Thursday, March 11, 2010

Whole Grain Bagels

It was just a little chilly in the apartment the other night, so after dinner I decided it was time to turn on the oven.... for bagels.

I've never made them before. Peter Reinhart has a recipe floating around foodblogs that I'm sure is fantastic, but it's a multi-day process and I wanted something to bake posthaste... I found a home-style recipe that used a one-hour rise and decided if that could still produce an identifiable bagel, I could tweak it for whole grains and flavor.They're excellent. They came out of the oven much softer than a standard bagel, and the one I cut while it was still warm gave off a lot of steam and was still so moist inside I wondered if my slap-dash recipe was off, or if you're just supposed to wait until they cool [and finish cooking from the inside] before you cut them.
The next morning, sliced and toasted, I experienced bagel nirvana. The outside was perfectly crisp, the toasted cut side nice and crunchy, and the interior was so soft. I'm not going to say they're authentic, but they were pretty darn tasty... and who wants to boil and bake before breakfast? I think I'll keep my nighttime recipe and enjoy my ready-to-go bagels the morning after.

Recipe: Whole Grain Bagels
These take about 2 hours start to finish, mostly hands-off. I used 1/2 sourdough starter for extra flavor but the rise came from the instant yeast... you can approximate the flavor by adding a tablespoon of Marmite [or Vegemite] or replacing the water with a lager beer like Budwiser, Narragansett [for the Yanks], or Lone Star [for the Texans].

For the bagels:
1/2 cup rye flour
1 1/2 -2 cups white whole wheat flour, more as needed
2 Tbs oil
1 Tbs sorghum [or barley malt, or molasses]
3/4 cup warm water or lager [~110F]
1 Tbs + 2tsp instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt

For the boiling water:
2 Tbs baking soda
1 Tbs sorghum [or selected substitution]
2 tsp salt

For baking glaze:
1 egg white
1 Tbs water
optional black sesame, white sesame, poppy, caraway, or celery seeds; onion or pepper flakes; garlic or kosher salt; or any combination thereof

Combine all bagel ingredients except salt in the bowl of a standing mixer. Stir by hand ~1 minue until all flour is hydrated. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 17 minutes for gluten formation.

Add salt, attach dough hook, and mix on medium low (#4) for 7 minutes. After 5 minutes, check the dough and if it doesn't pull away from the sides, add additional flour, 2 Tbs at a time, until it does. The dough will be tacky, but it shouldn't be sticky [or: it'll be clingy, but it should stick to itself more than you... is that better?].

Coat a bowl with non-stick spray. Transfer dough to bowl, spray top lightly, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled ~1 hour.

Turn on your oven to 500F. Punch dough down [I love punching dough] and scrape onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 8 equal pieces (~3 oz each), and roll into balls. Poke an index finger through the middle of each ball, wiggle it until you can get your other index finger in from the other side, and tumble your fingers one over the other to stretch the hole evenly* to a 2" diameter [the ones pictured were a bit bigger]. Cover with a light towel or plastic wrap and let rest 20 minutes.

While formed bagels are resting, find the widest pot you own** and fill with ~2" of water. Add soda and sweetener and bring to a boil. [Turn down to a simmer if it gets there well before the bagels are finished resting, then turn back up when they're ready to go.] Place a parchment-covered or oiled baking sheet as close as possible.

Gently drop 3-4 bagels into the water. [Don't go much over half full, they'll expand quite a bit.] Boil on one side for 2 minutes, then use a spatula to flip them over and boil another 2 minutes. Transfer to the baking sheet and repeat with remaining bagels. [They will look soggy and sad, but that's perfectly okay.]

Once all the bagels have been boiled, brush with egg wash and coat with desired toppings. Transfer to the oven and bake 10-12 minutes or until nicely golden brown, rotating the pan after 5 minutes.

Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely before slicing and toasting.

* Try it, it'll make sense as you go.
** I imagine you could use a roasting pan over two burners, but I haven't tried it.

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