April 30, 2012

Homemade Bagels

by

Easy Home made bagels

I was probably 6 or 7 the first time I made bagels with my mom. We attended a Jewish military chapel (my grandpa was retired military) and one of the events regularly held was a breakfast. It was a great way for soldiers to relax and meet local people who had ‘been there, done that’. My mom decided to make bagels rather than buy them. Not sure what possessed her into thinking that making 200 bagels was a great idea, but that’s just the kind of mom she was – going the extra mile because it was what she thought was a good idea.

My mom had been making bagels for years so I had watched her make them many times. It wasn’t until I actually got to mix and measure and shape the bagels that I realized how really easy they were to make. And the taste? So much better than store bought! Maybe they’re not as perfect (well, mine aren’t) but that crunchy outside and soft inside is what bread-baking dreams are made of.

I’ve made bagels before but never shared the recipe, just thinking that everyone knows how to make bagels. Except, I’ve recently learned  that’s not the case. Don’t be afraid to work with yeast or dough. These are simple ingredients and even if yours don’t come out all that bagel-ish looking the first time, keep making them. They may not look perfect but they will taste better than any store-bought bagel you’ve ever had.

Delicious Homemade Bagels

2 tsp Dry Yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
1 1/4 cups Warm Water (divided, so check instructions)
3 1/2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, plus extra for kneading
1 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Sprinkle sugar then yeast into 1/2 cup of the warm water (you should be able to stir the water with your finger without it being too hot) in a small bowl or glass measuring cup. Let stand for 5 minutes then stir to dissolve. You want your yeast to bloom and get foamy and frothy so make sure your bowl or measuring cup is about double the size you really need. If you let it go for more than 5 minutes it will continue to grow, so don’t let it go beyond 10 minutes or it won’t be able to do its job later.

In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt together. You want to make sure you mix these two ingredients together because salt will kill your yeast if it’s alone. Mixing the salt and flour protects the chemical effects of the salt on the yeast. Yay, chemistry! Form a well in the center of your flour/salt mixture and pour in the dissolved yeast. It doesn’t have to be perfect so if the yeast goodness spills over the flour it’s OK. You’ll be mixing it up. The purpose of the well is to give you better control over the mixing process.

Next, pour HALF of the remaining water into the well. Remember, only HALF of the water! If you pour it all it’s a glue-y mess and that’s not delicious. You’ll end up adding the rest of the water little by little as you need it. Now, mix the dry ingredients (flour/salt mixture) with the yeast and water. It will become dry and you’ll think there’s no way this will ever form a nice dough with all this flour still in the bowl. So now, add in the reserved water a tablespoon or two at a time to make the dough begin to come together, forming a firm and moist dough. It’s OK if you don’t use all the water. The amount of water you need will depend on the conditions in your home. Here in Arizona in the summer I use all the water, and sometimes a little more. In the winter, I don’t use all the water.

Once your dough has come together, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Gradually work in as much additional flour as possible while comfortably kneading to form a stiff and firm dough. This isn’t exact so you’ll need to sprinkle your counter top with enough flour so the dough ball won’t stick. If you need help figuring out how to knead dough this video should help.

Once the dough has been kneaded for 10 minutes, it needs to rest and rise. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat it. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size. You’ll want to make sure it’s in a warm area with no draft or the dough won’t rise. This is when you’ll see the yeast at work for the second time. Punch down (which is just fancy baker talk for deflate) the now airy dough puff, and let the dough rest 10 minutes.

While the dough is resting, you’ll want to get your water ready. You’ll need an 8-10 quart pot filled with water. Bring the water to a boil, then turn down so the water is at a simmer.

Next, Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball. This is how I learned how to make bagels. Some people will roll out the dough into long strands and then connect them. My mom said that doing it this way make it easier to keep the bagels round and not handle them too much which makes them tough and hard to chew.

I cut off a piece of dough and roll it lightly on the countertop or in my hands. You just don’t want to handle it too long. Before rolling, press down on the dough lightly to get rid of air bubbles and roll the dough between your palm and the work surface to form a smooth ball. Coat a finger in flour and press it through each ball to form a ring.

How To Make Bagels

Work the rest of your fingers into the hole, stretching the ring lightly and widening the hole to about 1/3 of the bagel’s diameter. The hole needs to be large enough because these will puff up again and if there isn’t enough space then the dough will close up.

Once the bagels are formed, place them on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Yes, this is a bit of a time consuming process, but you will be rewarded!

While you’re checking your water to make sure it’s still at a boil, let the bagels rest for 10 minutes.

Boiling Bagels

Now that your water is at a simmer, it’s time to boil the bagels. This is what will cause the bagels to rise again and give it that nice crust when they are baked.

Depending on the size of your pot, place the bagels into the water in batches of 2 or three. You don’t want them crowded or they will get all glue-y. Boil the bagels, uncovered, until they rise to the surface, about 1 -2 minutes. Turn the bagels over once. I use chopstick to flip them so they don’t get squished or deflated. Allow the bagels to boil for another minute.

Remove the bagels from the pot using a slotted spoon, letting the water drain. Place on a wire rack to make sure water drips off. Let the bagels sit for a few minutes then transfer them to a lightly oiled or parchment-covered baking sheet.

In a 425-degree oven, bake the bagels approximately 20 minutes, until golden. Remove and cool on a wire rack.

Serve warm with butter and jam or allow to fully cool and serve with cream cheese. If they are too hot, the cream cheese gets too melty. Not that it’s a bad thing, but some people don’t like that.

These bagels will be more rustic looking than the ones you buy. They are so delicious and tender and chewy, that their shape doesn’t matter. If you let them fully cool, they are great for sandwiches.

Fresh Bagels

What do you like on your bagels?

Sara

{ 2 comments }

Kate @ Songs Kate Sang May 2, 2012 at 9:31 pm

these look amazing! I’m gonna have to try this 🙂

Sara May 2, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Kate, they really are easy. The most difficult part is the waiting for them to rise and then to bake. I hope you make them and then tell me how they came out.

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