I woke up bright and early on a recent Monday morning inspired by our popular artisanal bread making class and ready to make homemade bagels. I also remembered when my sister came to visit me when I first moved from Germany to Chicago 21 years ago. All she wanted was a bagel and hazelnut-flavored coffee for breakfast. Back then, I did not have time to make homemade bagels, but at least I was able to get her the hazelnut flavor for her coffee. I learned about bagels on my very first trip to the U.S. when I visited New York where everyone talked about the bagels! My friends told me that New York bagels are different due to the water.
The recipe I used is fairly simple, but the technique of shaping the bagels correctly can take some practice. There are two different techniques for shaping bagels. There is the “rope technique” and another technique of forming the dough into a ball and shaping them into a ring from that ball. I specifically wanted to use the rope technique since I've seen that method used in bakeries before. After I consulted with some of The Chopping Block's pastry chefs and showed them the pictures from my bagel experiment, I was informed that the ball method is easier than the rope technique which is the technique used in the recipe below. Guess I should have consulted them before embarking on the experiment!
Bagels are a yeast-risen dough, and I recommend using dry active yeast. I would stay away from fast rising yeasts, since you want the dough to proof slowly. The temperature of the water you use to activate the yeast should be between 110-120 degrees. I let the water run and tested it on my wrist but if you don't feel comfortable knowing the water is the right temperature, feel free to use a thermometer.
Once you add the water to the yeast, it will create tiny bubbles that will tell you that the yeast is active and alive. You should feel confident at this point and continue the process of making the dough.
The second step is to let the dough rise and double in size. This is best done in a warm spot in your kitchen covering the bowl with a towel so it is nice and warm. Once you divide the dough into 8 pieces, shape them, and let them rise again for about 10 minutes, preferably wrapped in plastic. Then you boil the bagels for 2 minutes and place them on a baking tray lined with either a Silpat or parchment paper.
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon light brown sugar or malt syrup
1 1/4 cups warm water
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 teaspoon celery seeds
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 egg white, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
1. Place the yeast, brown sugar (or syrup), and water in a large mixing bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.
2. Add the flour and salt to the bowl. If using a stand mixer, knead with the dough hook for 5 to 6 minutes on low speed. If mixing by hand, knead for about 10 minutes until smooth.
3. Place the dough in a lightly-oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until doubled in size, about one hour.
4. Preheat the oven to 425º. Line a sheet tray with a silpat or parchment paper. Lightly grease the parchment paper if using.
5. Punch down the dough and divide into eight equal pieces.
6. Roll each piece of dough into a ball. Use your thumb to punch a hole through the center of each dough ball, and then gently twirl to stretch it so the hole is 1 1/2 to 2 inches across.
7. Place the bagels on the prepared sheet tray and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
8. While the dough rests, fill a wide, heavy pan with 2 inches of water, and add the granulated sugar and baking soda. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
9. In a small bowl mix together kosher salt, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, caraway seeds, celery seeds and minced onions.
10. Poach the bagels in the simmering water for 1 minute on each side. Drain well, then return them to the sheet pans, using the same greased Silpat or parchment and bake for 20 minutes.
And if you want hands-on experience making bagels and other types of breads, join us for our next Artisanal Breads Boot Camp on Saturday, August 31 at 10am at the Mart.