I’ve been interested in making bagels for a long time, but I could never get around to doing it. One drawback is that it’s at least a two-day process and I’m kinda impatient. But I’m still in slow-mo mode from being on vacation, so this was a good time to give it a try.
The recipe was pretty accurate in direction with one exception. The dough. I’ve never worked with dough that was so tough! The directions kept saying to make the dough smooth. This was next to impossible for me. The longer I kneaded it, the tougher it became. I was hoping that it might smooth out a bit after the first rise. Nope. I tried kneading it by hand instead of in the mixer the second time, but I didn’t have enough spinach that day, so my dough remained a stringy, knobby mess.
After reading both methods for shaping the bagels (rope vs poke), I decided to go with poking a hole in the center and forming the bagel that way. There was no way I was going to be able to roll a rope with this stuff, let alone have it fuse together into a circle. I had to just cut off a hunk and start poking. They looked like the first ashtray or bowl your kid would make for you in ceramics class. Oh well, I made peace with their Frankenstein-y looks, put them on a baking sheet and then into the fridge to rise overnight.
Boiling day. As the bagels are coming to room temp waiting to go into the boil, the dough is starting to smooth out a bit (just a tiny bit), and that makes me happy. I boil them and add poppy seeds to a few before putting them into the oven. I bake them just shy of the recommended time because they are really starting to brown and I was afraid of over-baking them. I let them cool for about 30 minutes as recommended, took a bite and holy crap they tasted like real bagels. Crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside, very similar to the ones I had in New York. It was like magic.
I had a lot of fun with this recipe and I’m looking forward to perfecting it!
Poppy Seed Bagels
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (9 oz) lukewarm water (about 95°F)
- 3 1/2 cups bread flour
- 2 to 3 quarts water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
In a small bowl combine lukewarm water, honey, yeast and salt. Place the flour into a bowl of a stand mixer and add the yeast mixture. Attach the dough hook and mix on the lowest speed until well blended, about 3 minutes The dough should form a stiff, coarse ball, and the flour should be fully hydrated; if it isn’t, stir in a little more water. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes. Resume mixing with the dough hook on the lowest speed for another 3 minutes. The dough should be stiff yet supple, with a satiny, barely tacky feel. If the dough seems too soft or overly tacky, mix in a little more flour.
Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise at room temperature for 1 hour.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with pan coating. Divide the dough into 6 to 8 equal pieces. Form each piece into a loose ball by rolling it on a clean, dry work surface with a cupped hand. Poke a hole through the center of the ball to create a donut shape. Holding the dough with both thumbs in the hole, rotate the dough with your hands, gradually stretching it to create a hole about 2 inches in diameter.
Place each shaped bagel on the parchment lined sheet pan, then spray lightly with pan coating. Cover the entire pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days.
Remove the bagels from the refrigerator 60 to 90 minutes before you plan to bake them. Immediately check whether the bagels are ready for baking using the “float test”: Place one of the bagels in a small bowl of cold water. If it sinks and doesn’t float back to the surface, shake it off, return it to the pan, and wait for another 15 to 20 minutes, then test it again. When one bagel passes the float test, they’re all ready to be boiled. About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 500°F and set aside poppy seeds.
To make the poaching liquid, fill a pot with 2 to 3 quarts of water, making sure the water is at least 4 inches deep. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain at a simmer. Stir in the honey, baking soda, and salt.
Gently lower each bagel into the simmering poaching liquid, adding as many as will comfortably fit in the pot. They should all float to the surface within 15 seconds. After 1 minute, use a slotted spoon to turn each bagel over. Poach for another 30 to 60 seconds, then use the slotted spoon to transfer it back to the pan, domed side up. (It’s important that the parchment paper be lightly oiled, or the paper will glue itself to the dough as the bagels bake.) Sprinkle on a generous amount of poppy seeds as soon as the bagels come out of the water.
Transfer the pan of bagels to the oven, then lower the oven heat to 450°F.
Bake for 8 minutes, then rotate the pan and check the underside of the bagels. If they’re getting too dark, place another pan under the baking sheet. (Doubling the pan will insulate the first baking sheet.) Bake for another 8 to 12 minutes, until the bagels are a golden brown.
Cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing or serving.
Adapted from Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Everyday