Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Grail Quest (bagel quest)

I have recently been on a quest to make a perfect bagel.  It all started with one of my favorite blogs making bagels, and ended in my being obsessed with them.

I must say that I did not expect to find so many variations of how to make bagels.  They all did have the common theme of boil them first and then bake them, and that's where the similarities end.  In the end, I have selected my favorite.  The horses and the birds also have their favorites of my failures!

I started with just a basic bread recipe, my favorite can be found here, and while they looked great in the beginning, and they did taste good, they kind of looked terrible.

The brownish ones in this pan are cinnamon walnut, and the red/pinkish ones are apple strawberry.  The horses LOVED the apple strawberry!

My third try went a little better.  Same recipe but this time I was going for a cinnamon crunch like bagel.  After I boiled the bagels, but before I baked them, I dipped them in a mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon and finely crushed pecans.

These were just boiled.  They look a little like an under done dumpling, and feel squishy.

Topped with the cinnamon/sugar/nut mixture.  Then baked.

They were pretty yummy, but still I thought they could be better.  The horses also liked these, but the cows would have nothing to do with them.  They demanded cookies!

"Lady, quit taking our pictures and give us our stinking cookies."  Then they found out I only had second rate bagels and left.

So, I looked for another bagel recipe, and finally settled on this oneIt came with rave reviews, and I decided to try it.  The recipe was very similar to my original one, but turned out much better.  Could be the cook is getting better too!

Homemade bagel recipe
4 cups bread flour
1 Tbls sugar
1 1/2 tsps salt
1 Tbls vegetable oil
2 tsps instant yeast
1-1/4- 1-1/2 cups of warm water.

Contrary to the original recipe, I combined the warm water, yeast, sugar and salt and let it proof for 5 minutes.  Then I added the oil and 2 cups of flour.  When that was combined, I added the final 2 cups of flour.  I let my Kitchen-Aid dough hooks do the kneading for me. 

I only let the dough rise 20 minutes as directed and then rolled into the bagel shape before letting it rise again for another 20 minutes.  This is one of the key things I believe.  Before I was letting them rise for an hour each time, and they were over-risen.  (is that a word?)

Then it's time to get the water boiling.  The second key is the baking soda.  Add baking soda, about a heaping teaspoon full to a pot of water.  The original recipe says a heaping tablespoon full, but that made pretzel bagels when I used that much!  (Those were pretty good too!)

And now turn your oven on to 425.

Then I boiled two bagels at a time, one minute per side. 

They should puff up when you boil them.  The one on the right has not been boiled yet, and the one on the left has been boiled.  I let my just boiled bagels sit on a cooling rack for about a minute before putting them back onto the greased cookie sheet.  This is the time, if you want something on top of your bagels to dip the top into it.  It's hot/wet enough to stick at this point. 

When all of the bagels were boiled, bake them at 425 for 15-18 minutes.  Again, the original recipe says 20 minutes, I thought they were too dark.  It also says to flip them over at the 10 minute mark.  I didn't and they turned out fine.  If they have stuff on the top (poppy seeds, cinnamon crunch stuff, etc)  I didn't want my stuff falling off.  I want the stuff for me!  Just selfish like that.

They looked amazing, and while the original recipe said to cool for 20 minutes before eating, who are they kidding?  We waited about 2 minutes, just long enough for it not to melt skin when you were slicing them.

Oh, were they good.  No horse or cow or bird got any of this batch!  From beginning to end, it was just at an hour.  This was worth the effort to me, and will be making them often. 

Next time, I'm thinking I will make blueberry.

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