There is a group of food bloggers out there in the wilds of the internet known as the Daring Bakers. They’ve made some crazy, elaborate things that I would never even dare to try, lacking both the time and cash to do so, but this month they made bagels. Reading a number of Daring Baker posts on these tasty breakfast breads, it became clear that their was a wide variety of success and failure rates, and most people said that the bagels were good, but didn’t look as expected. I made bagels once, I think when I was a teenager, and I don’t remember it going well. I decided that now was the time to try again.
The Daring Bakers worked with the recipe found here, and one glance at it and you’ll notice that this is hardly a simple recipe–it’s practically a novel. Bagels contain a minimum of ingredients–yeast, flour, sugar, salt, water–but a multitude of steps. The first step was to proof the yeast, make the dough, let it rise and then form the bagels. Here are mine. You let them rise only briefly once you shape them.
All bagels feature an initial cooking phase of boiling. You drop your bagels into a pot of boiling water with a little sugar. My bagels, which were previously about 4″ across, grew enormously. Here they are in the pot. The surface of the bagels became all bumpy during this stage, which, from what I gather from the Daring Bakers, is common, but kind of ruined the nice smooth exterior I expected.
A lot of my bagels took a bit of a beating coming out of the hot water, as my spider skimmer thing is only so wide, and dented them a bit. It was a shame, but there wasn’t much I could do. Once they’re boiled, the bagels sit on a clean dishtowel, and you can coat them with an egg wash and add toppings. I added poppy seeds to two, sesame seeds to two, kosher salt to two, and left two plain.
Then the bagels are baked in a 400 F oven, and flipped over partway through the baking. This was done in order to keep them from flattening on one side, but several of my bagels became flattened on both sides as a result.
Here are the finished bagels–the ones that didn’t flatten. They’re very tasty, though not as toothsome as I would have liked, and a bit more bready than bagely on the inside. I look at it as a lesson–now I know I can do it, so I’ll look at some other recipes and try it again sometime. I only made a half-batch, and we’ve polished off four already. Sadly, there isn’t any cream cheese in the house, but they’ve been good with butter and blueberry jam. If you have two hours to kill and are looking for a challenge, bagel making will both eat that time and offer you the opportunity!