Bagels

January 29, 2011 § 1 Comment

J: HOMEMADE BAGELS, GUYS.  Do I even need to say anything else?  Well, probably not, but I am going to give you a bit of background anyway: since moving down here to start grad school, I’ve been totally bread-independent.  I haven’t bought a loaf of bread in five months and it’s been awesome (and probably also saved me a lot of money).  But I was still buying bagels, because I thought they were more difficult to make and didn’t want to bother.

No more, my friends.  No more.

Want to be a real boss in the kitchen?  Next time your friends come over, casually point to the stack of huge delicious bagels in your pantry and say, “oh, those?  Yeah, I made those, no big deal.”  Nobody else has to know how easy it is to make bagels!

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.  It’s go time.

who needs storebought??

Bagels
(original recipe here)
4 c bread flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp canola or olive oil
2 tsp instant yeast (we used 2 tsp active dry yeast; if you have active dry, it works fine, you just have to proof it first)
1 1/4 – 1 1/2 c warm water (if you proof the yeast, be sure to subtract the water you use for that from this total)

Start off by mixing together all of your ingredients in a bowl.  Start with 1 1/4 c of water and see how that works for you.

all the ingredients for awesome bagels

Mix the dough until it coheres reasonably well.  It should be pretty dry, but if it’s too dry and won’t pick up all the excess flour, you should add the extra 1/4 c of water (a little bit at a time — don’t add more than you need) to help it along.  Once you’ve got things under control, form the dough into a rough ball shape and turn it out onto a well-floured surface.  Like I said, this dough is really dry, so be prepared for an awesome arm workout.

scruffy-looking ball of dough

Knead the dough until it’s smooth and passes the windowpane test, probably somewhere around 10 minutes.

what a difference!

When your dough has smoothed out, cut it into eight equal dough balls, and let them rest for 10-20 minutes.

they still don't look like bagels

At this point you should probably get your oven preheating to 425.

Now comes the fun bit: shaping the bagels.  Take one of your dough balls and roll it out into a snake.  It should be longer than the width of both of your hands put together.  Wrap the dough around your dominant hand, with the ends meeting on your palm, and squeeze the ends together.  A little water can go a long way for this — just dab a bit onto each of the ends and then pinch them together with your fingers until you’ve got a reasonably seamless connection.

bagel shaping like a pro

When you’ve got all your bagels properly bagel-shaped, let them rest again for about 15-20 minutes.  While they’re resting, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.  Also, grease a baking sheet very lightly and set it aside (we needed two baking sheets to fit all eight of the bagels).

starting to look promising

You’ll know that your bagels have rested for long enough when they start to look a little puffy; for reference, the ones in the above picture aren’t quite there yet.  When yours do start to puff up, it’s time to boil them.  Drop two or three, depending on how large your pot is, into the boiling water (we did two at a time, but in retrospect three would have fit easily).

the magic step: bagel boiling!

Boil for about a minute on each side.  They’re pretty easy to flip — you don’t even have to take them out of the water; you can just use a spatula to turn them over.  When they’re done, gently pick them up out of the water and set them on a cooling rack.  They will be very sticky, so just be aware of that.  Probably best not to use tongs, also, as that will leave indentation marks on the dough.

Side note: if you want to add toppings to your bagels (herbs, poppy or sunflower seeds, cheese, etc.), now is the time to do it.  Immediately after you remove them from the water, sprinkle them liberally with your topping of choice.  We did a few with poppy seeds and they came out quite well.

Finish with the rest of the bagels, and let them dry for a minute or two.  Place them on your baking sheet(s), and pop them in the oven.

Let them bake for ten minutes, and then pull them out, flip them over, and bake for another ten minutes.

halfway through baking

When they’re done, they should have a lovely shiny coat and will probably have puffed up quite a bit — ours got huge!  As soon as they’ve cooled enough, grab your toaster and your favorite bagel spread, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

my pride and joy

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