Like many others around DC, I turned to baking to stave off boredom during the Snowmageddon/Snowpocalypse blizzards of 2010. And with all that time on my hands, I decided to take the plunge and bake the bagels I’d skipped over in the Bread Baker’s Apprenticechallenge. You see, the book goes alphabetically and there was no way I felt ready to tackle bagels on just my third attempt! Especially not when I’m married to a New Yorker with rather high bagel expectations.
These bagels were much more labor intensive than my previous breads. The dough quickly becomes stiff and tough to mix, so much so that my KitchenAid gave up before the final addition of flour. I mixed the remainder in by hand and began to knead, but it was so stiff that I ignored the warnings of other BBA bloggers and put it back in my KitchenAid … when the motor began to smoke three minutes later, it was back to kneading by hand. I probably kneaded about 15 minutes in total, letting it rest for several minutes midway through. After letting the balls of dough rest, I shaped them into bagel shapes and let them rest again. After 20 minutes, you’re supposed to plop them in a bowl of water and hope they float. Mine did not. Not after another 20 minutes, and not an hour plus later. I gave up and stuck the bagels out in the (non-heated) sunroom over night — our fridge was a little too full with blizzard supplies.
The next day, they didn’t seem to have risen at all. I let them sit on the dining room table for a couple hours, tried the float test again, and they still failed. I wasn’t going to give up at this point, so I went ahead and put a large pot of water on to boil and preheated the oven. This time they finally floated (I’m sure the boiling helped) and after boiling 1 minute on each side I placed them back on their trays to be topped. Of course, I discovered then I was out of poppy seeds, so I used a sea salt, sesame seed and garlic powder blend for most of them. I added caraway seeds to a couple, and cinnamon sugar on the last three. Then they bake in the oven, at 500 degrees, for 10 minutes. Now this is probably obvious to most people, but 500 degrees is HOT. I had to put my husband’s ove-glove (he’s a sucker for infomercials) on under my oven mitt to handle the trays while I transferred the bagels to the cooling rack.
We had the first round for lunch, topped with cream cheese and my mayo-free salmon salad. A little lettuce and tomato would’ve been nice, but, well, we were running low on fresh produce. (See aforementioned Snowmageddon. And, being February, I would’ve passed on those bland winter tomatoes anyway.)
Next time I might boil a little longer for a chewier crust, but these were pretty darn close to the real deal. My Jew-from-Flushing husband, who had skeptically asked if I wanted him to be honest or polite when he tasted them, actually liked them! I doubt we’ll stop going to Slim’s when we’re in New York, but these are a pretty good substitute … as long as you have a few hours to devote to baking them. I do want to try them again in the summer to top with fresh tomatoes and lox.
And as you can tell, the boy was perfectly content with his (with a hearty schmear of cream cheese, hold the fish!):