Sunday, March 02, 2014

Homemade Bagels-The Quick Version

For years, I've made bagels with an overnight rise in the fridge. The problem with that? You need to plan ahead, and be nimble enough in the morning to deal with all that boiling, baking and what not. I tried speeding the process up a bit, and these were the result. The boys said they can't tell a difference, and I imagine any subtle flavor development from a long rise would be lost once you slap cream cheese, onion, and smoked salmon on it.*
 Mr. ETB likes a slice of tomato on his lox sandwich. In Chicago, you get cream cheese, Swiss cheese, tomato, onion, lox, and sometimes a slice of cucumber. Greek olives on the side. If you're thinking that is a salad, not a sandwich, you should see what we do to a hot dog. I don't eat fish, or bread for that matter, but I can still appreciate the appeal of this as a weekend breakfast. Or "brunch" if you're sophisticated.

You Will Need:

2 1/2 cups water (room temp is fine)
4 cups Strong (bread) flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast

Mix together, cover with cling film, and let soak 30 minutes, to an hour.

Stir into the sponge:
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
2-3 or more) cups bread flour to make a very stiff dough.

Knead by hand (because this will kill the gears in a stand mixer-learn from my experience) until smooth. I won't lie-this is work. Divide the dough into about 16 pieces for normal sized bagels. You can go bigger or smaller as you please. Mini-bagels are fun for parties.

Roll into balls as you would for rolls (smoothing as you pull the dough under) and place on a cutting board or other work surface. Cover them with a damp (not wet) towel, and let rest 30 minutes.

Generously oil a baking sheet (or two if need be). Begin shaping your bagels by pushing your thumbs through the centre, then shaping around your fingers as you stretch it into bagel shape. I find this works better than rolling them into a tube shape, and pinching shut, but that's a matter of style. Your bagels-your rules.

Place bagels on baking sheet, and cover lightly with a cloth. Let rise until very light-about an hour, but as long as two depending on the temperature of your kitchen. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 500 degrees F. and bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cover a baking sheet generously with corn meal, or semolina (polenta-not corn flour, or "starch").

When ready to bake, add 1 tablespoon bicarbonate of soda to the boiling water. You may need to reduce the heat a bit to keep it from boiling over. Add the bagels a few at a time, bottom side up to the water. After 30 seconds, turn them, and let boil another 30. Remove with a slotted spoon, draining well so that the bagels aren't soaking as they go on the pan. At this point, add any toppings you may like.

When you have completed a tray, bake 5 minutes, then rotate the pan, reduce the heat to 450 degrees F. and bake another 10 minutes, or until golden. Remove to a rack and cool. Some will stick to the pan (that's a given) so have a heavy metal spatula handy to dislodge them. The cornmeal does help, as does getting the water drained.

*If you are a morning person, you can cover the shaped bagels with cling film, and set the trays in the fridge overnight. I would reduce the yeast in the second part of the recipe to a scant teaspoon as well.


pastcaring said...

Love bagels, and the Chicago version with lots of accompaniments sounds delicious. You're a culinary queen! xxx

Goody said...

I'm not, but thanks. I tend to bake once, in quantity and freeze so I can be lazy for a bit.