Bagels have been on my "To Bake" list for some time now. Ever since I realized this was something you COULD do at home, it's been hanging out in the back of my mind as something to try. But I kept putting it off. There are a lot of steps involved in bagel-making, which made it somewhat intimidating. Not to mention the fact that you really need two days from start to finish. Time is always an issue with me an bread-baking, so I was always thinking "maybe next weekend..."
Enter Father's day weekend. My dad is a diabetic with a pretty terrible sweet tooth. He's constantly trying to sneak sugar and other things he can’t eat when no one's paying attention. White bread products are an issue. He refuses to eat whole wheat bread and loves cinnamon raisin bagels even though the store-bought variety is chock-full of sugar.
Anyway, I figured that I'd be in Ancaster for two days with no real plans. Why not make my own bagels with (some) whole wheat flour and less sugar so that my dad could enjoy them without guilt?
I started these on Saturday evening and finished them Sunday morning. I followed mostly the Smitten Kitchen version of Peter Reinhart's bagel recipe.
Let me just say, I was SO excited about finally making my own bagel during the entire process. So excited in fact, that I may have deliriously made some adjustments to the recipe that probably weren’t a great idea. Like substittuing the malt syrup with molasses. The recipe specified malt power OR syrup OR brown sugar. I didn’t have the first two, but I had just bought some molasses and I figured...brown sugar is sugar WITH molasses...why not? This didn’t turn out terribly but the molasses definitely added their own flavour that wasn’t exactly bagel-y. And deciding that lining my pans with flour instead of cornmeal was okay (I only did this for the proofing and refrigeration, on Sunday morning I realized that my parents DID have cornmeal and used that for the baking step). The flour stuck to the dough and made white clumps form on some of the bagels during the boiling step. But anyway, overall the bagels did turn out quite well. They were a bit flatter than I would have liked, and I probably won’t use molasses next time. But the flavour was still quite nice and the bagels were so nicely chewy and soft. Plus, the cinnamon raisin ones tasted great. And I finally made BAGELS!
1 ½ tsp active dry yeast
4 cups bread flour
2 ½ cups room temperature water
½ tsp active dry yeast
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 ¾ cups bread flour
2 ¾ tsp salt
2 tsp malt powder OR 1 tbsp dark or light malt syrup, honey, or brown sugar (I used molasses...)
I split the dough in half and added also:
1 cup california raisins
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp brown sugar
a bit more molasses for that "swirl" look
Cornmeal or semolina for dusting
1. Make the sponge: combine yeast and water, stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and whisk until you have a thick pancake-batter like consistency. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for about 2 hours, or until it has at least doubled in size and is bubbly.
2. Stir in the remaining yeast, then 3 cups of the remaining flour. Stir until the ingredients form a ball. I will say that if you’re doing this by hand (as I was) this is pretty hard. You’re going to have to put some muscle into it to really get a ball going. I gave up pretty quickly and just started mixing witih my hands until I pretty much had a ball.
3. Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured countertop and knead for at least 10 minutes (I ended up kneading for about 15). Knead in the remaining ¾ cup of flour to stiffen as you go. The dough should be smooth and not too tacky by the time you’re done, and feel fairly stiff. A few minutes into the kneading I also split my dough and added the ingredients for cinnamon raison bagels to half of the dough.
4. Divide the dough into 4 ½ ounce pieces, or smaller if desired (I did 3 ounces)
5. Cover the dough balls with a damp cloth and let rest about 20 minutes
6. Lightly grease a few cookie sheets with oil, and sprinkle with cornmeal (this is where i made that flour error: do not repeat my mistake)
7. Shape bagels: Just take the balls, poke a hole through with your thumb and widen gently untli they look like bagels. I didn’t measure mine so I’m not exactly sure how large they were.
8. Place bagels on the cookie sheets, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 20-30 minutes at room temperature
9. At this point, you’re supposed to do the “float test” to make sure that they float. Take a bagel and drop into warm/room temperature water and see if it floats within 10 seconds. Though I’ve read at a few places that they didn’t do this (or let the dough rest at all before refrigerating) and the bagels floated fine, so I’m not sure just HOW necessary this step is.
10. Refrigerate bagels for 12-24 hours
11. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. You’re going to want to use your widest pot for this so that you can fit in as many bagels as possible at a time. I ended up using a deep wok because it was wider than any pot that my mom had, and it seemed easier than using a deep pot. I had no issues.
12. Add 1 tsbp of baking powder to boiling water
13. Boil bagels for 1-2 minutes per side, in batches. I think I ended up boiling for about a minute and a half per side. Remove with a slotted spoon and place back on baking sheets lined with cornmeal. If you’re adding any more toppings at this point, do it immediately after removing from the water so that the toppings stick.
14. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees farenheit for 5 minutes, rotate 180 degrees and continue baking for another 5 minutes. I think I baked for about another 5 minutes because they weren’t so dark by the end of this.
15. Let cool for about 15 minutes before serving.