been able to get myself to buy bagels because they usually come in a plastic (non-recyclable) bag. so months ago, i said i would make my own and i've finally gotten around to it. 

i looked around briefly for a recipe and found chow's and trusted it rather immediately for one reason: because they did the work by "baking nearly 100 bagels"... and they're "confident that [their] recipe produces the best in the west." awesome! i love their confidence.

the first time i tried the recipe, i rushed the process. the bagels came out a do you say...small and overcooked. the flavor was nice, but the experience of biting into a chewy bagel was lost. and that's at least 50% of the experience. below is chow's recipe, but structured and written in a way that made a little more sense to me.

step-by-step instructions

step 1
ingredients: 1 1/2 cups of water (100°F-105°F); 2 1/4 tsp of active dry yeast

place water in measuring cup and dissolve yeast, put aside.

step 2
ingredients: 4 cups of bread flour; 2 tbsp malt syrup; 2 tsp of salt; 4 tsp granulated sugar

combine and mix these ingredients together. then add the yeast mixture until the dough is "stiff, smooth, and elastic." since i do this all by hand, it takes about 8 minutes or so, to incorporate everything. i found the dough will be dry and somewhat stiff when it's ready for the next step.

step 3
shape the dough into a ball, place it into a large oiled bowl (i drizzle a little canola oil into a stainless steel bowl), and roll it around to coat the dough ball. cover the bowl with a damp flour sack and let it rise for about 20 minutes (i put the damp cloth right on the dough). place the bowl in a warm place in your home. after this first rise, it should be "noticeably puffy and spring back when you poke it." 

step 4
prepping your station
  • heat oven to 425°F (or 400°F in a convection oven) and place a rack in the middle of the oven. 
  • get something (a pot or shallow pan) that will hold about 2-3" of water and bring it to a boil. reduce it to a simmer and cover until the bagels are ready for their hot bath.
  • use a silicone liner (to reduce waste) and place on a baking sheet
  • set a metal cooling rack on another baking sheet, near the simmering water (you'll put your bagels on it after you fish them out)
  • get a small bowl of water ready for making bagels
step 5
get the risen dough on a clean and dry surface. divide it into 12 equal pieces. (i cut mine with a serrated knife.) place the dough pieces under that same damp cloth to keep it from drying out. 

step 6
get one dough chunk and roll it out to about 9 inches. moisten the two ends, overlap them, and press to join. (i found i needed to shape the ends so they form one cohesive uniformed circle.) widen the hole the size of a quarter. place it back under the damp cloth and let it rise for about 10 minutes. it won't get a ton bigger. repeat to the rest of the dough chunks.

step 7
by the time you're done with the 12th one, your first few will probably be ready to go in for their bath. stretch out the dough to maintain a hole (the size of a quarter). then place 3-4 into the simmering water. (you will likely need to raise the temperature of the water to maintain a simmer.) let them bob around for 30 seconds on each side. fish them out and place on the cooling rack. i used my iphone timer to help keep track of time. 
(ps. the oil in the pic below is remnant of the oil from the first rise.)

step 8
ingredients: 1 tbsp water; 1 egg white; toppings of your choice

whisk together the water and egg white and brush the egg wash all over the bagel. then, (the fun part), sprinkle with toppings of your choice. i used coarse sea salt and sesame seeds. 

step 9
place bagels on the lined baking sheet about an inch apart and bake for ~20-30 minutes. but rotate the pan after 15 minutes. (if you have a convection oven, you do not need to do this because the heat is even.) i highly recommend keeping an eye on your bagels to determine when it's time for them to come out. when it's a beautiful caramel color, it's ready!

step 10
cool down for ~30 minutes. i guess this is for letting the bagel continue cooking internally and for the outside to form a chewy crust. then EAT!

(ps. i forgot to widen the hole the second time, before boiling, so the holes....disappeared. oops!)

i never thought i'd make my own bagels, but they're pretty easy, fun, and tasty. definitely worth a try. thanks to for all their experimentation, so we don't have to. 

time for a bagel!!

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