Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bagel baking adventure on a snowday

With Hanukkah rapidly approaching, and much too close on the heels of Thanksgiving this year, I am so busy making gifts and trying to figure out when I can start frying latkes, that I haven't had much time to finish a new blog post. Yesterday however, we were blessed with the first snowday of the school year, and for the first time in a few years, I got to stay home with the kids and actually enjoy it instead of trying to work from home and parent at the same time.

So, while the baby slept, Ayo (my 5 year old) and I flipped through some cookbooks to settle on a cooking project for the day. His first suggestion was the good old stand by of scones, which offer quick satisfaction, and a tray of not too sweet treats that I tend to let him snack on through out the day. but, since we had a little more time than usual, we flipped through some cookbooks for something new, and when he saw a picture of some delicious looking bagels, well, it must be the training he got in his first 2 years of life in Brooklyn, living around the corner from one of the best hand made bagel bakeries in NYC, but the decision was made, and bagels it was!

Bagels are one of those treats I have always wanted to make, but have never gotten around to, and since I'm a good jewish girl, and a bagel snob, I figured it was about time i tried to boil me some bagels.

Yes, boil, that is the key to the shiny, chewy crust. while we were at it, we decided to use a little of the dough to make some pretzels too. You just add a little baking soda to the water and you're good to go.

Kneading the dough. It should be a little tacky, but not sticky.

To shape bagels, roll dough into a rope and then loop around into a circle. Stick your hand through the loop and roll the ends together firmly.

To form a pretzel, you need to roll the dough into a long rope, about 18 inches long. Loop the ends of the dough around and twist them once before folding them down into a pretzel shape. It is hard to explain, but easy if you just start rolling and playing with the dough.

Bagel topped with sesame and anise seeds

pretzel with sesame seeds and salt.
The pinch of extra salt on the pretzels added just the right touch of flavor.

Bagel recipe
As with all of my baking, I substitute a variety of flours to add flavor and nutritional value. As long as you keep at least 1/2 to 2/3 of the wheat or spelt flour, you can usually replace the rest with, rye, millet, rice or other flours. You can use all whole wheat or whole spelt flour, but it can make for a heavy dough, so I often use part white flour and part whole wheat or spelt. When substituting with different flours, you may need to add a little additional flour to obtain the proper dough texture. This recipe calls for a dough that is tacky, but not sticky. Feel free to experiment, bread doughs are more forgiving than you'd imagine!
Adapted from the Martha Stewart baking handbook:

1 teaspoon yeast
1 2/3 cups warm water
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons honey
1 pound 6 ounces flour (about 4 1/4 cups)
(2/3 unbleached white flour, 1/3 other flours like rye, whole wheat, or some wheatgerm)
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
seeds or salt for topping bagels

  1. Proof yeast in warm water until foamy.
  2. In a mixer with a dough hook, or by hand, mix 1 tablespoon honey, salt and flour. knead until dough forms, about 1 minute. the dough should be tacky but not sticky. add a little flour or water if needed. knead dough for 5 minutes more.
  3. Put dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled plastic wrap and put in a warm place unitl dough has doubled in size. about 2 hours.
  4. Divide dough in 10 pieces. cover with a damp cloth and let rest for 20 minutes. roll each piece of dough into a 6 inch rope. wrap the dough in a circle around your hand and roll over the seem firmly until dough is joined.
  5. Place bagels on a parchment lined baking sheet and cover with oiled plastic wrap. let rise slightly, about 20 minutes.
  6. Preheat over to 500 degrees. In a large pot boil water and and remaining 2 tablespoons of honey.
  7. Place as many bagels as will fit without touching in the pot and boil for at least 30 seconds on each side. use a slotted spoon to remove bagels and place them on the baking sheet. sprinkle with seeds or salt immediately. as soon as all the bagels are boiled, place them in the oven. bake for 5 mintues until tops start to brown. turn over down to 350 degrees and bake about 10 minutes more until bagels are golden brown. turn over if necessary to brown bottoms.
  8. To make pretzels as well, use some of the dough and roll into a long thin rope and form into pretzel shape (see below). Add 5 tablespoons baking soda to the boiling water and boil pretzels for one minute. sprinkle with salt or sesame seeds and bake about 10 minutes, ideally at 400 degrees. If needed, just put pretzels in the oven with the bagels, and as soon as the bagels are removedfrom the oven, turn the heat back up.

1 comment:

  1. Yum, the bagels look delicious. I'm not a huge bread person but I'd definitely snack on one of those!