Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Homemade Bagels

Goodness gracious.  We've had this post in the queue for what, oh, four weeks now - we know, we know, we already apologized, but the last month has been a bit ... involved.  So.  Now that we have that out of the way for good, MOVING ON.  Don't these look lovely?
That's J Fierce's poppyseed bagel on the left, and C Fierce's onion garlic salt bagel on the right.  We spent a few days together hanging out at J Fierce's, eating a lot of dried sour cherries, making mango/pineapple/strawberry/mint salsa (it's probably still in the fridge somewhere because someone *ahem ahem C Fierce* got a leeetle carried away with chopping the pineapple), grilling steak, eating the best fried chicken in town, drinking beer out of mason jars ... and didn't even have any fights!  Nope, no bar fights!  And no fights with each other, either, which, in itself, is an amazing feat.  (Ask J Fierce about the time she refused to speak to C Fierce and Little Brother Fierce for the entire duration of a flight, layover, and subsequent flight.  ALL OVER A STUPID FOUNTAIN SODA.  WEIRD I THINK MY CAPS LOCKS KEY GOT STUCK.)

ANYWAY back to the bagels.  Some were cuter than others ...
Why yes, we did put the comparison photo after the jump for a reason - see the deformities and odd shapes and sizes?  The recipe we used, from Williams Sonoma, was a little light on details.  Details that might have explained that it is okay for the bagels to be very small on the second rise.  Details that could have shed some light on the fact that those babies were going to plump up big time once they hit the poaching bath.  
Thank goodness you have the Sisters Fierce to do the troubleshooting for you!  Here's the recipe with our notes.  Who knows what we'll get into next time we get together, but we're taking requests.  We know you're reading; the Google Tubes don't lie, people.  Leave us comments!  Send us emails!  We're just here waiting patiently.
adapted from Williams Sonoma: Baking

1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) quick rise yeast (we used regular active dry yeast)
2 1/2-3 cups (12 1/2-15oz) unbleached bread flour
1 cup lukewarm milk
1/4 cup oil, plus extra for greasing
1 teaspoon regular salt
1 egg, separated
1 tablespoon sugar
poppy seeds, sesame seeds, garlic powder mixed with salt, etc for sprinkling

In a large bowl, combine the yeast and a half cup of the flour. If you're using a stand mixer, use the bowl that fits.  Stir in the milk, let stand until frothy, about ten minutes. Use a wooden spoon to beat in the oil, regular salt, egg yolk, and sugar. Gradually beat in enough of the remaining flour to make a stiff but workable dough.

Knead the dough by hand or with the hook. We couldn't find the dough hook (it had the nerve to turn up three days later, looking ashamed of itself) so J Fierce, bless her heart and her kneading hands, got to get in there. C Fierce has, shall we say, an issue with yeast doughs. (Can you tell who got the task of typing up the directions? Hint, NOT C FIERCE.  I swear, we both have this cookbook, she acts like she still lives with our mom and wont turn the heat up long enough to remove her mittens from her hands and type something.) If you're kneading by hand, do this until it is smooth and elastic, or until your sister tells you to stop, adding more flour if you need to as you go.

Those of you who don't like to get your hands dirty and are using your dough hook, wait until the dough is no longer sticky and pulls cleanly from the sides, 6-7 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a greased bowl, turning to coat completely. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, 45-60 minutes.

Lightly flour your work surface and turn risen dough out on to it. Press flat.  Roll into a log about 8 inches long and cut into 16 equal pieces.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel.  One at a time (take you turns, bagels to be!) form each piece into a ball, flatten it into a 2 1/2 inch diameter round. Poke a hole in it. Williams Sonoma, ever the proper guide, suggests using the end of a wooden spoon. I used the end of my hands, my fingers. Widen the hole so it is about 1 inch. Place the rounds on the work surface, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let rise until doubled, about 20 minutes.  (Note: poking a hole in the middle works much better than trying to make bagels out of long skinny pieces.  They just don't stay together.)

Preheat your oven to 375 F and grease a baking sheet (or use parchment paper).

In a pot, boil 3 quarts of water or so. We just used a big old pot and filled it halfway up. Reduce the heat to low, and slip 2 or 3 bagels into the simmering water.  Poach turning once, for 3 minutes a side, reform the holes if you need to. Watch them puff up. Use a slotted spoon or a spider, transfer to prepared sheet.

Lightly beat the egg white and brush over the bagels. Sprinkle with your delicious toppings. I hope you picked garlic salt, because those will be your favorite. You may have to fight your sister for the last one.  Remind her you did all the kneading, and will later do the recipe typing.  (AND THEN SHE WILL REMIND YOU THAT SHE IS YOUR OLDER SISTER SO DO WHAT SHE SAYS.  LOVE, C FIERCE.) Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer bagels to wire racks to cool.

This recipe is supposed to make 16 bagels. Ours were all different sizes, but if you made the 16 pieces earlier I don't know how you could end up with less. This isn't really the kind of thing that you have, to use a retail term, "shrink" on due to mid-recipe-sampling. When your bagels have all been devoured, bask in the fact that the next time someone says, wow these are good bagels, you can say, "my homemade ones were better."


  1. what would it take to get a bagel or two?

  2. Very funny stuff!

    I'm currently living in Honduras where the only place it is possible to buy a bagel is at Dunking need to say anymore about why I'm trying to make my own. I've made two attempts, one plain and one cinnamon raisin (sorry, no garlic on my bagel please!) and they have been okay. Not fabulous, but okay. They both seemed to be more like circular bread than chewy bagel. Any ideas what I'm not doing correctly? I will try your recipe (minus the garlic salt)and hope for better results. We are also unable to get English muffins here. I made one attempt and again, just okay. Have you tried and had success with English muffins, and would you share your recipe if so?

    Gracias y paz,

    Natasha Wiggs

  3. Natasha, did any of your recipes include kettling the dough? This is the boiling water part, and it is really important for an authentic bagel. It allows the interior of the dough to expand while it thickens the exterior-once its baked, it becomes chewy.

    The other thing I would suggest is to make sure that the dough actually looks like it has doubled in size if that is what the recipe suggests. Depending on the heat and humidity, the time guideline can be way off.

    Let us know how it goes!

    Neither me nor my sister has tried to make english muffins yet-but they can't be too far down the list. Who doesn't love the nooks and crannies?