The Daily News

LFCA Latest Issue: Friday, September 25, 2009.

Latest Post on BlogHer: Parenting after Infertility.

My Status: Fed Josh's almonds to the squirrels. They needed them very badly.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Phrecipes: Bagels (Part One)

Hey, sweeties, roll up your sleeves and let's begin. You can either print out this recipe or bring the laptop into the kitchen. This recipe is linked under the icon on the sidebar so you will always be able to find it in the future if you want to wait a few weeks to try this lesson. If you do end up making bagels--regardless of whether they turn out perfectly or end up a burned, twisted heap of dough--blog about it and send me the link at I will add all links (regardless of when they come in--still send it if you're reading this in 2010) to the bagel posts so future bakers can read along with other people's experiences too. I would appreciate it if you blog about it if you'll link back to this post so your readers can find these other blogs too.

Bagels (Part One)

Bagels are made in two parts that are about 12 hours apart. Therefore, you have to think through the timing of it. I either make the dough at night and bake it in the morning or I make the dough in the morning and bake it at night. Just be careful not to start at 1 p.m. or you'll be finishing off the recipe at 1 a.m...

I built this recipe off of one that I found in the Cook's Illustrated book. Do not double this recipe. It will make 8 normal-sized bagels. If you want more, make each batch one at a time.

You will need the following items and ingredients...

Items: Kitchenaid (this is one of those doughs you really can't make without the Kitchenaid, though you can try to do it by hand--I'm not that brave or strong), silpat, parchment paper, aluminum foil, measuring cups and spoons, Pyrex measuring cup, baking sheets, plastic wrap, paper towels, large pot, cooling rack, flat slotted spoon.

Ingredients: Bread flour, vital wheat gluten, active dry yeast, barley malt syrup, sea salt, water, cornmeal.

Additional Ingredients You May Wish to Add: Raisins, vanilla, cinnamon, dried garlic, dried onions, poppyseeds, sesame seeds.

Let me give you the reason for the ingredients because you can't really play around with them that much. You want bread flour because it has the highest gluten content. You can't use all-purpose flour and make a chewy, golden bagel. I add extra gluten with the vital wheat gluten (usually found near flour or in the "health food" section of the food store. Make sure you refrigerate after opening). Again, don't skip this ingredient if you want your bagel to turn out like a New York bagel. Active dry yeast--buy it in the baking aisle and store it in the refrigerator once you open it. Invest in a jar if you're going to do more than one or two recipes in their series--you will go through a lot of yeast. Barley malt syrup can be difficult to find. I get mine at our local organic market. It is sold at Whole Foods. I'm sure there are online sources for this too. It gives bagels their distinct taste so...don't skip. Which is to say, for many future recipes, you will be able to play with ratios and flours, but bagel recipes are very straightforward and rigid. Don't mess with this one.

I use sea salt. You could use regular salt. I personally think that sea salt produces a better flavour. And if you're going to make an "everything" bagel, you'll need it for the mix.

I am a huge fan of the dump. Very few of my bread recipes will have precise directions on adding one ingredient before the next. Therefore, take out your Kitchenaid bowl and dump in the following ingredients:

4 cups bread flour
4 tsp vital wheat gluten

2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

1 tbsp barley malt syrup

In the end, you should have a mixture that looks something like this*:

Pour in 1 1/4 cup of water. I keep my water in a brita in the refrigerator. I know that the exact temperature you'll need can be produced by placing the water for 50 seconds in the microwave. Since I can't give you an exact temperature, I'd suggest leaving a cup of water in the refrigerator overnight and then placing it in the microwave for 50 seconds. The result looks like this:

Place the Kitchenaid bowl in the mixer and use the dough hook. Now step away for a minute or two and just observe. The dough will start out dry and shreddy-looking. It will then start to pick up and come together into a smooth ball of dough, leaving no flour on the sides of the bowl. If in 5 minutes, it isn't beginning to look like this...

...add a dash of water. And I really mean a dash. Under a tsp. A little water goes a long way in this recipe. Once it looks like the picture above, let it go for a bit until the dough is smooth and satiny. It will look something like this:

Note the super clean sides of the Kitchenaid bowl. Take the dough over to your silpat (you could also probably use a sheet of parchment paper, but silpats are such a great workspace and they're reusable so...worth the investment). Divide it in half. Then divide each half in half. Then divide each of those half in half. You should have 8 chunks of dough. Cup your hands and roll them into tight balls like so:

Place a damp paper towel over them (you can use a damp cloth towel, but make sure you launder it afterwards. I once left the towels to wash a day or two later and I had to throw them out because they were covered in mold. Not nice. I now use disposable paper towels).

Rest the little balls of dough. Set the timer for 10 minutes. You can use this time to start on a second batch of dough.

The timer goes off and now it's time to shape them. Take a baking sheet and cover it in foil and sprinkle cornmeal across the surface. The picture should show you how much cornmeal you need:

You've probably read a bunch of recipes where they tell you to make a long rope and loop the ends together--forget it. Those bagels always pull apart. Instead, pop your thumb through the center of the ball of dough.

Then working from the center out, open up the hole and turn the bagel as you work so its of equal thickness all the way around the bagel (check out that pomegranate thread!).

Place these bagels on the prepared baking sheets, making sure that the dough has a little space to rise (it won't change shape a lot, but leave an inch between bagels). Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Now walk away for 12--18 hours. And then continue on with Part Two: Baking Bagels...

*Wait! What if you want cinnamon raisin bagels? All other bagel flavours will be dealt with during the baking process, but cinnamon raisin bagels require a few extra ingredients. Mix into your dough (prior to pouring in the water), 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tbsp cinnamon, and 2 handfuls of raisins. Pour in the water and proceed as usual.


Michell said...

you are so talented.

Anonymous said...

Mmmmmm, I'm getting hungry just looking at this! I will have to bookmark this post and try it out.

Anonymous said...

Now for some Aussie questions. When you say cornmeal, do you mean polenta (yellow), or a fine white flour, known as cornflour here?

IN the items...can you describe what a silpat is so I can compare?

Many thanks.

The Town Criers said...

In case Anonymous returns...

A silpat is a silicone baking sheet. Here's a picture of one:

The cornmeal is the yellow grainy stuff that is also known as polenta.

Email me at if you have other questions as you bake.