Mmmm, bagels. There is just something about the soft and chewy insides and browned outsides that make these breads so appealing. There is a place in town called The Daily Bagel that has bagels of all flavors ranging from garlic & herb, poppyseed, cheese and my favorite cranberry orange. Lightly toasted with a little schmear and I am happy!
The other day I was watching Martha Stewart and she had a guest on her show who was making bagel sandwiches. The ingredients really grossed me out. Chicken liver and pickles or whitefish salad with wasabi roe ... blah! Surprisingly, these are the most popular sandwiches at his shop. And while the thought of biting into a sandwich full of mushy chicken livers did not appeal to me in any way, the bagels themselves, did. So I decided to try to make my own bagels.
Sure, I could always head down to The Daily Bagel and pick up a few, but I was up for a challenge. I had never made bagels before and was curious about the process. I found a recipe online (I chose it because I had all of the ingredients on hand) and I had a blast making them.
Homemade Bagels (modified from recipetips.com)
1 tablespoon dry yeast, or 1 package
1 cup warm water
3 cups flour
1 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 quarts water
2 tablespoons sugar (optional, but gives a bit of gloss to the crust)
sesame seeds, poppy seeds, coarse salt (optional, for topping)
Dissolve yeast in warm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
Put flour, salt and sugar into electric mixer with dough hook attachment and mix. (Or mix together by hand in a bowl).
With mixer running, add yeasted water all at once and mix for about 30 seconds, until dough forms a single mass. If it's too runny to form a mass, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time. If too dry, add water a tablespoon at a time. Scrape dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for several minutes, adding a little more flour if necessary to make a firm dough.
Put dough into a bowl large enough to allow for rising, cover with plastic bag or damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. (Time will vary with temperature)
When dough is risen, preheat oven to 400 and bring 2 quarts water to boil in a pot wide enough to hold 2 or 3 bagels without crowding. Add 2 tablespoons sugar to boiling water. While oven and water heat, punch dough down and divide as evenly as possible into 8 pieces. Shape the pieces into balls. Flatten each ball into a disc about 4 inches across and poke a hole in the center. Use your hands to enlarge the hole and shape the dough.
When the oven is hot and the water boiling, starting with the bagels that were shaped first, slide 2 or 3 into the boiling water. Adjust the temperature to maintain a simmer or slow boil, not a hard boil, and cook for 2 minutes, turn over and cook for another 2 minutes. Lift out carefully and drain on a rack. Sprinkle on topping seeds or salt, if using.
Arrange bagels on greased baking sheet with enough room so they aren't touching and bake until lightly browned and crusty, about 20 minutes. Remove from sheet and cool on a rack.
My efforts resulted in delicious and chewy - if not a little funny looking - bagels that made perfect sandwiches that we had for dinner. I made my own herbed cream cheese which I put with slices of ham on each bagel. I cut up some carrot sticks and apples, and we had lunch for dinner! The family seemed pleased and I would definitely do this again. In fact, my husband didn't even realize at first that I had made them ... yeah, they were THAT good!