I love bagels. I wanted to learn to make delicious ones at home. I was surprised at how simple it really is.
I recently got a jar of Trader Joe's Everything But the Bagel seasoning. I spent a couple days thinking about odd things to season, and decided to try this on some soft pretzels I was baking. An everything homemade bagel pretzel tasted exactly like an everything bagel. I experienced one of those disquietingly odd food-a-tory illusions. Expecting pretzel, my tastebuds instead got bagel with every bite.
Later that evening, I spoke with my cooking consigliere, a gentleman who claims to be the best chef in the greater Puget Sound area. He laughed at my bagel/pretzel revelation, and called me something you'd hear on Fox News. I share with you a refined version of his culturally insensitive commentary: depending on your frame of experience and reference, a pretzel is merely a salted and twisted German bagel OR a bagel is a lazy Jewish pretzel.
I'm a lazy Jew. I decided to bake some bagels.
After consulting with the Oracle of Delphi (internet forum searches,) I settled on a recipe I suspected would make really great "New York-Style" bagels.
I am honestly confused by the assertion that New York bagels are the best bagels. Having spent considerable time on the Island of Manhattan, and in the borough of Brooklyn, I can say sometimes bagels and pizza are good. I've also lived in Chicago, and the pizza there isn't special. Regardless, that is the bagel I modeled after even though I feel it is same-same with the Los Angeles' renowned "Western Bagel." San Francisco, the region I currently live in, can't make a bagel, or any culturally Jewish food outside of Americanized Chinese. I think it's all about someone wanting to make good stuff, and not so much "the water."
As my insensitive chef friend said, both the recipe and process for bagels is quite similar to pretzels. If you're an amateur baker who can already make half-decent pretzels at home, I believe that like me, with this recipe you will discover that you can make a bagel to be proud of.
Boing Boing's Lets Make Bagels, Bagel Bonanza recipe
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of white sugar
- 2 teaspoons your favorite active dry yeast
- 3 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- Your bagel seasoning(s) of choice
Gettin' to it:
- Step 1: Add the sugar and yeast to 1/2 cup warm water. Mix gently and allow 5-10 minutes for the yeast to wake. Do not bruise the yeast.
- Step 2: Mix flour and salt in large bowl. Prepare your kneading surface. I use a silicone pastry mat.
- Step 3: Combine the yeasted water, flour, and add the additional 1 cup of water. You may need a bit more water, or to add a little flour to dry things out, depending on elevations. If you are in UTAH, good luck, Xeni. Mix this until you have a firm and MOIST ball of dough. MOIST MOIST MOIST
- Step 4: Dial into a conference call with the rest of the Boingers. Knead dough for 8-12 minutes. When it is firm and stiff, place the dough ball in a lightly oiled bowl, roll that ball around for coverage, and then cover the bowl with whatever your God says to cover a rising dough ball with, in your culture. I use a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise about 1 hour until it doubles in size.
- Step 5: Ask Alexa for your "Flash news briefing" and then punch that dough down! Let the dough rest, again, while you pre-heat the oven to 425F and start a large pot of water boiling.
- Step 6: Gently divide the dough into 6 equal sized balls (or however many you want of whatever size. I fucking hate the idea you have to make them all the same. Uniformity is only cool when that's what the artist wants. BE YOU.) Roll the balls in your hands until the balls are spherical.
- Step 7: Making holes in bagels is surprisingly easy. There is no magic. Dip your index finger in some flour and then gently poke and prod at the center of a dough ball. Eventually, if you perservere, you'll burst through the dough ball. Use your fingers to widen the hole to approximately 1/3 the size of the bagel. Things should now be looking pretty much like you've got raw bagels.
- Step 8: Place your bagels into the boiling water. I found that my bagels floated immediately, and never sank. These bagels were fluffy from the yeast and resting. Unlike pretzels that sink in their baking soda or lye laden bath. Give each bagel about two minutes per-side in the boiling water. This is reputedly where the chewy "New York-style" will come from. Remove and place pre-bagel on a baking sheet. The boiled bagels resemble what I imagined, as a child, E.T. turds to look like. I cover my baking sheets with parchment paper, or a silicone baking mat.
- Step 9: If you want to season a bagel, do so immediately before placing in the oven. Everything But the Bagel is one hell of a choice. Bake for 19-21 minutes.
- Step 10: BAGELS!!!!!!!!!!
My daughter and I were astonished at how good these are.