The last time I made bagels was a few years ago P.B. (pre-blogging) when I made cute little tasty mini chocolate chip bagels. So delicious with cream cheese. Since it had been a while, I decided to try out The Fresh Loaf recipe for bagels. The recipe is for a plain bagel and starts with a sponge, then after the bagels are shaped they rest in the fridge overnight, which further develops the flavor and also is flexible. These are also boiled, which is really the only way to make a bagel.
Besides the boiling before baking, the other difference between a regular bread recipe and a bagel recipe is that the dough for bagels is much thicker, and to give you a comparison, there is about 7 cups of flour for about 12 4 ounce bagels (for my bagels, I portioned the dough out into 3 ounce balls), vs two loaves of bread with around 16 slices a loaf. Yet while bagels are dense, they shouldn't be heavy. The crust should be chewy and a bit crackly and break away into a fluffy, sturdy, and chewy crumb. Bagels really are deceptive.
For further reading, I recommend an article from The New York Times (read it now for free before you have to pay), Was Life Better When Bagels Were Smaller?
While the dough rises overnight, let's play Cotton Towel Rorschach!
The first one reminds me of some strange human figure. Or maybe an amoeba.
The second figure looks like a freaked out ostrich. Maybe after it realized the size of eggs it lays.
Lastly, the figure reminds me of either a vulture or the bald eagle that tried to carry Fivel away.
Back to the bagels.
Once the bagels have proofed overnight, you carefully drop them in to a pot of boiling water mixed with baking soda. Unfortunately, maybe the dough wasn't as thick as it needed to be because my fingertips dimpled the bagel rings rather unattractively when I lifted them to plop in the pot. I was hoping the boiling might poof them back out, but no dice. Once placed on the sheet next to the risen bagels, they looked dimply and deflated.
Obviously they grew a bit, but they also deflated. Rather disappointing. I also played around with the baking temperature and time since I felt they needed to be baked longer to achieve a golden texture.
So how do you show a picture of bagels that didn't come out how you expect? You gather the best looking bagels to make it seem like they did!
As for the taste, they were pretty good, and definitely better than what you can find in the freezer section just by being homemade. For not having anything but flour and water (and salt), the taste was also good. The crust was a bit chewy and the insides soft and chewy, too, though overall they didn't remind me of my favorite bagel place, where they are also boiled in the traditional manner.
The innards shot was lovely since it had structured holes that I see sometimes in bagels.
I definitely need to work on bagel skills. Next recipe I try is a recommendation from my mom, who likes the bagels from The Joy of Baking.
These bagels will be my contribution to YeastSpotting this week. Check it out to see some great bread ideas!