Is there anything better than the smell of bread baking in the oven? Of course there is. But not much.
I fancy myself a baker more than a cook, but it isn’t until recently that I’ve been widening my baking horizon to include breads along with the typical muffins and cookies. I chose to try bagels, partially for the experience, but also because I haven’t found any here that I like that are less than $1 each. I figure if I could make at least decent bagels for something like 10 cents each then my expected complicated endeavor would be worthwhile.
3 1/2 cups (429 grams) bread flour
3 1/2 cups (429 grams) whole wheat flour
2 1/4 cups (515 grams) water
1 1/3 tablespoon (17 grams) kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon (3 grams) instant yeast
Mix all ingredients until mixture comes together, then mix on first speed for 3 minutes. It will be a very stiff dough. Mix on second speed for 3 more minutes. When kneading is complete the dough should be very strong with full gluten development (do the windowpane test).
Grease your mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Put in a warm place to rise for 1-2 hours. Get all of your supplies ready – a damp tea towel, a food scale, a dough divider, and a sheet pan.
Divide dough into 14 equal portions of 3.5 ounces each, and place each dough ball under the damp towel to keep from developing a crust. Take out one ball at a time, and create a smooth surface before rolling out. Roll each dough ball with your hands to make a snake 6-8 inches in length. Then create a loop around your fingers with the dough snake, and pinch the two ends together to make the bagel. Roll together lightly, and place the finished bagel on the sheet pan. Repeat with all of the dough balls until you have 14 shaped bagels on your sheet pan(s) (spaced about 1 inch apart). Cover the pan(s) with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 6 hours, and up to overnight.
Next, set up your baking station. You will need: the oven preheating to 500 degrees, your pan(s) of bagels, a large pot of boiling water, a strainer with a handle, a bowl of ice water, and the pan(s) you will use for baking.
Add 2-3 bagels at a time to the boiling water. Boil for 1-2 minutes, flipping them halfway through and making sure they don’t stick together. Remove them from the boiling water with your strainer and drop them into the bowl of ice water. Let cool for 3 minutes, while waiting for the boiling water to come back to a full boil. Place them on the pans you will use to bake them, and don’t worry about excess water. Repeat with the rest of the bagels.
If you are topping your bagels, sprinkle toppings on the wet top of the bagel, and flip them over on the pan, so the top of the bagel is facing down. Put the tray in the preheated oven for 5 minutes, then quickly remove and flip with tongs (so the side with toppings is now facing up). Return to oven for 10-15 minutes, until the bagels show nice color and crispness. Cool on a cooling rack until completely cooled before slicing and enjoying.
Yield: 14 bagels
Don’t let the length of the instructions fool you. Surprisingly, it was not difficult or complicated at all to make bagels. The most difficult part was waiting to eat them. And putting the bagels into a 500 degree oven without my smoke detector going off (it usually goes off if my oven is set to 400 degrees or above).
Go over to Matt’s recipe for a very detailed and picture-filled explanation of making the bagels!
It’s important to weigh ingredients in baking, especially in bread-making! I weigh my cups of flour as I put them in the bowl and they’re always all over the place!
Here is my dough ball before rising. It’s really tight and not at all sticky. I let it rise for about 2 hours while I did other things around the house. Then I let the formed bagels hang out in the fridge overnight, because I started this around 2 in the afternoon and didn’t feel like boiling bagels at 10 o’ clock at night.
Apparently I didn’t take any pictures of the in-between steps. Here are my finished creations! 2 poppy seed, 3 everything (my fave), and 2 salt (Brett’s fave). The salt kind of dissolved in the moisture of the boiled bagel, and then flattened while it was baked upside down. Maybe next time I’ll wait to add the salt until the flip in the oven. They still tasted great though!
The sliced bagel. I smothered this one with pumpkin cream cheese (of course). The outside was perfectly crispy, and the inside still soft and chewy. After they were completely cooled (i.e. sitting out all day) I put them in a ziploc bag. The next day the crust wasn’t crispy, but chewy like bagels in a bag you buy at the grocery store. They toasted perfectly in the toaster. Such an easy breakfast!
Bagels will definitely be made again in this house, but first, I’d like to try my hand at English muffins!