On Thursday, I mentioned to Little Miss that I was going to bring bagels to my PTO meeting. She looked at me with confusion on her face. Mommy, she asked me slowly, what’s a bagel?
I stopped in my tracks and stared at her. What have I done wrong as a mother that my five (and a half) year old doesn’t know what a bagel is? How is this even possible? Oops.
So I decided to make bagels with her. They’re easy – and in many ways easier than other yeast breads. And oh were they good. I made 22 of them. They were gone by Saturday night. I may make more tomorrow. They were that good.
2 c water, hot but not too hot
1 1/2 T yeast
3 T sugar
1 t vegetable oil
5 to 6 c flour
2 t salt
extra baking soda and sugar for later in the process
Toppings as you choose – do you want raisin bagels, chocolate chip bagels, poppyseed bagels, sesame bagels?
Add the hot water to your bowl. You want it in the 110 degree range, which is not so hot that it burns your hands but right about when it starts steaming. If it isn’t hot enough, that’s ok, but your dough will take longer to rise. If it’s too hot (over 120 degrees), it will kill your yeast. My hot water heater is set for 120 degrees, so I know I never have to worry about that at least!
Pour the yeast atop the water, and sprinkle in the sugar. Mix it well. Add the vegetable oil, then 2 cups of flour. Mix it well with your dough hook in your mixer on a semi-highish speed. Once it’s smooth and fully incorporated, go ahead and add the salt. Mix it again.
Add more flour, a bit at a time. Mix it thoroughly on low speed after each addition until it makes a stiff dough. You want this to be even more stiff than a regular bread dough but not with so much flour that it can’t be incorporated or looks dry.
Once you have sufficient flour added, knead with your dough hook on low speed for another seven or so minutes. Remove the dough hook and cover the bowl with a dampened kitchen towel.
Rising for this one is important in that more so than many other breads, you don’t want this to overrise. If you let it rise too long, the bagels will fall flat when you bake them later. But it’s easy for that to not happen, so don’t let this scare you off – and even if they do fall down some, they still taste great!
Let the dough rise for fifteen minutes. Remove the towel after the fifteen minutes and begin forming your bagels. Grab a hunk of dough – I made mine about 1.5 ounces (ok, so I weighed some after I was done and every one was between 1.5 and 1.6 ounces – freaky!) because that’s a good size for me. Most commercial bagels are between 2 and 3 ounces. Make yours the size you want, and adjust the cooking time accordingly.
Roll your hunk of dough in your hands and form it into a circle. Poke a hole in the center and work the bagel around in your hands to get it smooth and with a good sized hole. If you mess up, simply fold it back together and start over – it’s very forgiving. Place it on a sil pat or greased baking sheet to rise a second time. Rinse and repeat until the dough is gone.
Let the bagels rise, again covered by that damp kitchen towel, for another twenty minutes. While the dough is rising this time, begin boiling a large pot of water with around 2 quarts of water. Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda and a tablespoon of sugar to the water.
Once the bagels have risen for the second time, carefully lift off four bagels at a time and place them into the boiling water. You want it gently boiling – just a little more than simmering. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees now.
After three minutes in the water, flip the bagels over to boil on the other side. I use a chopstick to flip them. After the second side has boiled for three minutes, place the bagels onto the sil pat again. It is amazing how much they grow as you boil them. You’ll want to be sure to have a second sil pat ready to handle the overflow!
Once your first sil pat is full, place them in the oven at 375 degrees for twenty to twenty-five minutes until they are golden brown. Serve immediately, or let cool. Eat them within a day or so to maintain freshness; these will freeze well. If you’re making the larger bagels, you’ll want to bake them longer, up to 35 minutes if you did the 3 ounce bagels – but keep an eye on them for golden brown doneness.
If you want flavored bagels, add raisins, cherries, chocolate chips, or the like to your dough during the kneading stage and follow the remaining directions as is.
If you are going to make poppyseed or sesame bagels or something where the bagel has a topping, prepare a small plate with the topping. As you take your bagel out of the boiling water, drop it onto the plate and gently push down. Pick up the bagel, and flip it over so the topping side is up on your sil pat. Bake as normal.