Here’s what happened: I told my mother I was planning on making homemade bagels to serve at a brunch that I was planning on hosting. She told me I was crazy.
Actually, that’s not quite how it happened, but it is funny when I tell it that way. And, in my defense, she told me that we didn’t live in the Midwest, and it was a complete waste of time. I think at this point, my father may have piped in with a cost benefit analysis. I should probably mention here that I live directly across the street from a bagel store.
As someone who makes her down graham crackers, hearing that making bagels is a foolish venture? Well, them’s fightin’ words. (I know, I’m horrified that I wrote that too, but I’m leaving it. See, I’m ridiculous in many ways.) The appeal is partially based in the absurd. It’s the appeal of doing something just to see if I could.
Of course, when it was well past one in the morning, and I was still shaping my bagels, while also trying not to burn a cake (stay tuned for that recipe), I was beginning to conceded that I may well be crazy. I was also beginning to worry that I might end up feeling like this guy when I realized that, in order to have the bagels ready on time, I would need to wake up early. It’s been well established that my time management skills in the kitchen are less than stellar, so this should come as no surprise to any of you reading.
However, all of the above is not intended to dissuade you from making bagels. With a little planning, the whole process is incredibly easy, particularly when you use a standing mixer as I’ve indicated. There’s also the added bonus of impressing your brunch guests because, get this, you’ve made homemade bagels!
I mean really, who does that?
Clearly, I think you should, especially if you live in the Midwest.
Recipe and techniques courtesy of the Wednesday Chef
While the process doesn’t take long, note that your bagels will need to proof overnight.
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon baking soda
Poppy and sesame seeds (optional)
oil (Approx 3 TBS, I used vegetable)
Using a paddle attachment of your standing mixer, combine the flour, 2 teaspoons salt, the yeast, honey and the water until the ingredients form a stiff, coarse ball of dough, adding more water if necessary. Let the dough rest 5 minutes.
Once the dough has rested, knead it on a floured surface until the it feels stiff yet supple, with a satiny, slightly tacky feel, 2 to 3 minutes.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, covering with plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
When you’re ready to shape the dough, line your baking sheets with greased parchment paper.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator. If you’re making large bagels, divide it into 6 to 8 equal pieces. For mini bagels, divide it into 12 to 15 equal pieces. Form each piece into a loose, round ball by rolling it on a clean, dry work surface. If the dough won’t form a ball, wipe the work surface with a damp paper towel and try again. Once this step is complete, you are ready to shape your bagels.
Using your hands and a fair amount of pressure, roll each dough ball into a 8-10 inch long “rope”. Slightly taper the rope at the ends so that they are thinner than the middle. Place one end of the dough between your thumb and forefinger and wrap it around your hand until the ends overlap in your palm; they should overlap by about 2 inches. Squeeze the overlapping ends together and then press the joined ends into the work surface, rolling them back and forth a few times until they are completely sealed.
Remove the dough from your hand and squeeze as necessary to even out the thickness so that there is a 2-inch hole in the center. Place the bagel on the prepared sheet pan. Repeat with the other pieces. Lightly wipe the bagels with oil, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.
After the bagels have proofed overnight, remove them from the refrigerator so that they can warm to room temperature. This should be done at least 90 minutes prior to baking.
As the bagels are warming up, fill a large stockpot with 3 quarts of water and slowly bring to a boil. When it comes to a boil, add the remaining teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda, reduce the heat and simmer with the lid on.
Thirty minutes before baking, heat the oven to 500 degrees.
Test the bagels by placing one in a bowl of cold water. If it sinks and doesn’t float to the surface, return it to the sheet, wait 15 minutes and then test it again. When one bagel passes the float test, they are ready for the pot.
Gently lift each bagel and drop it into the simmering water. Add as many as will comfortably fit in the pot. After 1 minute, use a spider to flip each bagel over. Poach for an extra 30 seconds. Using the spider, remove each bagel and return it to the lined baking sheet. Continue until all the bagels have been poached. Generously sprinkle each bagel with a topping, such as poppy seeds or sesame seeds.
Place the baking sheet in the oven and reduce the heat to 450 degrees. Bake for 8 minutes and then rotate the sheet, checking the underside of the bagles. If they are getting too dark, place another sheet under the baking sheet. Bake until the bagels are golden brown, an additional 8 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer the bagels to a rack for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Serve with butter and cream cheese.
Makes 6-8 New York size bagels, and 12-15 minis