A while back I posted about a new cookbook I got at Christmas called Crusts. To say that I am obsessed is probably an understatement. When I flip through it I pretty much find whatever I am craving in the bread department and open it to that page, prop it up on my cookbook stand and get to work.
I feel like most people are becoming more and more aware of what they eat, what it is made out of, where it was made and whether or not they can learn to make it at home. I love this, as I am one of those people, and bread is my biggest challenge. It doesn’t always turn out for me the first time, but I don’t give up anymore. I have not bought bread from the store for months, and for me, this is incredibly satisfying. I have the privilege of staying at home full time with my son, and this is the biggest reason I can do this. I will never try to convince anyone that this is easy or something that doesn’t take any time to do because it’s just not true. It does in fact take a lot of time and a lot of work, but I find it very worthwhile and enjoyable. It literally has become my number one hobby right now and I truly enjoy it.
I have never made bagels in my life until I tried these. It was easy enough to execute, but this particular recipe called for two days worth of steps, so it wasn’t fast. These kinds of specialty breads are usually a labor of love I find, especially on a first go!
So taken right out of the Crusts book, here’s the picture and recipe, which I will write out exactly as written, for you below. Courtesy of Kaufman’s Bagel & Delicatessen.
7 cups high gluten flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon & 1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup vegetable or soybean oil
1 ½ cups cold water
2 teaspoons fresh yeast
Combine all ingredients in a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on low until it forms a cohesive ball. Divide into 12 evenly-sized pieces. Roll into hot dog shape and form into bagels. Transfer to a pan or board with a light coating of cornmeal and place in the refrigerator to hold overnight. Dough can be frozen raw up to a week.
When ready to bake, remove bagels from the refrigerator and place in a warm, moist (if possible) environment to proof for approximately 2 hours (or until puffy).
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F and line your baking sheet with parchment paper.
Boil a pot of water and drop a few bagels at a time into the boiling water; as soon as the bagels pop up to the top of the water (30-60 seconds) remove them with a strainer and place them on your parchment paper lined pan. Bake for approximately 18-20 minutes.
Here’s how they turn out:
The instructions from the book seemed a little simple when I read through them, but when I actually went to do it, it was more involved, so I will try to break it down a bit better through the photos for all you lovely bagel lovers.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, put in the flour, sugar and salt. So we are using high gluten flour here. If you have a gluten intolerance boy oh boy are you going to want to step back now. This probably isn’t for you. If you are like me and love gluten filled bread recipes, then keep reading. You can buy flour that says high gluten on it, but a simple alternative is just your run of the mill Bread Flour. That’s what I used here.
Then pour in your oil, egg, water and yeast. I used the vegetable oil for this (instead of the optional soybean oil).
Then put it under your machine with the dough hook attachment and let it run on the lowest speed. It’s going to work for at least 6-8 minutes before it comes together. Stop it every minute or so and scrape the sides down and help it out. There’s a lot of flour in there. Also, I did find that 1 1/2 cups of water was not enough for it to all hold. I ended up adding in another 1/2 – 3/4 cups of water and then it really worked together great. Start small and do the same if it’s too dry.
It will end up being a big ball and at about this point, you can take it out and put it on your counter. I found no extra flour was needed and it was easy to handle and didn’t stick.
This is a really large amount of dough, so I decided to cut it in half and I felt that from looking at the dough and feeling it, it needed some hand kneading so I took one piece at a time and gave it a quick knead to just really work it together and make sure it was smooth. The one on the right has been kneaded for about 2 minutes – it’s not totally smooth like a regular bread dough, but it will be soon.
You might also notice that high gluten flour feels so much different when you knead it than regular all purpose flour. You can literally feel the pull of the gluten in your hands. The elastic is so much stronger and tougher to knead through.
Once they were both kneaded, I took my dough cutter and started to chop out even pieces. 6 from each dough ball.
Once in half and then three small pieces from each half….here’s the first 6….
and then all 12….
In the meantime, Judah helped me spread the cornmeal over a large sheet pan. So you should use cornmeal, but when I went to find it, I found I didn’t have it! I was too far along to stop so I had to come up with another plan. Millet, which is what this is, is something I add to multigrain breads I make. It was a random choice, but I tried it, because that’s what I had. And you know what? It worked. This is just a long winded lesson in showing you that it’s ok to substitute small things like this sometimes. But really, don’t be like me. The purpose of this is only to ensure the dough doesn’t end up sticking to the pan. It won’t affect the bagels in any way. Phew.
Then you want to take your small dough rounds and begin to roll them out with your hand, back and forth into a sort of log shape. This is also going to smooth out your dough further and make it nice and smooth.
Each piece ends up being about 6 or 7 inches long. It should be quite thick still.
Then do you best to make it into a bagel shape and close it by sort of wrapping one end around the other and pinching it closed. You will feel that this dough is dryer and you need to work to pinch it and have it actually stay together. Put each one on the baking sheet with the cornmeal (or millet…ha!) spread evenly over it.
Get all 12 on there. Don’t worry how close they are together – as long as they aren’t actually touching. They are not going to rise overnight in the fridge. Also, you can probably notice that they aren’t totally perfect, and I am ok with that. They will look better once they are baked, but I have to honestly say, that I kind of like them a bit mishapen. They look homemade and I embrace that.
Oh, and I promised Judah I would include his two bagels he rolled out all by himself. I have to say, although I am a biased Mother, that’s pretty good for a three year old. 🙂 I think he actually did just as good as I did.
Now all you have to do is cover this with plastic wrap and put it in your fridge overnight. You just completed phase 1.
Then the next morning, after an iced coffee……I pulled the baking sheet out of the fridge and let them sit out on the counter for a couple of hours. In the instructions it said two hours, but I left mine out for 4. It took that long for them to puff up for me and really proof. I think that comes down to temperature a lot of the time. They won’t double in size or proof like a normal bread. They just puff a little. This is 4 hours after taking them from the fridge.
Go and preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Then line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Then boil a large pot of water until you have a good rolling boil.
One by one, take your bagels and gently add them to the water.
I would suggest about 3 or 4 at a time. Initially they will sink to the bottom. Use a fork or something to separate them a little to they don’t touch or start sticking….like they are here.
After about a minute, they will float to the surface and that’s how you know they’re ready to take out.
Use a slotted spoon to take them out and transfer to your baking sheets with parchment. Repeat until all 12 are done.
You should have two pans that look about like this.
Put them into the oven for 18-20 minutes. I took mine out at 18 minutes. Do what you feel for how much of a golden top you like. Take them and let them cool completely on a cooling rack.
That was a bit of work. But oh my, did they ever turn out beautifully.
They are dense, but still soft, with that beautiful glossy texture on the outside that we all know and love about a good bagel. These did not disappoint in that department at all.
Once they were cooled down, I cut one open and it was beautiful on the inside as well. So soft and moist and the smell was something that brought me back to a great bakery in New York we ate at many years ago. Yum!
But because I couldn’t just leave it there, I had to make it even more lovely. What should I spread on there….butter?….cream cheese?…..yeah, both of those would have been fantastic. But I decided that I needed a triple creme brie. Yeah, I wanted something rich and creamy and terribly, awfully delightful. So imported french brie it was. Come to Mama.
Although it was a bit of time and effort, this was a great recipe and I know I will make it again, and probably expand on it with different flavors and ingredient additions.
I hope that someone out there is encouraged by this to try a new bread recipe that you have never tried. It’s very satisfying and rewarding. I am not a professional cook or baker. So if I can do it, so can you! Go eat bread, my friends!
– The Homesteaders Wife