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.
the chewy, denseness of a bagel drives me insane. and the cream cheese. jesus christ! i won't even get into that...
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 little...how 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.
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.
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.
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."
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
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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!
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 chow.com for all their experimentation, so we don't have to.
time for a bagel!!
time for a bagel!!