I've had my eye on a couple of bagel recipes and this weekend I finally bit the bullet and made them. The recipe has been adapted from the Bread Baker's Apprentice, as seen on the Smitten Kitchen's blog. When I first saw her blog with the recipe I hesitated to make them because of the lengthy directions. But, when I saw the same recipe elsewhere I realized that Smitten Kitchen had just posted more details than the other site, and truly the recipe was not TOO difficult. However, I will say that this is a bit more challenging than some of the other bread recipes I've tried thus far.
I think that my sponge was a little dry and I am a bit unsure why. When I incorporated the flour to make the dough, it took a while for the dough to come together and was really a very dry mess. I had to add some water to the dough, but by this point I was nervous. Had I just wasted 2+ hours of rising a sponge only to ruin it?? Did my use of honey instead of the barley malt powder or syrup ruin this?? As I pressed on I realized that no...I just needed some patience! When my mixer acted like it couldn't really handle the stress of the stiffened dough, I kneaded on the counter for about 10 minutes. The kneading for ten minutes really helped the rest of the ingredients come together. It was a stiff dough, and took some muscle to get it into shape.
Boiling the bagels was easier than I thought it'd be. I actually used two chop sticks to turn each bagel and fish them out of the water...despite the fact that I lost one boiled bagel to the floor after it flew off my slick chopstick. Thank goodness I had made 17 instead of 16. Boiling two bagels at a time allowed me to drop two into the water at the exact same time, fish two out relatively quickly, and top two bagels with the toppings before they dried. For the toppings I used poppyseed, minced dried onion, minced dried garlic, kosher salt. I also made several "everything" bagels which I have deemed my favorite.
The baking part was super easy, but I have learned that I need a better set of baking pans. I have a $2 grocery store pizza pan that my husband and I got LONG ago when we lived in an apartment together. It only held five bagels. Then, used an unrimmed cookie sheet that proved to be a messy option given that the lack of sides meant the cornmeal and toppings went flying on to my kitchen floor. And, it only held nine bagels...so I was left with figuring out how to bake the last two when I realized I had heated my pizza stone in the oven. When it came time to boil the last two bagels (which I left plain), I tossed some cornmeal onto the hot pizza stone. Lesson learned here - cornmeal will smoke if you leave it uncovered on a stone! Then, I grabbed the bagels out of the boiling water, let them drain, then tossed them onto the stone. I placed the two other pans in the oven and let them bake for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, I rotated the two pans, but left the pizza stone in place. Results of the pizza stone bagels were nice! A bit darker and more crunchy than the other bagels.I suggest using the convection setting on your oven if you've got it.
The results of my bagel baking experience are phenomenal. I am frankly quite impressed with how these homemade NYC style bagels came out. Much better than what I find at Panera or Einsteins. Even my husband, who doesn't like bagels pretty much inhaled an onion one without hesitation. I cannot wait to eat another one.
You can find the recipe I used here, on Smitten Kitchen's Blog: Bagel Recipe