Sunday, May 23, 2010

Never Be Without: Bagels

First, let me just say that for the sake of my readers, I tried this recipe TWICE just to get it *right.* Any one out there that thinks I just type this stuff up without trying it is mistaken. Also, because I am trying all the stuff I post, sometimes I just run out of time in the course of a week to post everyday. It's true, dear readers, I'm human. Now on to some chewy bready goodness...

This recipe-unlike the MANY I have tried in the past- is ridiculously easy. It makes 10 nice sized bagels so there is plenty to freeze should you so desire, thus making the following effort even more worth while (as if making a decent homemade bagel isn't enough!)

I will also say that I tried this recipe with it's variations and I'm about to give you the best version. The recipe is called "Jo Goldenberg's parisian bagels" (there, I can't take credit); notice, please, that this isn't a true New York style bagel. Honestly, for that, you kinda need real NYC water--which is why their pizza dough is the best too. But it makes a good product so don't serve these, hat in hand.

The Recipe:
3 1/2 cups-5 cups of bread flour (I'm just telling you upfront that you'll need more for kneading the dough so make sure you have enough; also, I tried this with AP flour and, while ok, just wasn't *quite* the texture I was looking for)
2 pkg dry yeast
3 tbs sugar
1 tbs salt
1 1/2 cups hot water (120-130)

This is the dough. Beyond this, you'll want a large pot (3 quarts or so), filled with hot water and 2 tbs sugar; cornmeal to dust a sheet pan with to keep the boiled bagels from sticking to the pan; one egg whisked with a bit of water to brush on the bagels.

So, in a mixing bowl, add 3 1/2 cups of flour along with all the remaining dry ingredients and stir together. To this, pour in the hot water and stir with a wooden spoon until it comes together. The dough with probably be sticky and will need more flour. Be sure to add your flour in half-cup increments as the dough is kneading (either with a dough hook or by hand). I ended up adding an extra 1 1/2 cups by the end of the process. Knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes. It will feel soft and smooth and that's how you'll know you have helped the dough achieve the proper amount of gluten bonds that make it dense and chewy.

Spray a bowl, plop in the dough and spray the top of the dough to keep it from drying out. Cover with a towel and set in a warm place so the dough can double in size--about an hour.

Meanwhile, back at the batcave, sprinkle a generous amount of cornmeal on a large sheet pan (or two smalls if that's what you've got). Bring the pot of water to a boil and then turn down the heat so it's a slow simmer (little bubbles that aren't raging out of control).

When the dough is doubled, plop it out onto the counter and press it down so the extra air is out. (side note: the more times a yeast dough is "raised" the more, well, yeasty the flavor the bread has. In case you were wondering).
Cut the dough into 10 equal parts and roll each into a ball, wrapping the ends around and under the ball so there are no rough edges on the little ball (you don't want your bagels to have a complex, do you?). Poke a hole into the center, about the diameter of a half-dollar. Let these "rest" on a dusted surface, covered with a sheet of waxed paper for 15-20 minutes.

While your dough is "benching" or "resting," fire up the oven to 400. Set a towel next to the sheet pan you've prepared--you'll be using it to catch any extra water as it comes out of the boiling water.

Here we go--first, scoop up the raw bagel and place it on a slotted spoon (or spider if you have one). *Carefully* drop the bagel into the simmering water, flipping it over after 30 seconds. When both sides are boiled, scoop up with the spoon, resting it on the towel briefly to catch any excess water and then place the bagel on the prepared sheet pan. Repeat with remaining bagels.

With a pastry brush, lightly brush the bagels with the egg wash you made. This ensures the bagels brown evenly, gives more texture to the crust, and--if you want them--helps keep any toppings on the dough (like sesame seeds, poppy seeds, kosher salt or diced onions).

Into the oven they go! After 15 minutes, rotate the pan for even baking. Bake for a total of 25-30 minutes, then let cool (if you can wait that long). While the bagel is hot, it won't seem like it has that "bagely" texture. Let them fully cool before you access the damage, ok. Also, be sure to cool them completely before bagging any up to freeze.

Voila! Hope you enjoy these. And considering that bagels are going for about $3+ a sleeve anymore, these babies are worth the effort.


Anonymous said...

What? YOu make bagels too? What can't you do?

betty crocker said...

be a principle

Anonymous said...

Oh, my dear, tis a simple job. Really, somedays I think, "This is it. Really?"

betty crocker said...

Uh, I think there was a *bit* of schooling involved there so, no, I couldn't. :D