24 March 2010

bagel bagel bagel bagel.

It's hard to recall when my love affair with bagels began. As far as I'm concerned I entered the world with a bagel in my hand. {Mom, perhaps you can clear up any confusion here?} But, in the past few years when scanning my grocery store shelves, I've found only gigantic buns with holes in them staring back at me. Even the bagel shops in my city featured bread-like, cookie-cuttered impostors, chock full of add-ins like raisins, cheddar, jalapenos and everything else under the sun.

People. I just want a bagel! A palm-sized, slightly misshapen, chewy little gem ready to be sliced open, toasted and slathered with butter (or, maybe cream cheese with tomato and cuke slices perched on top *drool*).

So, when my friend and baking mentor announced she would be producing homemade bagels (!) from her paradise of a kitchen, I nearly stroked out. The only thing that excited me more was sampling
one of her perfect, sesame topped wonders with my morning coffee. "I want more!" was all my stomach could squeak out; so with borrowed recipe in hand, I tied on my apron and set to work.

bagels, baby!

 {recipe borrowed - with love - from A at kempt kitchen}

{the stuff}

For the sponge:
1 tsp instant yeast
4 cups unbleached bread flour (or high gluten flour)
2 1/2 cups water

For the dough:
1/2 tsp instant yeast
3 cups bread flour (or high gluten flour) 
(up to 3/4 cup more, if needed)
2 3/4 tsp salt

To top it all off:
Sesame seeds
Poppy seeds
Rock salt
Egg wash, if you choose to swing that way

{how to do it}

Day One:

For the sponge, stir the yeast into the flour in a large bowl. Add the water and whisk until you've formed a smooth, sticky batter (just a bit thicker than pancake batter). Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for around 2 hours.  The mixture should become quite foamy and bubbly and swell to nearly double it's size.

Once the sponge is ready, add the additional yeast and stir well. Then add 3 cups of the flour and the salt. Other recipes instruct you to now stir with a dough hook, but A and I both found our hands to work just fine. As you stir, add as much of the extra 3/4 cup flour as needed. I bailed after 1/4 cup; my dough was perfect at that point.

Knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes, until it is firm (and your arms are aching!). Other recipes suggest the dough is ready when "firm, stiffer than French bread dough" *blank stare*, or "pliable and smooth" and "satiny, but not tacky." If your dough is ready, there should be no dry flour and everything should be blended to perfection. Add more water or flour if the dough is too dry or moist. When your dough passes the windowpane test, you're ready to go.

Divide the dough into balls. I highly recommend weighing your dough balls.  I do not own a scale (a situation which will soon be remedied,) so I decided going with my gut was ok.  Not. Ok. I
ended up with monster bagels! These guys rise! A suggests 65 grams as an appropriate per bagel weight, and I defer to her. Place the dough balls on a parchment covered baking sheet and cover with a warm, damp tea towel. Let them rest for approximately 20 minutes before uncovering. 

It's time to roll. Take each ball and roll it into a sluggy worm shape, about 2/3 the thickness as your bagels will eventually be, and a bit longer than the width of your hand. Wrap the worm around your hand, joining the two ends in your palm, and roll your hand back and forth on the countertop to seal them. Return your shaped dough to the baking sheet, lightly oiling the parchment.  Cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for another 20 minutes at room temperature.

It is now time for the "float test". Drop each bagel into a bowl of room temperature water and wait for it to float. If the bagel surfaces within 10 seconds, you're ready to go. If your bagels are reluctant to come up for air, let them rest another 10 minutes, and try again. When they're ready, dry the bagels off and park the trays in the fridge overnight.

Day Two:

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F with the two racks set in the middle, and bring a large pot of water to a boil. In small batches drop the bagels into the water and boil for one minute on each side. The longer you boil them, the chewier your bagels will be. I think I will extend the boiling time a bit on my next batch... as I like a super chewy bagel.

Once the bagels are boiled, put them back on the oiled parchment on your baking sheets. Bake for 5 minutes then rotate the pans 180 degrees and back for an additional 5 minutes or until golden - mine took about 11-13 minutes in total.

If you like, brush the tops wish egg wash at the halfway point and sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds (or my favorite, rock salt) before rotating and returning to the oven. When the bagels are golden, take them out of the oven and let cool for as long as you can keep your hands off them.

Then butter those babies up, and take a bite!

Happy bagel-ing!!
x. {B}

No comments:

Post a Comment