Monday, January 15, 2018

Homemade Bagels

One of my favorite things in the world is a good bagel.  I eat one every day for lunch.  Even when I was counting carbs (that's another post) I fit in a bagel every day.

I grew up in the "tri-state area" of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.  Pizza, bagels and indulgences such as Italian butter cookies are second to none. Bagels are plump and chewy, the butter cookies melt in your mouth and the pizza is an art form that has not been mastered here in central Pennsylvania.

Since moving to Pennsylvania, I've never found the kind of bagels that are plump, chewy and fill your guts with dough. My husband travels for work and nothing makes my heart sing like when he brings me bagels from New Jersey. There are establishments that claim to make a New York bagel, and while they are worth buying, they always fall short.

Don't sell me a 3.5 ounce bagel. If that sucker isn't at least 5 ounces I'm not happy. 

Last year I decided to make my own bagels because I was tired of constantly searching for bagels that fit the bill.  If you have experience baking breads and worked with yeast, bagel making is not difficult.  I was pleasantly surprised how fast I was able to make six bagels I actually looked forward to toasting and slathering with butter. 

This recipe I found on all recipes, and I made some changes. You don't need to buy anything fancy, just bread flour if you don't keep it stocked in the pantry. And yeast of course. 

I use my standing mixer to knead the dough, no need for a bread machine.  I suppose you could use a bread machine, but these come out great with the standing mixer method. 

For the bagels:

1 package instant yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water
4 cups bread flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 quarts water (for boiling)
2 tablespoons honey (optional)
1 lightly whisked egg (optional)
Toppings such as poppyseed, sesame seeds, cinnamon sugar, etc

In a small bowl, pour the 1 1/4 cups warm water, yeast and sugar.  Let sit about 3-5 minutes, The yeast should froth and puff - this will show you it is working.

In bowl of standing mixer, add the remaining dry ingredients.  When yeast is ready, add to dry ingredients in mixer bowl.  Using hook attachment, knead dough about 10 minutes.  The dough should form a ball and "smack" off the sides of the mixer.  Let it keep kneeding - it will be loud but it will work.

Pick up the dough, spray the mixer bowl with nonstick spray or lightly oil.  Place dough back in and turn to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel.  Let rise in a warm place about one-two hours.  I turn my oven on, preheat to 350, turn it off and place bowl inside. This warm air helps the dough to rise nicely. Dough should puff up (I'm using this word a lot today) and double in size.

Punch dough down and let rise another 30 minutes.  Again, set in a warm place.

Boil 4 quarts water and if desired, add honey. This gives the bagels a tad of sweetness, and is not necessary.  While water is heating to boil, separate dough into 6-8 balls.  I do 6 because I like a big bagel.  You can make them smaller.  After rolling dough into a ball, push floured fingers through center and work to create a ring.  set bagels on counter to rest for about 10 minutes.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Heat oven to 475.

Once water is boiling, add bagels two at a time.  Boil one minute each side. Place on parchment lined baking sheet.

If desired, brush bagels with egg.  I do this to add some color, and if I sprinkle poppyseed on top it helps the topping stick.

Bake bagels at 475 about 15 minutes until tops are just turning a nice golden color. I have read people turn off the oven and cover the bagels with foil for about ten minutes. I may try this next time, it is supposed to help with the chewy texture.

Eat immediately - or if you can resist - allow to cool and freeze.  Remember this is fresh bread without preservatives...so they won't keep longer than about two days.  I take one out of the freezer every morning.

*Tip...do not let bagels rise longer than two hours. When you leave yeast to work too long you will notice a "yeast" flavor and these won't be enjoyable!*

Have a great week!


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