Bagels. Who doesn’t love a good bagel? Chewy. Toasted. Slathered in cream cheese. I was pleased to find out that bagels were the second recipe in the book. I never thought in a million years I’d ever make bagels. I’d seen tutorials online and in books and thought it looked too involved… especially that water bath. For those of you who don’t know, bagels are a type of yeast bread that not only requires a rise and proofing, but also a “retarding” of the rise (slowing it down really) in the fridge for a time before dropping them into a pot of boiling water. It was that part that scared me – what if they fell apart in the water? What if I left them in there too long?
I ordered the high protein flour (bread flour) and the diastatic malt syrup (I settled on barley malt syrup) from a big online retailer who I shall not name and was ready to go. The recipe calls for high protein flour, instant yeast, water, and salt – much like the lean bread did – but it also needed the syrup. That is what helps with the color and fermentation – it provides sugar to feed the yeast and help with the rise. I ended up getting a non-diastatic malt syrup which simply means it did not contain active enzymes. Diastase: Any one of a group of enzymes that catalyses the breakdown of starch into maltose. (Source: Diastase page on Wikipedia.) I assumed the barley malt syrup would work given a quick search of online recipes. (As an interesting aside – at least I think so – the Hubs made beer over the weekend and he bought huge cans of barley malt syrup and amber malt syrup. Note to self: Beer supply stores may be where to get some of my supplies. Just saying.)
I had the day off last Friday so I had plenty of time to get started on my project. What a great day – I just did stuff around the house and took my time. I was asked a few times what was taking so long, but after reading the recipe I knew I had time plus I had figured out my measurements and weights. While it wasn’t difficult per se, it was just involved and I imagine if you were kneading it by hand it would get tiresome. The cool thing about having a stand mixer though is you don’t have to do all that kneading. The mixer and the dough hook is a wonderful invention. Anyway, I got my ingredients together (mise en place or “everything in its place”) and went to work around 3pm. You combine the flour and the yeast in one bowl. You add the salt, water, and a little syrup to the mixer with the dough hook attachment. Then you add in the flour/yeast mixture until combined. Mix on low for four minutes and then medium for five minutes. That was it to get the dough. Super easy.
I think I read the lean dough recipe page by mistake because I put the dough in a lightly oiled glass bowl, covered it with plastic wrap, and walked away for half an hour so I could continue to watch Cable Girls. (If you haven’t seen this show on Netflix and you like mindless telenovela type stuff, this one is for you. It was a bit weird to get into at first since the version I have is dubbed but I got over that pretty quick. It takes place in 1929 so there are pretty people and costumes and scenery to look at which I feel makes it even easier to watch – even with the mouths not following the voices completely.) Anyhoo, I wasn’t supposed to do that. Oops. No matter. I then proceeded to weigh dough bits in 5 oz chunks. Uniformity is key. I let them sit for 10 minutes and then I rolled them as described in the book – roughly ten inches long and uniform and then you attach the ends to make a circle like this:
After shaping them, I covered them, put them in the fridge, and let them do their thing overnight. The recipe said a minimum of eight hours or overnight so I just figured we’d have fresh bagels Saturday morning. What a treat that would be!
Here they are after weighing and final shaping.
In the morning, I got up early because … well, if you have a four-year old you totally get why. They don’t sleep in unless it’s a school day. (Why is that, hmmm?). I looked at my bagels and they had kept rising even in the fridge. The holes I made weren’t as big and in some cases, a few bagels looked like donuts. Note to self – next time I must leave more space.
After boiling some water with additional barley malt syrup, I placed the first bagel in the water and after 10 seconds, flipped it for 10 seconds more. I used a strainer to pull it out and shake off the excess water before putting it back on my cookie sheet. I followed suit with the others, though in a few cases I dipped the bagels in an ice water bath after the boil. That was supposed to produce a chewier bagel, but I was too lazy to separate them so I had no idea which ones had the ice bath or not. I then placed them into a 500 degree oven on top of a heated pizza stone. They sizzled when I placed them down – and stuck promptly. I got five of the six in the oven, deciding to leave the last one when I had some more room on the stone. I baked them for 25-30 minutes until they had some color. Some could have stayed in longer for more color but I was afraid of burning them.
In the end, it didn’t matter. I may have made a few missteps, but they were perfect. I was so elated. We sampled one while still warm with some butter – heavenly. I was giddy all day. Really feeling myself. I DID THIS. I MADE THESE. I CAN do what I set my mind to. Yay me. Join me next time for wheat lean bread. Definitely not as exciting as bagels, but hey, gotta learn to make wheat rolls and loaves, too.