A week or so ago, a friend's wife posted a picture of a dozen bagels she made. They were perfect. I buy bagels every week from Meijer's. I've found them to be far better than any commercial bagel and better than many specialty shops. But, could we make them ourselves?
Mom was game so a couple of days ago, while the wind blew snow squalls and made the day miserable, we set out to make a batch. We cut the recipe in half. Six bagels will handle my needs for six weeks (I eat half a bagel at a time, twice a week).
We've found King Arthur bread flour to be the best flower for our automatic bread maker and so we went to then to find their bagel recipe. It's what our friend used. Care to see the recipe? Click here
As directed, Mom made a starter the night before. I'm not sure that's necessary, though. We mixed it with the rest of the ingredients and kneaded the dough until it was well-worked and elastic.
I found the dough a bit sticky to handle well so added a bit of flour to my hands (and the pastry cloth). It feels like bread dough, of course. It is bread dough.
The trick in making good bagels is the water bath, I think. This recipe calls for a little brown sugar in the water. I think an actual lye bath would improve the appearance but that step isn't called for in this recipe.
How to manage the perfectly round shape, though? I suppose the dough balls could be flattened and cut out with a large biscuit cutter. The hole in the center might be made with a small cutter or even a deep bottle cap. In any case, our bagels are hardly round and as I handled them, placing them in the water bath, they elongated a bit. Our finished product has an unusual shape!
Nevertheless, they taste pretty much like traditional bagels. We used our oven's broiler to add the extra browning to the top (the bottoms had browned on the cookie sheet).
It's not a quick process, particularly if the starter is made the night before. There are several rises required for the dough. But, with time, the process will get ever-easier.
Still, fresh bagels at Pinehaven. On a cold, winter's day, what could be finer than a bagel and a glass of beer?