Bagels

So I had a lot of cream cheese in my fridge left over from making frosting (that’s a whole other story) and what I love best with cream cheese is a bagel to smear it on.


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I just bought this book called The Bread Baker’s Apprentice and I decided to try the bagel recipe. It’s a really good book but he’s more of an artist with bread where the recipes call for 2 days not 4 hours. He believes that a slow rise in the fridge will produce more flavour in the bread. I’ve seen this a lot in other books, so I do believe him. But then sometimes I want bread for dinner and not dinner 2 days from now.

I couldn’t decide if I should post the recipe up because it’s from a book.. but then I found it already posted here so now I don’t feel so bad. I’ll post up what happened to me making these bagels.

These are pretty chewy bagels, they aren’t like the grocery store or even Tim Horton’s (Dunkin Donuts for others), I guess you would call them New York style bagels. Though I tried finding New York style bagels, and couldn’t. I ended up buying some from a shop at the train station claiming to be this style, but they tasted like plain ol’ normal bagels to me. These bagels, I am about to bestow upon you, are not as thick but chewy on the inside, thick-skinned/crunchy (if toasted) on the outside. I think they’re pretty damn good.

I’ve halved this recipe so I could make them fresh in the morning.

Bagels  (makes 6 big bagels)

The pre-ferment or sponge (brings out better flavour):

1/2 tsp instant dry yeast

2 cups bread flour (you want to use this for the chewiness!)

1 1/4 warm water (room temp)

Stir this all together and let sit, covered, for 2 hours until it gets bubbly and swells to almost double the size. (In many of his recipes, you stir in the yeast directly into the flour/water, fresh and instant can go straight in, but active dry yeast needs to be mixed with water first to activate).

I forgot to take a picture of the doubled sponge, but you can sort of see the outline on the bowl..

Dough

1/4 tsp instant dry yeast

little less than 2 cups of bread flour

1 1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tbsp malt syrup, honey, brown sugar (in this case I used honey)

cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting bottom ( I dusted it with cornmeal, and it gives it a slightly cooked corn taste if you like that kind of thing..)

Sesame seeds, salt, poppy seeds, dried onion, garlic, whatever you want to put on the bagel!

pot of boiling water + 1 tbsp baking soda

In the same bowl as the sponge, mix in the additional yeast and stir. Then add in 1 cup of the flour with all the salt. Slowly add the remaining flour until dough is stiff.

For bagels you don’t want a tacky dough (like for white bread) because they’re going to be boiled. So with stiff dough (no stick whatsoever!) it can hold its shape better when being handled and boiled. I actually used only a cup and a half to make it a pretty stiff dough, but I heard if you incorporate all the flour and knead it for at least 20 min.. they turn out better. This is me being lazy.. ah well, next time.

Knead the dough for at 10 min (or 6 with an electric mixer, that I do own but never use for bread making, I have to keep up my arm muscles..). It should feel satiny and pliable, smooth with no rips from dryness.

Divide the dough into 6 pieces (Or you could even divide them into 12 for tiny bagels). Shape into balls. Cover balls with a cloth and let sit for 20 minutes.

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Get a sheet pan ready with parchment paper and spray oil. I use the Pam stuff, it’s easy. You could probably use butter, or make your own spray oil. You just don’t want it sticking to the paper! (I started using spray oil after reading this book, makes life easier.)

Take one of your balls, and poke a hole through it with your thumb. Slowly rotate your thumb around the inside, stretching it out (try to make the sides even) to about 2 1/2 inches in diameter, but you don’t have to. I got mine to almost 2.


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He says to place them 2 inches apart on the pan.. mine were almost touching each other on my small cookie sheet.. Have at least an inch just in case they expand. Mine didn’t in the oven.

Place bagels on pan, mist lightly with oil and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 20 minutes.

“To check if the bagels are ready to be retarded in the fridge, fill a small bowl of water with cool/room temp water. Drop a bagel in, if it floats to the top under 10 seconds, it’s ready)” is what the book says. I tested this once, but not the second time, 20 minutes is pretty good time period (warm temp in the house). Then put them in the fridge, covered loosely in plastic wrap for overnight (or 8 hours at least) and up to 2 days. I usually make them during the afternoon then bake them in the morning.

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So when you are ready to bake them, preheat the oven to 500°F with the rack in the middle of the oven. Bring a large pot to a boil and then add the baking soda.

Remove bagels from the fridge. At this point he says you can immediately drop them in the boiling water but I did that the first time and I’m not sure if this was the cause, but my bagels came out too flat, too tough to eat. So the second time, I let them sit until they reached room temperature.

Drop as many as comfortably fit in boiling water with a slotted spoon/spatula and let it go for about a 1 minute each side (if you like extra chewy, boil for up to 2 minutes per side).

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While this is going on, dust the parchment paper with cornmeal/semolina where you will place the bagel on top.  When placed on the sheet pan, top the bagels with your fixings immediately (the water makes the fixings stick). I topped mine with sesame seeds and coarse salt. I’ve discovered salt bagels in the US but I haven’t been courageous enough to make them yet. They’re just topped with so much salt, your mouth burns and your blood pressure goes up. It’s a little crazy.

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So when all the bagels are ready, Bake for about 5 minutes, then rotate the pan 180°. After rotation, lower the temperature to 450°F and bake for another 5 minutes or until light golden brown. The first time I baked them for about 10 minutes at 450°F because I wanted them darker but that might also have been the cause for its toughness. They way he bakes it, it doesn’t turn too dark but it’s decently golden and baked all the way through.

So the second time, mine turned out slightly fatter but I haven’t noticed any oven spring from the baking process but I think the New York style bagels are usually skinnier.

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Spread some cream cheese on there, and eat up!

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