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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Quick Breads: Bagels

I love bagels.

I don't eat them that much, but in my eyes, there are few things that are a better way to start the day than a freshly baked bagel with cream cheese and lox.  The nice thing about bagels is that they take very little time to prepare.  Inside of an hour and a half, you go from flour to noshing.

I got this recipe from somewhere on the internet a million years ago.  It's easy, and the bagels are to die for.

Here are the ingredients:

  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 Tbls sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsps salt
  • 1 Tbls vegetable oil
  • 2 tsps yeast
  • 1-1/2 cups of warm water
Take a half cup of the warm water, sprinkle a pinch of sugar, and mix in the yeast.  Let it "bloom" for about 5 minutes.

After the yeast has bloomed, add all of the rest of the ingredients to a bowl, and combine well.  Place the dough on a hard, sturdy, flat surface and start kneeding it.  You need to kneed to dough for 10 minutes.  This is very important to ensure you get that good, chewy bagel.  You should end up with a smooth, almost tough dough.

Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces and roll each up into a ball.  They should look like this -

Cover them with a towel, and let them rest for 20 minutes.

You then want to turn them into their bagel shape.  I picked this tip up watching some cooking show on TV:  You take a ball and press your thumb and index finger together in its center - punching through the ball (almost like you're making an 'OK' sign with your hand).  Then put the index fingers from each hand into the hole from opposite sides of the ball.  You now twirl your hands in a circular motion while slightly pulling outwards.  This elongates the hole, giving you an exaggerated bagel shape.  They should now look like this -

Cover them up with a towel again, and let them rest another 20 minutes.

While they're resting, start up a pot of boiling water.  The wider the pot, the better.  The bigger the opening, the more bagels you'll be able to boil at one time.  You only need to add 3 or 4 inches of water, though.

After your 20 minute wait, turn your oven on to 425F.  Take your bagels, and drop them in the water.  As you can see, I can comfortably fit 3 bagels at a time.  Don't crowd them, as they tend to puff up once they hit the water.  You boil them for 1 minute, then flip them over and boil for another minute.

If you want to add a topping, now is when you do it.  For this batch, one half was sesame seeds (kind of tough to see - click the image for a better look-see) and the other half was poppy seeds.  I take the bagels out of the water, put them on a towel to let them cool for just a second, then put them top-down into a bowl with the topping.

Put them on a cookie sheet that you've sprayed with cooking spray.

Throw them in the oven for 10 minutes.  You then flip them.... yes, even the ones with the toppings, and bake for another 10 minutes.

Viola!, fresh bagels.  Let them sit for 5 or 10 minutes to cool off, then chow down.

If you like your bagels with a smaller hole, just don't stretch it out as much when you're doing the elongation.  Also, if you want a bit more "tang" to your bagels, after you've made the hole in them, let them rest for an hour or more (instead of just 20 minutes).  They'll puff up a bit more, and the yeast will begin "souring" the dough some.

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As you can see from the ingredients list, these are dirt-cheap to make.  They will only take an hour and a half of your time - and most of that is waiting while the dough rests.  I was working from my home office today, and made them while I was working on paperwork.

I have no idea how long they will last.  I've never had a batch that makes it through the day!  I'd guess that if you put them in a zip lock after they've cooled, they be good for a couple of days, at least.

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.


Tracy Dear said...

I was just creating a master list of wheat-based breads and was dejected to see how many called for what I consider non-survival ingredients, like milk or something. Thanks!

Chief Instructor said...

Mama, they are so easy to make, it's ridiculous. A reader sent me an email suggesting letting them do their rise - after the elongation - at night, then just doing the boil and bake the next morning. They said the flavor increase is incredible.

gralan said...

If you use 1/2 of the liquid (in this case water) and add the same amount of water from boiling potatoes together, any baked goods will last appreciably longer than regular. I made biscuits with this trick from the late 1800s, they stayed fresh in the cupboard sealed in a breadloaf bag for 4 days. I had eaten them all by that time, so I don't know how much longer. I discovered this trick in a 19th century newspaper published just across the NM border from El Paso Texas._ga-