BBA #3: Bagels (and a topping recipe)
Since embarking on the Bread Baker’s Apprentice challenge, I have really been looking forward to making the bagels. Before I moved to Virginia, I had a small problem– shall we say– with bagels. In particular, everything bagels are irresistable to me. I love them. I’ll eat them plain, buttered, with raspberry jam. Nothing compares to a bagel sandwich made with those savory little toppings crusting the bagel. Athens afforded me many opportunities to eat them. My favorite coffee shop sold great ones, Big City Bread made good ones, and Zim’s Bagel Bakery had perfected them. When my husband and I visit Tallahassee every year, we always seek out Bagelheads for a bagel sandwich served with crunchy cole slaw on our way out of town. Now, Zim’s has closed and I have moved. I thought great bagels would be easier to find, but there are no good bagels that I have found or tried up here yet. I vowed they would be one of the first things I made in my new kitchen. Before I got the chance, though, I signed up to bake my way through this book, and one of the major motivations to do so was that bagel recipe.
Now that I’ve made the bagel recipe, let me say that I recommend it strongly. The bagels are perfect. They are chewy, they are flavorful, and they are easy. They do take a bit of time, but I would ask that you not be put off by that. Most of the time is spent waiting, not working. I decided to begin my bagels this past Saturday evening, after returning from a quick overnight trip to Blacksburg. I was a little tired, but I really wanted to have these available for Sunday’s lunch. We usually skip breakfast on Sundays, so I figured this would make the perfect meal. My husband adores everything bagels as much as I do, so this was a treat he was really anticipating.
I started by making the sponge according to Reinhart’s directions. I took a large mixing bowl, and mixed the yeast into the flour. I did not use high-gluten flour, so I added 1 teaspoon of vital wheat gluten to each cup of bread flour in the sponge; this came out to 4 teaspoons. I added the vital wheat gluten to the measuring cup before scooping out the flour, so that the flour would equal 1 cup minus 1 teaspoon of actual bread flour. I added room temperature water, covered the sponge in plastic wrap, and left it for two hours.
After two hours, the sponge had doubled in size, and it was bubbly and foamy. It did not collapse when I tapped the bowl on the counter, but degassed very quickly when I poked it. Close enough. I added the additional yeast to the sponge and the remaining flour. I added vital wheat gluten to this bread flour in the same way that I did for the sponge. I also added salt and malt powder. I mixed per the recipe directions, adding the final 3/4 C of flour after the dough made a ball. I then removed the dough from the bowl and proceeded to knead. As usual, I kneaded by hand. The dough quickly reached the correct temperature, but failed to windowpane after 15 minutes of kneading. I continued kneading for another 15 minutes before my dough passed the windowpane test. The dough also stayed very tacky throughout much of the kneading, so I continued adding flour until the texture became satiny and did not stick to my hands. I probably added another cup of flour in this manner. I am not sure of the exact measurement, as I add the flour very slowly– a small handful at a time.
At this point, I divide the dough up with my bench scraper, shaped the dough into rolls, and let it proof under a damp towel for 20 minutes. When I returned the rolls had risen a bit and were beautiful. I lined two baking pans; for one I used my Silpat, and the other I used parchment paper. I misted each with spray oil, and shaped my bagels. I placed 6 bagels on each pan, covered them with plastic wrap, and let them hang out for another 2o minutes. After the time had passed, I filled a large mixing bowl with room temperature water and dropped a bagel in. It floated, so I knew they were ready to be retarded in the fridge. This was the most punctual dough I had worked with yet.
Sunday morning, I awoke and removed my bagels from the fridge. They had risen just a bit overnight, but they looked great and were ready to boil.
I boiled the bagels for 1 minute per side in water with a tablespoon of baking soda added. I ended up boiling three bagels at a time so as not to crowd the pot. As soon as I removed the bagels, I sprinkled on my everything bagel topping (recipe at the bottom of the page). When all the bagels had been boiled, I baked them on two racks in the center of my oven at 500º. After 5 minutes I lowered the temperature as directed. After another 5 minutes, I didn’t feel like the bagels were quite baked enough, so I let them bake another five minutes. They came out a beautiful golden brown.
This was definitely my favorite recipe so far, and the everything bagel topping I made tasted just like those in my favorite bagel shops. Below, I have the quick recipe for the quantities needed to top a dozen bagels. It’s not much in terms of a recipe, but it will make your bagels taste divine.
Everything Bagel Topping
- 4 tsp poppy seeds
- 4 tsp sesame seeds
- 4 tsp dried garlic flakes
- 4 tsp dried onion flakes
- 4 tsp coarse grained kosher or sea salt
Mix all ingredients together well in a small bowl. Use to liberally top bagels as soon as they emerge from their water bath. Store any leftovers in an airtight container. Will keep up to two months.
Tops 12 large bagels or 24 mini bagels.
This is some more yeasty goodness I’m sending over to Yeastspotting.