Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bagels: Part of a complete breakfast

To address some of the questions many of you have been asking me on Facebook and elsewhere, I've decided to dedicate a blog entry to bagel-making. Questions have consisted primarily of "How DO you make bagels?" and "Are they hard to make?"

Last summer, I decided I wanted to learn to make bagels. And, with the help of the internet, that desire became a reality. I simply typed into a Google search "How to make bagels" and was on my way. The very first link led me here, where I learned all about the bagel-making process. The recipe is very simple, and the directions are very straight foreword and helpful. This addresses the first question: how do you make bagels?

Now, are they hard to make? At first glance, that recipe page may seem long, tedious, and daunting. But to be honest, it's not that hard. The first time through it is a little time-consuming because you are still learning the process, but after the first or second time you've done it, the process is much easier and the time more manageable. At this point in time, I've broken the process down into stages. I've also figured out a couple little tricks to make things easier.

Homemade Bagels

4 cups bread flour
1 Tbs sugar
1 1/2 Tsp salt
1 Tbs oil (recipe calls for vegetable oil, but I use olive)
2 Tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups warm water (not too hot or cold, you'll know)

Stage 1

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and knead for about 10 minutes.
(Add water last. Use the first 1 1/4 cups, and only add the remaining 1/4 cup if you are having trouble integrating all the flour. Add only tiny bits more if that's still not enough. It might take a little while to get it going but give it a couple minutes to decide if you really need it.)

After you're done kneading the dough, separate it into 8 equal balls.

Leave the balls alone for 20 minutes to let them rise.

Stage 2

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit.

Roll balls to form bagels.
(This part takes practice, and it gets easier the more you do it. Sometimes if I have trouble with the dough sliding around due to dryness, I moisten my hands with water. If they are too wet, though, they will also slide around. You can also moisten the ends of the rolled dough with your hands to make them stick together better.)

Leave again for 20 minutes to let rise.

Stage 3

Fill a large pot (or a frying pan with tall sides, which is what I use) with water and bring to a boil.

Place bagels in water and boil for about a minute on each side. Do not crowd the pot. Boil them in 2 or 3 batches if you have to. Remove bagels and set aside to dry for a minute or two.

While bagels are drying, grease a large baking tray with cooking spray or oil. Set bagels on tray.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Stage 4

Flip the bagels over.

Bake for another 10 minutes.

Remove bagels from oven and let cool for 20 minutes.

Stage 5

Cut, spread on the cream cheese, and enjoy your delicious homemade bagels!

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