Sunday, May 4, 2014

Homemade Bagels!

Homemade seed-and-salt bagel with cream cheese, lox, lemon, and red onion.

Bagels remind me of waking up hungover in college. Being from California, what I wanted in my hungoverness was a nice greasy burrito, but that was obviously not happening in Binghamton. All my friends, though, woke up wanting bagels. And this was more doable--there was a pretty decent place at the bottom on the hill. Which would even deliver, were you feeling particularly lazy. So I have many happy memories of eating bagels and recounting the previous night. From then on, whenever I was in NY I made sure to eat as many great bagels as I could. I particularly grew to love the egg-and-cheese bagel--the perfect breakfast food, which I wish would expand to the rest of the  country.
My husband is from Brooklyn, so he loves when I make pizza and bagels more than any other baked good. Even bad bagels (I've made a few totally unsuccessful batches), he scarfs, groaning about how much he loves bagels. I decided to make these this weekend to celebrate the return of Home Weekends, as opposed to Ski Weekends. We planted our garden, strung up lights over the deck, and had our first weekend out of the mountains. As much as I love powder in Summit Country, I also love doing nothing in my backyard in Denver, especially in shorts.
If you want a good bagel in Denver, you're going to need to make it yourself. The only bagels in town are the Thomas' brand in the plastic bag at Safeway.
I used a recipe I found on the New York Times. But I seriously could NOT find the malt powder the recipe called for. So I just skipped it, subbing in a little more sugar with the blooming yeast (about 2 tablespoons).
This is a pretty easy recipe. Just takes patience with the rising times.

From New York Times:


  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more for boiling
  • 1 tablespoon diastatic malt powder
  • 1/4 cup poppy seeds, optional
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds, optional


Put the yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add 1 2/3 cups lukewarm water and allow the yeast to activate, about 5 minutes. Add flour, salt and malt powder and mix at low speed for 5 minutes using the paddle attachment. Cover the dough and allow to rise at room temperature for about 2 hours.
Punch the dough down and shape into a rough rectangle about 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick, and about 2 times longer than it is wide. If you are having trouble forming the dough, stretch it, wait for the gluten to relax and reform.
Cut the dough into 10 pieces of about 3 ounces each. Roll each into an 8-inch-long snakelike shape, tapering the dough at each end. Circle the dough around your hand, pinching the ends together and rolling under your palm once or twice to seal. Put the bagels on a Silpat or other nonstick baking sheet on top of a jellyroll pan. Cover well with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 10 hours, or up to 24 hours.
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. If you have a baking stone or brick you use for baking, put it on a rack near the bottom of the oven; it will retain heat and produce a crisper bagel. Bring a large pot of water to boil, throw a handful of salt into the boiling water and remove the bagels from the refrigerator.
Using your hands, carefully place just enough bagels into the pot to cover the surface of the water, making sure that there are no bagels resting on top of one another. Let them float on one side for about 30 seconds before flipping them to the other side for another 30 seconds or so. Remove the bagels and drain well on a cooling rack.
Pour poppy or sesame seeds into a bowl wider than the bagels. Working very quickly, remove the bagels one by one and dip them into the topping. Place them back on the Silpat-covered baking sheet, topping side down.
Bake on the second to highest shelf of the oven for about 7 minutes. Then flip the bagels and continue baking for about 8 minutes, or until they are golden brown.

10 bagels

Raw bagels after rising in the fridge all night.
Boiling raw bagels. 
Delicious, toasty finished bagels.
Bagels, cream cheese, onions, lox, lemons.

We had a fantastic brunch--bagels and lox, plus a cheese-and-onion fritatta courtesy of my brother, and mimosas. The bagels, though nowhere near New York-quality / flavor, were delicious.
I love summer. And I am very excited to experiment with new bagel flavors and techniques.