While I hate to bog you down with any one kind of food (except, of course, for pie), I also really hate to publish recipes that I don’t think are up to par. And while last weekend’s Jalapeño Bagels were tasty and the perfect food for our massive hangovers, they were not the perfect bagel. And the round two of bagels that we cooked up on Sunday were also good (especially the cinnamon sugar- worth the mess), but they were dense and still not right. And I want everything I put out there to be right. Good. Recipes that I am proud of.
Lucky for me, Dan is an internet addict and a compulsive researcher. So, when the second batch of bagels turned out not so wonderfully, we both hit the worldwide web in search of better recipes. We came up with a collection, recipes calling for everything from barley malt syrup to egg whites. The one thing that we noticed time and time again was that our dough looked too dry. Both of the first two recipes we looked at told us that the dough should be dryer than normal bread dough, that it was okay if it was a little flaky. But I don’t think it was okay. What we took to mean “stiff” was not, what we have now decided, what we were supposed to take to mean “stiff.”
So today I present to you round three of the great bagel experiment. The recipe we ended up using as our primary source was one from the L.A. Times. While we added more water than the recipe called for, and used the hole-punch method of forming the bagels instead of the roll-out method, we stuck to the recipe for the most part. We made three varieties- jalapeño, blueberry, and cinnamon sugar. And while I hate to brag. These are the perfect bagels.
The last time we attempted cinnamon sugar we made the awful mistake of putting on the cinnamon/sugar mixture before we baked them, which lead to a caramelized mess that I will be taking heat for from now until eternity. I just didn’t believe that applying the mix after you baked it would be sufficient, but it turned out that it is. We learned that if you brush the bagels with butter and coat them with the mix as soon as the come out of the oven, the mix will get embedded as the bagels cool. I know, I wouldn’t believe it either. My advice- pretend like it’s french toast. Have two bowls sitting side by side, one with melted butter and the other with the mix. Dip, dip, and then on to the drying rack.
Unlike the first recipe we published, this round calls for allowing the bagels to proof over night. Proofing is the process of yeast converting the glucose to carbon dioxide, essentially what makes the bagel “rise.” Not all bagel recipes call for a retardation process, which is when the bagel is allowed to rise in the refrigerator for an extended period of time. Rumor has it that bagels that have been allowed to retard have more flavor, and I am always one to ere on the side of flavor.
I will leave you with my advice on making blueberry bagels. Because we took a batch of bagels that was big enough for 12-16 bagels and divided it into three flavors, there was some debate about when to add the distinguishing ingredients. We decided to add in the flavor makers after the dough had proofed for an hour in the fridge, but before we rolled them out. This worked BEAUTIFULLY with the peppers. It did not, however, work so well with the blueberries. I learned that the lovely “bursting” quality the the blueberry exhibits adds unwanted moisture to your proofed dough. We ended up adding extra flour and letting them retard an extra hour, but my recommendation would be to add the blueberries in the original mixture, so as to allow the blueberry-induced moisture to factor into how much water you use ultimately.
Source: Adapted from the L.A. Times
7 cups unbleached bread flour
3 cups water (add the last cup as needed)
1 1/2 tsp dry active yeast
6 tsp salt
3 tbsp barley malt syrup (easily found at a natural foods store- or use honey)
2 tsp baking soda
Flavor maker (jalapeño, blueberries, chocolate chips, etc)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp olive oil
Using a stand mixer or by hand (but not a hand mixer), combine all ingredients (except the last cup of water). If you’re mixing it by hand, use a wooden spoon to combine initially, and then knead with your hands. Add the last cup of water as you need it. You want the texture to be satiny and kind of tacky. Knead for three minutes. Allow to rest for five.
On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough an additional five minutes. The dough should be stiff, slightly tacky, and smooth. If it is crumbling and falling apart, you need to add more water.
Lightly oil a mixing bowl and place in the ball of dough. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let retard in the refrigerator for at least an hour. The dough will need to be formed before it goes in over night.
On a completely dry, clean surface, divide the dough into 12-16 pieces. Form each piece into a loose, round ball by rolling it out on the counter. If the dough is sticking to the surface, add a little water, which will make it tense up. Once you’ve formed balls, poke your thumb through the center to create a hole. Work out from the whole to make an evenly shaped ring. Repeat for each ball, placing them on a wax paper lined baking pan. When done, brush them with olive oil and cover them tightly with plastic wrap. Place them in the refrigerator overnight.
90 minutes before you’re ready to boil your bagels, take them out of the fridge and let them return to room temperature. It takes about 40 minutes for 2 gallons of water to come to a rolling boil, so keep that in mind when you put the water on. Once the water is boiling adding the remaining salt and baking soda. Set the oven to 500 degrees fahrenheit (which will take 30 minutes to preheat).
One by one, drop your bagels into the boiling water. Boil for one minute, flip, and boil an additional 30 seconds. Return to wax paper lined sheet. Place the sheet into the oven and reduce the heat to 450. Bake for 8 minutes, and then rotate. Bake until golden brown- an additional 8 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven onto a rack.
Cool, and serve.