Last week, I sent out a plea to my Facebook friends. I begged guidance on what my next recipe for the 2011 Baking Challenge should be. Naturally, people want the showstoppers--cannoli, for instance, which require special tools. So, like a perfect jerk, I made crackers.
Then, my friend Jamie (who just began her own delightful blog over at The Kiefer Kitchen) told me that she could get a state fair first prize-winning bagel recipe from her dad. Did I want that? Heck YES, I want a bagel recipe that won a state fair competition! And true to her word, Jamie sent me the recipe straightaway.
Last week, I finally bought The Bread Baker's Apprentice (I'd successfully made a couple recipes from a borrowed copy before). Peter Reinhart has a truly amazing looking bagel recipe in the book. It's a bagel connoisseur's bagel. It also takes a significant amount of effort and requires 2 days of attention. The nice thing about Jamie's Dad's Bagel Recipe is that, if followed exactly as written, it only takes about 2 hours (doable for a weekend morning!).
So, as though I was some sort of confident baking genius, I took elements from Peter Reinhart's technique and combined them into this recipe. The result was a chewy, flavorful recipe with a crustier top....and it was super easy to achieve. I am now confident that I can handle Peter Reinhart's recipe--but that will come later this year.
Easy Wheat Bagels (modified somewhat from Jamie's Dad)
-2 3/4 - 3 cups all purpose flour
-2 packages (or 4 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
-1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
-3 tablespoons sugar
-1 tablespoon salt
-1/2 tablespoon barley malt syrup (**Note: This is optional, and added by me--but is a requirement of the Reinhart recipe. Barley malt syrup is easily found in natural/health food stores.**)
-1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
-Optional: Sesame seeds and kosher salt, or cinnamon & sugar for topping.
1. In a stand mixer, combine 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and yeast.
2. In a separate bowl, combine water, sugar, salt, and barley malt syrup. Add to dry mixture.
3. Beat at low speed for 1/2 minute, scraping sides constantly. Beat for 3 minutes at high speed. Add the whole wheat flour and enough of the remaining all-purpose flour (about 1 1/4 cups) to make a moderately stiff dough. Beat on low speed until combined.
4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, 8-10 minutes. Cover; let rest 15 minutes. (**Note: Even Peter Reinhart's recipe says to knead by hand, instead of in the mixer with a dough hook. Maybe because the dough is so stiff? I'm not sure, but I do know that it's quite the workout to knead this stuff by hand for 10 minutes!**)
5. Cut the dough into 12 portions. Shape each piece into a smooth ball. Punch a hole in the center of each with a floured finger. Gently enlarge by putting your thumb in the hole and using your other hand to gently stretch dough evenly all the way around.
6. Spray a baking sheet with cooking oil. Place bagels on the sheet, cover with plastic wrap or tinfoil, and refrigerate overnight. (**Note: The original recipe says to let rest for 20 minutes. Since I had the time, I let them sit overnight to ferment and develop a headier flavor. Do what you can!**)
7. In a stock pot, combine 1 gallon water and 1 tablespoon sugar, bringing to a boil. Reduce heat to simmering and add 4 bagels at a time for 7 minutes. Turn over once during the 7 minutes. Using tongs to remove (and to turn them over!), place them on paper towels to drain while you put the next batch in the pot. If you want to add toppings, like sesame seeds, do it while they're draining and still sticky.
8. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, dusted with semolina flour or cornmeal, place the bagels evenly across. Bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating the sheet 180 degrees halfway through baking. Remove from the sheet and cool on a wire rack.
-Makes 12 bagels