Friday, February 13, 2009

I feel like Neo in the Matrix with the whole "I know kung fu" except its "I know how to make bagels" and also Morpheus is a kindly old Jewish Bubbeh.

Okay, so my latest bread-related conquest is bagels. Everybody (even my dad!) loves these in my family, and so many people are dependent on places like Panera Bread to fleece them for some breakfast. While bagel shops can make tasty bagels at times, having the ability to have control over the process is awesome.

Here's what you need:

  • 3 1/4 cups bread flour, plus a little extra set aside
  • 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt (already mixed in the flour in that picture)
  • 2 teaspoons of dry yeast
  • Whatever you want to top your bagel with (optional)
Okay, put the sugar in the bowl with half a cup of the water and the yeast. Let it sit and give the yeast some time to wake up, then stir it a little.

Form a well in your flour bowl, and gently pour in your yeast mix. On top of that, pour half of the reserved water in.

Stir from the center, gradually working in more flour. Add a little more water to make it a viable dough. You want to just barely get it to come together, because this should be a really firm dough with a lot of flour relative to water. Once it forms, knead that on a floured bench for ten minutes. You'll get worn out from this if you aren't careful. No pics of mixing / kneading due to my hands being criminally filthy.

After the mix and knead, I chafed the dough down a bit, and dropped it into an oiled bowl to sit for an hour, covering it with a wet paper towel as I finished.

An hour gives the yeast plenty of time to make little air bubbles in the dough. Should be double its size, or roughly such:

Punch that down and let it rest for ten minutes, then take a sharp knife and cut your dough into eight pieces.

With each piece, give it a good firm roll on the table, maybe chafe it a little to smooth it into a ball. Flour your index finger and poke a hole in the middle, gently pushing through and tucking the loose ends in with finger and thumb. Gently widen the hole, making the bagel uniform as you go, until you've got something like this:

Cover those with a damp towel and let rest for another 10 minutes.

Now here's the fun part. While they're resting, fill a pot about halfway with water and bring the heat to a boil, then back down to simmer. While you're at it, pre-heat your oven to 425. With a simmer, add each bit of bagel dough gently into the water.

Flip em when a minute is up, and when another minute passes, transfer them with a slotted skimmer to your baking sheet. If you're topping them with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, or things like that, now's the time to add them to the top.

They're ready to bake. Pop em in the oven for 20 minutes, and if you're a steam fiend like me, apply as needed. They come out something like this:

Let them cool, set one aside, and while it's still warm, cut it open and enjoy the chewy amazingness. Seriously, never give another bagel shop money if you can get these so easily.

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