So, my friend Jennifer told me about this book called "Make the Bread, Buy the Butter" by, Jennifer Reese. This is part memoir, part cookbook, all enjoyable, easy-reading fun time. After being laid off, the author decided to pour her efforts into making many things that are typically storebought and gauging whether those products taste better/are too much effort/are too costly and saying whether you are better off making or buying it (or both). The author is a food blogger, and her prose reflects that--easy going, funny, and personal.
As I was reading it in bed the other night, her description of and recipe for bagels got to me. I've made bagels in the past, and they were very good. But what I remember was that the crust was a touch too tough and chewy, such that biting through was presented some difficulty. Jennifer Reese's recipe looked super simple--and she included a modification for cinnamon-raisin bagels. As I realized that I had everything except whey (which you can swap out for water) in my house, I cozied up to the idea of making bagels again on a Saturday filled with nothing but homework.
This was 100% the right move.
What can't be said about these bagels? They are perfect in every way. They are like storebought bagels, but even better because they're so fresh (and, you know, don't have scary preservatives). The crust is perfectly chewy and flavorful, the inside crumb tender and appropriately dense, and the cinnamon and raisins aromatic and complementary to the dough.
If you have about 3 hours, you can have these bagels. They're cheaper to make (well, once you have the barley malt syrup on hand, anyway--that stuff isn't cheap) than to buy, they (allegedly) freeze well, and they are far superior to storebought. Plus, you'll have bragging rights, because everybody thinks that bagels are hard to make, but they're a snap (but nobody has to know that except you--talk up how hard it was so they think you're even awesomer).
Cinnamon Raisin Bagels (from "Make the Bread, Buy the Butter" by, Jennifer Reese)
-3 1/2 cups high-gluten or all-purpose flour, plus a bit more
-4 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast (**I only had active yeast, which meant proofing it in 1/2 cup of 115-degree water with 2 teaspoons of sugar for 10 minutes until it was twice its size in foaminess. If you do this, subtract 1/2 cup of water and about 1/2 a tablespoon of sugar from the recipe below**)
-5 tablespoons granulated sugar
-1 tablespoon salt
-1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
-1 1/2 cups warm whey or water
-1 cup raisins
-Oil for greasing
-2 tablespoons barley malt syrup (**or dark brown sugar, but I'm going to add that barley malt syrup is 100% worth buying--for granola, pretzels, or bagels!**)
-Cornmeal, for sprinkling
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 3 1/2 cups flour, yeast, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add the whey/water and beat hard with the paddle attachment for a few minutes, switching to the dough hook once the mixture comes together. You can do this by hand, but prepare for a workout. If the mixture seems overly wet, add more flour, a little bit at a time. Stop adding flour as soon as you have a stiff dough (**Ultimately, I had to add a lot more flour to get to a dough that wasn't sticky/tacky/floppy**). Knead with dough hook (or by hand) for 5 minutes. Close to the end of the kneading time, add the raisins. If the mixer isn't doing a good job of incorporating the raisins, you may need to take the dough out and knead briefly by hand to get a good spread of raisins in the dough.
2. Place the dough in a greased bowl. You can either cover with a clean, damp dish towel OR do a trick I learned recently! Place the bowl in a plastic bag that's free of any holes. Gather up the ends, making a small opening. Take a deep breath and blow hot air into the bag to inflate it. Trap the air in there and close it up with a twist tie. I don't know why this works (because it's not like the air stays hot), but it does. It's helpful if your house is really cold/drafty, like mine is. Let it rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 400. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While the water is heating, sprinkle a baking sheet generously with cornmeal and lightly grease another.
4. Deflate the dough and divide into 10 pieces. Roll each piece into the neatest, roundest ball you can. With your thumb, poke a hole in the middle of the ball and coax the dough into a bagel shape. You can make the hole a little larger than you think is appropriate, because the dough shrinks back a bit.
5. When the water comes to a rolling boil, add the malt syrup. Drop 3 bagels at a time into the water. Let them simmer for a minute, then flip them over, simmering for another minute. Remove with a slotted spoon, returning to the greased baking sheet to dry a bit. Proceed with the remaining bagels.
6. Move all the bagels to the cornmeal-sprinkled sheet. If you have any additional toppings to add, now's the time to do it.
7. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until golden brown. Store in a paper bag at room temperature for up to a week, or freeze, tightly wrapped for longer storage.
-Makes 10 bagels of decent size