The Avid Baker's Challenge this month was not an ingredient. It was to challenge yourself with a baked good you've always wanted to make, but were hesitant about.
Instantly I thought of Homemade Bagels. I've searched high and low to find the perfect bagel and this recipe from the new (2019) Joy of Cooking is pretty close!
They're so different than baking bread, cakes, or even doughnuts. And so worth the time.
The dough isn't difficult to put together, but you have to make sure your proofing times are spot on. If you proof too long, the end result might be dense and heavy.
I found the proofing times from the Joy of Cooking are spot on and the bagels ended up chewy with a nice, kind of soft inside.
The secret to getting bagels just right is the short boiling time before baking. Go right by the times on this recipe and you'll have good luck.
I've also figured out how to knead yeast dough in my Kitchenaid mixer. It saves a little time and to be honest, kneading on the counter is kind of boring for me.
I've always admired bakers who say that kneading relaxes them and they enjoy it. Not me. Either way you knead the dough, you need to know when your dough is ready to shape and proof.
This recipe for Homemade Bagels has you knead on your counter for 10 minutes.
I kneaded my dough in the Kitchenaid for 4 ½ minutes and it was soft, elastic and you could see the 'window pane' when you stretched it between your fingers.
When twisting them into the bagel shape, try to do so where they're pretty smooth on the surface. A lot of those lumps will smooth out, but not all and you don't want wrinkly bagels!
During the final rise, make sure and start your water boiling and oven preheating, so that your dough is not over proofed - even five minutes makes a difference in the result.
Plop the bagels in the water and they'll almost immediately pop to the top of the water. Gently flip them over and count to 45, then remove with a slotted spoon, letting the extra water drip off. I set them on a baking rack just for a minute or two so they'd drain a little more.
Another thing I noticed is that the cornmeal on the baking sheet gets very brown, but don't worry about it burning. It's necessary and makes for a nice slight crunch on the bottom of the bagel.
Years ago, I made some pretzel buns that were quite good, but these Homemade Bagels are different to bake.
Have I mentioned how darned good these bagels are?
Since it makes 8, I froze most of them since I didn't want them to go stale before we had a chance to eat them. They toasted up beautifully!
I hope you take the challenge and make these. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy they were to make and am thrilled to be able to make what I think is an outstanding bagel!
- 1 C plus 1 tablespoon (265g) warm (105° to 115°) water
- 1 envelope (2 ¼ tsp) active dry yeast
- 2 ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
- 4 C (525g) bread flour, divided
- 1 tablespoon (10g) vegetable shortening, melted
- 1 ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon molasses or granulated sugar
- For the boil:
- 4 quarts water
- 1 tablespoon molasses or granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 to 3 tablespoon cornmeal (for the baking sheet)
- In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the water, yeast and sugar. Gently stir together and let sit for about a minute.
- Add 1 cup (130g) of the bread flour to the bowl, along with the vegetable shortening, salt, and molasses (or sugar). Turn mixer on low to combine.
- Gradually add the remaining flour and mix until combined. If too sticky, add 1 to 2 tablespoons to the dough.
- Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let rest for 20 minutes.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured cabinet and knead for about 10 minutes or turn mixer on low and knead that way for 4 to 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Let rest, covered with a kitchen towel for 15 minutes.
- Lightly flour your counter or marble and place the dough on it. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 10" rope, tapering the ends a little. Wet the ends to help seal and form each rope into rings, pinching the ends together to seal. Try to keep the size of the bagel even all the way around, though.
- Cover the bagels with a kitchen towel and let rise about 15 minutes, until they puff up.
- After about 5 minutes of the dough rising, go ahead and start your water boiling, along with the molasses (or sugar) and salt in a large pot or Dutch oven. Also, preheat the oven to 400°.
- After the proofing and the water is boiling, drop the bagels, 3 or 4 at a time into the water. They'll quickly float to the top, then flip them over for 45 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon or spatula and let water drip off of them before placing on a large baking sheet sprinkled with the cornmeal.
- Bake the bagels for 20 to 25 minutes, turning the baking sheet once during baking. They'll be fairly dark golden brown. Place on a rack to cool slightly or slather with cream cheese and eat immediately!
- If you're not going to eat them within one or two days, pop them in a plastic freezer bag and they'll keep a week or two that way.
Make bagel dough circles as smooth as you can - they bake up much prettier.
If you don't have molasses, go ahead and use sugar. Molasses gives the bagels a little deeper flavor, though.
Go by the proofing times - if you over proof, the bagels with be dense and tough.
Add items during the mixing time if you want to - dried cranberries, orange zest, maybe a little cinnamon. Whatever you like.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 bagel
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 283Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 678mgCarbohydrates: 57gFiber: 2gSugar: 5gProtein: 7g
Nutrition Values are Approximate