It's a fact: I love bagels. Chewy and hearty, covered with toppings and literally perfect for holding an egg, they are my breakfast (and sandwich) bread of choice. In Chez MoJo, we go through a dozen bagels a week sometimes. Since I am neither a British aristocrat nor a #Boomer, weak-ass toast is not on the menu.
So what happens when #Covid19 hits and there are no bagels to be found via Instacart or Prime Now? I am faced with the (admittedly) dramatic option to either starve or somehow procure bagels. Well, I refuse to starve.
I'm contemplating just how bad it will be to brave the long, germ-y lines at Whole Foods to try to get bagels on the off chance that I can get there early enough. Probably pretty bad (and irresponsible) if I'm trying to follow #socialdistancing precautions.
And then, like Carrie Bradshaw, I got to wondering... What if I made bagels!??
Can this even be done at home? Don't I need lots of special equipment, space and time? Will they really be the same bagels that come from a bakery or just hole-y rolls? One way to find out.....
Step one Make the dough. OK so this is pretty simple. Bagels start out like most breads with just a few simple ingredients - bread flour, water, sugar, salt and yeast. One important reminder: do not scoop the flour directly from the bag into your cup. It will be compacted and then your bagels will be too dry. Instead, pour into your measuring cup and level off.
It should be a rich and sticky dough that is dense and heavy. Some people will use their stand mixer to knead the dough but to me, that is taking literally ALL of the fun out of making breads. Roll your sleeves up, flour your hands (and probably the rest of yourself accidentally) and knead that dough by hand for 10 - 12 minutes. It goes into a bowl and rises for an hour.
Step Two Forming the bagels. I believe bread people call this "shaping." I also believe we call bread people "bakers." To shape the bagels, punch down the dough and reform it into on ball and let it rest for 10 minutes. Then divide the dough into 8 equal parts. I basically just guessed by dividing the ball in half and then half again, etc. Obviously you want them to be as even as possible.
Roll each piece on the countertop to form a round ball with all of the seams on the bottom. This is Play-Doh 101 so everyone should be able to do this easily. Place the round balls on your baking sheet. Great! You just shaped bagels.
Now the fun part - adding the hole. I was surprised to learn (as you may be) that the hole is not formed with a special tool or process. Literally, dear readers, you poke a hole in the middle with your finger. Yep, that's it. Put some flour on your hands, wiggle it down into the center of your dough balls and then basically hula-hoop it around your finger until the hole looks big enough. Done!
Step Three Boiling. It's the process of boiling the dough before baking that give bagels all of their characteristic texture and chew. They will also puff up and solidify considerably so don't worry if they look small and limp before they go into the pot. Some people will boil their bagels in beer or water with tons of salt or sugar in it. So far, I liked just plain water but maybe I'll find something better one day.
Boil the bagels in batches for 2 minutes per side. They need at least this long to get the right chew. Remember, we're not making gnocchi here! Use a slotted spoon to scoop them out so that you leave as much water in the pot as possible.
Step Four Toppings! This is where you can really get creative! Everyone has a different bagel topping that they like most. Toppings are added after the bagels are boiled, before they are baked. Brush each bagel with an egg wash to get the toppings to stick.
Topping options are limitless, but I like to limit myself to 2 topping options per batch. Last time I made them, half were a flaky sea salt + pepper and the other half were seeds. Everything bagels are usually poppy, sesame, and onion/garlic which hardly seems to me like everything. I created a seeded topping mixture with a little more punch - poppy, sesame, fennel, cumin and caraway seeds plus plenty of flaky salt.
Remember, if you want ingredients inside the bagels you have to commit at the beginning and add them when mixing the dough.
Step Five Baking. Again this is very simple. 20 minutes at 425(F) or until golden. Your racks should be in the middle of the oven. Plan to rotate the tray half way through baking just to make it even more even (yes I said that.) The bagels will puff even more and get their classic bagel shape. If you want to really go nuts, you can flip them over half way through but to me it's not necessary. Let them cool completely before wrapping them up.
So there you have it! I have just changed the game. Now, no world wide pandemic will ever ruin my breakfast plans again! I will have all the crunchy, chewy, salty, seedy bagels I could ever need plus the satisfaction of having made them myself!
Please share your homemade bagel success stories and your favorite bagel toppings!
Homemade Bagels Makes 8 bagels Time: 2 hrs
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 .5 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1.5 cups warm water (divided)
3.5 cups bread flour (all purpose flour will not yield as chewy bagels)
2 teaspoons fine salt
Toppings (my faves - get creative)
1 egg beaten for egg wash
Maldon sea salt flakes
fresh black pepper
seed mixture ( 2 Tbs sesame seeds, 2 Tbs poppy seeds, 1 Tbs caraway seeds, 2 tsp fennel seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 Tbs Maldon sea salt flakes)
1. In a medium bowl add 1/2 cup warm water, yeast and sugar. Let stand undisturbed for 5 minutes to "bloom" and then stir to dissolve.
2. Whisk the flour and salt together in a large glass bowl and add the yeast mixture slowly to the center.
3. Add 1/2 cup water and stir everything together with a rubber spatula. Keep adding water as needed (little by little) to make a moist firm dough with no dry flour spots remaining.
4. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 10 - 12 minutes by hand. You will need to re-flour several times and it's okay that the excess flour gets worked into the dough. You want it to be elastic, smooth and uniform. If it's pulling or tearing, you need more flour.
5. Lightly spray a large bowl with non stick spray and roll the dough ball in the bowl to coat all surfaces. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm spot 1 - 1.5 hrs. Dough should be double in volume.
6. Punch down the dough and let rest for another 10 minutes.
7. Start a large pot of water to boil on the stove while you shape the bagels. Preheat the oven to 425(F) with the oven racks in the middle.
8. Divide the dough into 8 equal parts (I used a chef's knife) on a floured surface. Roll each part on the counter top to form an even smooth ball with the "seams" at the bottom. Place the balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rest for 15 minutes
9. Use your finger to punch a hole in the center of each ball, tossing the dough gently around your finger until you have evenly stretched it out into a reasonable bagel shape.
10. In batches, lower the bagels into the boiling water using a slotted spoon. Boil for 2 minutes on each side then return the bagels (drain well) to the baking sheet.
11. If adding toppings, now is the time! Brush each bagel top, hole and edges with egg wash. Add as many toppings as desired to create your ideal intensity. Usually 2 "flavors" per batch is my recommendation. In this case, half will get sea salt flakes and fresh black pepper and the other half will get the seed mixture.
12. Bake the bagels for 20 minutes. If they look really pale after that, go for 2 -3 more minutes. Pull them all the way out to check the color because oven lighting is not always truthful.
13. Cool and eat. Pretty simple. Share your photos with us!
Travel. Capture. Taste.