Not as hard as I had thought
There are some things in the world of cooking and baking that I had always assumed were just too hard to do. There are some food items that we just assume are best left to the professionals. One of them, was bagel baking. When ever you read about baking bagels there is all sorts of discussion about the right water and how hard it is to make a good bagel. I learned that it actually isn’t all that hard to produce a credible bagel.
When we were in Israel, we spent one night at Hedva’s house. When we came into her beautiful home late in the afternoon, Hedva set us to work rolling bagels out from the dough that was prepared in a big bowl. Hedva is a big believer in the evils of white flour, so she made a whole wheat dough. We rolled out snakes of dough and formed them into bagels. Hedva boiled the bagels to a count of ten . She ten topped the bagels with a zaatar and olive oil mix. She then baked the bagels in a hot oven. They were delicious, but not exactly bagels.
I realized that the process was far simpler than I had thought. The day we got home I mixed up a bread dough.
My bread dough
2 c water heated for 1 minute in a microwave
add to large bowl
add 1 + 1/4 tsp dry yeast to water
ass 1 tsp flour to help feed the yeast
allow to sit for 5 minutes
add 1 T salt
1 tsp sugar
4 T dried gluten
while stirring, add as much flour as the dough can hold – after the dough gats thick mix with your hand. knead until the dough is fairly stiff..but not dry. knead in the bowl until the mixture is coherent and is no longer a sloppy mess.
cover with a towel and allow to rise for 2 hours
If you want to make bagels, this is how you proceed. Put a pot of water up to boil. I baked my bagels at 425, I’m still experimenting with the right temperature, 400 might be better. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
flour a surface to hold formed bagels. Punch down the dough and knead. if needed, add enough flour so the dough isn’t sticky. Pull off finger sized pieces of dough. Roughly roll into a snake , twist and form into a circle. Then set on the floured surface. Twisting the dough just makes for a prettier bagel. Form several bagels as you wait for the water to boil.
Once the water boils expand the hole in your bagels a bit.The bagels will rise as they are waiting to be boiled and the hole you previously made will close up. Then, toss three or four formed raw bagels into the boiling water. Let them boil until they rise to the top of the water ( like one does with a dumpling or with gnocci).They can even stay in for a few moments longer. The bagels will grow in the water. The outer surface will cook slightly which will make them shiny after they are baked.
Fish the boiled bagels out of the water with a spatula or slotted spoon and place on prepared baking sheet. Fill the baking sheet with boiled bagels and bake until golden brown.
I made two batches yesterday. The whole process, from beginning to end, takes less than three hours. I realized that boiling the bagels both speeds the rising process as well as cutting the baking time. Making the bagels, I realized that bagels were probably invented to both save on fuel and on time. Yes, I will make them again.