Bagels! For the longest time, bagels were one of those things—like Hollandaise sauce—that seemed totally out of my culinary reach. There is something so incredibly intimidating about yeast to begin with, and then throw in a two-part cooking process? Bagels seemed way out of my league. Plus, we have an awesome bagel company right here in town. No need to dip my toes in the water bath of hole-y failure if I can just run down the street and pick up a dozen.
But then, something changed. A few summers back, I made a proclamation to homemake all the food for an upcoming camping trip. Camping is full of processed crap food. Boxed breakfasts, hot dogs, graham crackers and marshmallows. And I was determined to try my hand at homemaking as much of the classic camping food as possible. For quick breakfasts, I landed on homemade bagels. I tossed aside my trepidation and fired up the oven.
In all honesty, there is nothing hard about making bagels. But they are time-consuming and require a bit of babysitting. You still might be wondering why I bother considering the awesome bagel bakery down the street. Truthfully, I usually don’t. If I’m being totally honest, I use bagels. Bagelmaking for me is a bit of a confidence-booster. Anytime I am feeling lack-luster about my skills in the kitchen, bagels are there to resurrect my confidence. There is something so incredibly satisfying about making your own bagels. I mean, if someone was telling you about how they make their own bagels, wouldn’t you be impressed? I’m impressed with myself! Think of the little black dress. You don’t wear it all the time, but when you do, it makes you feeling amazing.
Bagels are my little black dress.
A few general notes about bagel-making :
- The recipe below is for yummy, delicious, chewy and doughy, but plain, whole grain bagels. They are great on their own, but I like to spice them up with lots of fun toppings. On this batch, I used pumpkin seeds, sunflower kernels, chia seeds, oats, and poppy seeds in various combinations and mixtures. Other good options : kosher salt, dehydrated onion, cinnamon-sugar.
- A food scale comes in handy for making sure your bagels are even size. To get two dozen bagels from this batch, you need each bagel’s dough to weigh about 3-1/2 ounces. No food scale? Just eye-ball it.
- These bagels freeze excellently! Just let them cool completely, stuff them into freezer bags and freeze. In fact, we store our bagels in the freezer (bagels can go moldy and get stale fast). When it is time to chow down, we just pull them out of freezer, slice them with a serrated knife (yes, through the frozen bagel) and pop them into the toaster.
- You will need to allocate at least three hours to make these. It isn’t all hands on time (that includes rising and bake time) but you’ll need to be nearby. Perfect for Sunday!
Whole Grain Bagels
Makes two dozen medium-sized bagels
- 5 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
- 2-1/2 tablespoons yeast
- 5 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 3-1/2 cups hot water
- 2 cups white flour
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 quarts water
- 2 tablespoons brown rice syrup (optional, helps shine up the bagels)
- 1 egg white, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add whole wheat flour, oats, yeast, sugar and salt. Pour in the hot water and turn mixer on low and run until just combined.
- Remove paddle attachment and replace with hook. Turn mixer to low, add white flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.
- To knead the dough with mixer (what I do), turn mixer up to medium-low speed and let knead for about 10 minutes. Or turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand. Dough is well-kneaded when smooth and not-as-sticky.
- Pour olive oil into a clean mixing bowl, add dough and turn once to coat. Cover in plastic wrap and place in a warm spot (on top of the fridge is great) to rise until doubled in volume, about an hour.
- Near the end of the rising time, prepare the water bath by bringing 3 quarts water to boil in a large soup pot. Once boiling, add brown rice syrup, reduce the heat and leave to just a simmer.
- When the dough is done rising, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and press with fingers to remove air.
- Divide the dough into 24 balls, weighing about 3-1/2 ounce each. Cover all dough balls in a tea towel and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.
- After resting, flatten each ball with the palm of your hand. With thumb, press a hole deep into the center of the bagel and tear open with your fingers to make a large hole. Form all the bagels, cover with tea towel again and let rise for a second time for about 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Once bagels have risen a second time, slip one at a time into the prepared water bath. I usually do three bagels at a time. Do not crowd the pot! Your bagels may sink and rise again, but usually mine just float on the top. Simmer for one minute, flip bagel over and simmer for another minute on other side.
- Lift bagel gently out of water and let drain on towel. Bagels should look a bit soggy, sticky and shiny (if using brown rice syrup). Once bagels have drained, transfer to a greased baking sheet.
- Once all bagels have been boiled, brush on egg white and water mixture to the top of each bagel. Now is the time to add your toppings! Sprinkle them on while the egg wash is still tacky.
- Bake on the middle rack of the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops of the bagels are brown and shiny and the bottoms are brown and solid-feeling. Cool on metal rack.
Coming up tomorrow : custom-made cream cheese to go with your homemade bagels! It is easy, pretty much fool-proof and only adds to confidence-boosting properties of bagels,