Monday, December 28, 2009

Holy Bagels Batman!

Mix them, knead them, boil them, bake them, bagels have always appeared to be so hard to make.  I always safely went for the store bought kind until yesterday, when I came across the "Boiled Bagel" recipe in an old Hadassah Cookbook called "Sharing Our Best."  I realized that with a few modern convienences the bagels might not be such a challenge.  If you read through my process, you will be rewarded with an updated bagel recipe at the end.

A big turn off with the original recipe, written in 1970, was the 20 minutes of kneading after the dough was mixed by hand with a fork.  Despite many recent workouts at the gym, my arms are just too wimpy for that, plus, I've got things to do, like arm exercises.  I opted to try mixing and kneading with my Kitchen-aid mixer and boy, did that make the job easier.  I let the dough rise right in the mixing bowl. Then, I shaped the dough directly on my clean, lightly floured granite countertops.  *Note: I'm not trying to brag about my mixer and counters, I just want to show how the convienences of the modern kitchens can make this recipe flow. 

The next problem was how would I boil these things?  The recipe said to use a wide pan.  What does that mean?  My big frying pan seemed to shallow and my soup pots were all deep, but not wide enough. I used a wok.  It turned out to be a good choice.  I could fit four to five bagels in it at a time.  You only need to boil the bagels for a minute.  I used metal tongs and a flat turkey fork to pull the bagels out.  The recipe said to use a flat metal whisk, but I don't have one. *Tip my birthday is coming soon ; )
The recipe then said to drain the bagels on foil, so I laid out some foil on a wire cooling rack.  This worked out because I could add the toppings at this stage and they all stayed neatly on the foil.

I laid the cooling rack right next to my wok on the top of the stove.  I found that it worked best to keep the steps of the bagel making in one straight line in the kitchen.  The Kitchen Aid was by the sink, then the shaping station was next, the wok was right next to that, the cooling rack was next to the wok, and lastly the greased cookie sheet was at the end of the line. 

Here is a picture of the shaped dough with toppings.  I used Sesame Seeds, Rock Salt, and Chopped Onion. This is the most fun part, get creative with the toppings.  You can see how the bagels brown baking in the oven. 
I made two cookie sheets worth from my recipe and got about 18 bagels; you may notice from the pictures, not all of my bagels were the traditional torus shape, some were pretzels, some were bagel nubs. This is the delightful finished product. A day later, these are all gone.

And now... As promised:  
(makes 18-24)
5 1/2 Cups of All Purpose Flour
2 Packets of Yeast
1/4 Cup Sugar
Warm Water
2 Eggs, beaten
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Tbsp Salt
Toppings - Your choice, may include: Chopped Onions (dried or fresh), Sesame Seeds, Poppy Seeds, Garlic, Rock Salt, Fresh Parmesan Cheese, Cinnamon and Sugar, Sunflower Seeds, etc.
To Mix:
Sift, or if you don't have a sifter, like me, (*TIP, did I mention my birthday?) shake the flour out into your electric mixing bowl.  If you have one, put a dough hook on the mixer.  Make a well in the middle of the flour pile and add in the yeast. Put the sugar and 1/2 cup warm water in the well.  Let the yeast bubble a bit and then mix slowly for about 5-10 minutes.  Add in the beaten eggs, oil, salt, and 1 more cup of warm water.  Mix and knead in the mixer for 10-15 minutes.  Add a few tablespoons of water as you go if the dough is too dry. Every once in a while stop the mixer and scrape the sides and pull the dough off the hook so it mixes better.  The dough should be smooth and elastic. 
Cover the bowl with a clean dishtowel to let the dough rise for about 20-30 minutes.
Before you start shaping, fill your wok with water and a dash of salt and heat on a high heat.  You need a rolling boil for the bagels to cook properly.  It would also be a good time to preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
To Shape: 
If you have two cookie sheets, you can shape the dough all at once, but if you don't, split the dough and let half rise more while you shape and bake the first batch. Lightly flour a clean surface, a cutting board or a smooth countertop will do nicely.  Knead half of the dough to release any air bubbles. Divide into about 9 pieces.  Shape each piece into a rope about 8 inches long.  Cross the ends of the rope and wrap the rope under, tucking in the ends.  Press firmly so the bagel holds its shape.  You can also try other shapes, like a pretzel, or a bagel stick if you prefer.  Let rise until they have increased in size and are fairly light.
To Boil:
Make sure your wok is ready with the water boiling rapidly.  With floured hands, drop 4-5 bagels into the water.  Boil for 1 minute.  Remove from wok with tongs and a flat wire wisk or turkey fork.  Place on foil to drain. 
While the bagels are on the draining rack, get creative with your favorite toppings. Sprinkle whatever you choose on the bagels while they are still wet.
To Bake: 
Transfer topped bagels to a greased cookie sheet; Pam or Spray Olive Oil will work well for fast greasing.
Put the cookie sheet in the preheated 400 degree oven.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden.


Son of Food said...

That's great! I just made bagels about a week ago, and I make them every so often.

A few suggestions--

Sir Lancelot flour from King Arthur is excellent for bagels. It's an extra high-protein bread flour. I order it online from . It may seem a bit insane to pay to ship flour, but they have a good shipping calculator to optimize the shipment and keep the cost down, and once you're on their mailing list, you can wait for their periodic free shipping offers usually with a modest minimum order.

Instead of rolling into a long cigar and making them into circles, make the dough into a ball, poke your thumb through the center, and stretch into a bagel shape for seamless bagels.

I like to shape them on a baking sheet and leave the sheet in the fridge overnight, then take them out in the morning to rise before boiling. This lets the dough ferment somewhat, the skin toughens a bit, and you get to have bagels in the morning, when it's time for bagels.

Modern innovation: put the bagels on a Silpat on the baking sheet, so they're easy to take off when you want to boil them, and you can put them right back on the Silpat to bake.

I don't boil so long. I find 15 seconds on a side is enough to get the skin tougher so that it has the consistency of a bagel without cooking the dough too much, so the bagels will rise more in the oven.

Family of Food said...

Thanks for the tips Son of Food! I believe King Arthur Flour is available from our local Whole Foods. I may have to do the overnight thing. I already want to do another batch.

Son of Food said...

I can get some of the King Arthur flours locally, but there are quite a few more on the website, if you don't find it at WF.

Nanny of Food said...

These are ryummy. That is all.

MandiCrocker said...

Oh my gosh, I should NOT be reading any of this. DOF, lovin' these recipes & pictures- I feel like you're really uppin' the ante!!! YOU GO GIRL! :)

MandiCrocker said...

p.s. And I ESPECIALLY like the title of this blog. :)

Family of Food said...

Thank you, thank you everybody.

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