One of my goals this year was to make food a priority. For me that doesn’t just mean eating proper meals (I’m EXCELLENT at that) but reminded myself to explore my love of experimenting with food. To kick off this year of experimentation I decided to make bagels.
Yes, I made bagels.
I’ve basically grown up loving bagels. As a kid it was often supermarket bagels but as I grew up we upgraded to bakery bagels and life got so much better. I grew up with a lot of Jewish friends so bagel brunches with all of the fixings were pretty much always on my radar (yay lox!). Now let’s throw in a stint living in NYC and visits to Montreal and my bagel game was definitely kicked up a notch.
Living in Evanston I have been uninspired by the bagel scene (although I recently learned that there IS a place that makes great bagels). Local bakeries don’t really make bagels, I don’t love supermarket bagels and I pretty much refuse to get bagels from Panera or Einstein Bros. And don’t even get me started on the lack of great cream cheese. Life. Is. Rough. So since I was craving bagels I decided to make them myself.
Here’s the funny thing about making bagels, it somehow sounds intimidating but they are actually SHOCKINGLY simple to make. If you’re open to making bread you should be open to make bagels. The process basically involves making a sponge the night before (flour, water, yeast) and letting that do it’s thing. The next day you add flour and a few other things to the sponge and mix it in your stand mixer (if you have it). There’s some rising and shaping in there as well and then you boil and then bake the bagels. That’s it! I promise, it isn’t difficult.
The bagels turned out shockingly well. And since they were easy to make a part of me thinks I will never buy bagels again. What was also great is that I could customize the size of my bagels. It seems that many bagels are in the 4 oz range but since I like them a bit smaller I made my bagels 3 oz. Plus you can do all sorts of customization. I went for sesame seeds but you could do different coloured seeds or a combination. I could even do cinnamon cranberry instead of the dreaded raisin bagel. Possibilities are endless on this one kids.
Go make bagels. And use this recipe from Ruhlman.
Sponge (4 to 12 hours before baking; I did this overnight)
500 grams flour/18 ounces/ 3.5 cups
500 grams water/18 ounces/ 2 1/4 cups
3 grams active dry yeast/3/4 teaspoon
Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and set aside for at least 4 hours (I did this overnight).
To Make the Bagels
18 grams kosher salt/.6 ounces/1 tablespoon
18 grams honey/1 scant tablespoon
18 grams malt syrup/1 tablespoon (you can substitute molasses or brown sugar)
446 grams flour/16 ounces/ 3 cups
Baking Soda (1/2 tablespoon for every 2 liters/1/2 gallon water)
Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, coarse salt or other garnish (optional but recommended
Add salt, honey, malt syrup, and flour to the sponge, and then add the flour. Using a dough hook on your stand mixer, mix for 8-10 minutes.
Once the dough is mixed, move it to your counter, cover it with a cloth and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. While this is happening, fill a deep pot with water and begin to heat it on the stove. Measure how much water you’ve used so that you know how much baking soda to add. When the water starts to simmer add the baking soda and heat the oven to 450 degrees.
Divide the dough into 3-4 oz pieces (depending on preference). Make each piece into a ball and allow them to rest for a few minutes, covered. After allowing the balls to rest, flatten them into disks slightly (you want them about 3-4 inches wide) and make a whole in the centre using your thumb. Place on the counter, covered, and allow to rise.
After about 10 minutes, flip the bagels over and allow to rise a bit more until the side facing up is slightly puffy. When this happens (about 5 minutes) it’s time to boil! Ensure the water is at a simmer drop in 3-4 bagels at a time and let them simmer for one minute on each side.
Remove the bagels from the water with a large spoon and sprinkle with any toppings (you can even brush with a bit of egg white and water to help the seeds stick). Bake for 12-13 or until golden brown.
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