Bagels: Give 'Em Another Try

>> Friday, January 22, 2010

I've heard from several of my real-life and online friends that they've had trouble with the bagel recipe I posted a couple months ago. This makes me sad. So, last night I decided to make them again and try to offer some helpful hints to ya'll. I think the MOST important part of success is using bread flour, which promotes strong gluten (sorry gluten-free folks!) -- an essential part of the bagel-making process.

Below is a modified bagel recipe . . . with extra comments and suggestion in BOLD RED.

Flax & Wheat BAGELS!
(Modified from a recipe in Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook)

What you'll need (to make 10 healthy bagels) . . .

  • 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1-2/3 cups warm water
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
  • 2-1/4 cups white bread flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat bread flour
  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (for topping)
  • 2 tablespoons flax seeds (for topping)
  • 1 tablespoon crushed rosemary (for topping)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (for topping)
  • Olive oil (for bowl)
  • Plastic wrap
  • Parchment paper

Method . . .

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the yeast and water. Let stand for 5 minutes (until foamy).
  2. Attach bowl to mixer fitted with the dough hook and -- with the mixer on low speed -- add the sugar, 1 tablespoon of molasses, flours, and salt. Knead for about 1 minute (until a slightly tacky -- but not sticky -- dough forms). I found it useful to add the flour 1 cup at a time.
  3. You may need to add more flour or water depending on what you find. If so -- just add in 1 tablespoon amounts. Do NOT do this until the dough is well mixed. I added too much water last night, so I had to go add more flour, and the end result was still good, but denser than usual.
  4. Continue to knead dough for about 5 more minutes -- then transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with oiled plastic wrap. Really do knead in your mixer for 5 minutes. At points it looks like the dough might not form . . . but eventually if you're patient, it WILL. Trust me :)
  5. Let rise in a warm place for 2 hours (until doubled in bulk). Mine -- with this mix of the wheat and white flour -- didn't seem to exactly double. But it also didn't seem to make much of a difference. They turned out anyway.
  6. Divide dough into 10 equal pieces. Cover with a damp kitchen towel (the book reminds us to make sure the towel is CLEAN, which I find hilarious). Let rest for about 20 minutes. Last night, I didn't use a towel. I just used some plastic wrap.
  7. Line two unrimmed baking sheets (no worries -- mine were rimmed, so I don't know the benefit of using the unrimmed sheets) with parchment paper and lightly brush with oil; set aside.
  8. With lightly oiled hands, roll each piece of dough into a 6-inch rope. Form a circle around your hand and then press the two ends (rather, roll them) together to seal. There really isn't a great way to explain how to fasten them together -- so go with your gut! You'll actually want to press the ends together to seal, but then roll the newly sealed part on a clean work surface to really press them together.
  9. Place the bagels 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Cover with a piece of oiled plastic wrap (I used the same one from earlier in the process), and let rest until puffed (about 20 minutes).

  10. Mix together the sesame seeds, flax seeds, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, and crushed rosemary. Set aside (this is your bagel topping!)

Baking method . . .

  1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F (260 C) -- with racks in the upper and lower thirds.

  2. Fill a large stockpot (the wider the better, Martha notes) with water and bring to a boil. When boiling, add the other 2 tablespoons of molasses.
  3. Gently drop bagels into the water (as many as will comfortably fit without touching each other).
  4. After 30 seconds, use a slotted spoon to gently flip the bagels over -- simmer for yet another 30 seconds.
  5. Then, using the slotted spoon again, return the bagels to the parchment-lined sheets. Top them with the seed mixture -- you must do this when the bagels are still wet so everything sticks to them. Also, I was somewhat anal and used a paper towel to wipe up the extra water that dropped onto my baking sheet.
  6. When you've finished this process with all to-be bagels, immediately place sheets in the oven.
  7. Bake for 5 minutes and then rotate the sheets and reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (176-ish degrees C). Bake until golden brown (about 10 minutes -- but mine only took 8).
  8. THEN use a spatula (I just made my husband do this part, as he seems to be impervious to heat) and flip bagels over. Continue baking for another 5 minutes -- or until the back-sides are golden brown as well.
  9. Transfer bagels to wire rack to cool! Then toast and enjoy!

If you run into any issues or have any questions, let me know. I'd be happy to help. It can seem like a daunting process, but it's worth mastering! Just look at those awesome, golden-brown bagels -- made entirely by me. They can be kept in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 1 day. Frozen for up to three weeks (but you'll want to cut them first for easy toasting). We kept four out and put the rest in our freezer. Can't wait to go home at drench one with some Earth Balance!

Got a question? We've got answers! Check out our recent call for FAQs post . . . we've already received quite a few good ones (anything from heart-healthy cooking tips, to how we met, to what we do for a day-job) . . . but the more the merrier!

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