Saturday, May 30, 2009

Bread Baker's Apprentice 3/43: bagels

I am not a huge bagel person. Check that, I was not a huge bagel person. I am a huge bagel person now.

Thank you, Peter Reinhart.


Prior to this weekend -- the first time I made bagels at home, from scratch -- I generally did not waste my time on bagels. They were always just a big mass of dough, requiring a lot of chewing and not a ton of payoff. The possible exceptions being cinnamon-sugar bagels, which are almost a dessert, and bagels from Husband's New York hometown, loaded high with egg salad. But other than that, yeah. Give me a doughnut, an egg, even an English muffin. I'll pass on the bagels.


But then this weekend happened: week three of The Bread Baker's Apprentice challenge, which brought us bagels. As with all his recipes, Peter Reinhart shares with us the reasons behind the choices he makes with his bread formulas -- we get to learn exactly what makes an incredible bagel incredible. In this case, it is a handful of specialty ingredients and a day or so of patient proofing that allow the home baker to replicate that quality bagel-shop taste.

The handful specialty ingredients: high-gluten flour and diastatic malt powder. A quick trip over to King Arthur Flour's Web site and a few days later, I had nine pounds of the high-gluten, hard-to-find-in-regular-groceries flour sitting right on my front porch, along with a bag of malt powder and hell, why not, a dough whisk.


The day or so of patient proofing: Peter's recipe involves a stretchy, bubbly sponge that requires a two-hour rest, which is then used to make a stiff dough that must be kneaded diligently to develop the gluten. After the bagels are shaped, they head off into the refrigerator for a chilly overnight stay, which allows enzymes in the dough to release their flavors. Trust Peter on this one: a long cold fermentation engenders amazing bagels, bagels that are good enough to turn a person with tepid feelings about bagels into a person who has to eat the entire batch, like, now.


Husband helped me with the boiling and the addition of the toppings -- we made four plain, two poppy seed, two with a mixture of poppy seeds and kosher salt, two sesame seed and two garlic.


(Husband is prepared with his odoriferous yet delicious garlic topping.)

I called Mom and informed her that there were freshly-baked bagels cooling in the kitchen and this was her response: "I will be right over. I am five minutes away. I was going to do something else but I am hungry." Husband dug right into his garlic bagel while Mom and I went for the sesame seed. The bagels were chewy, with a perfect crust and a faintly nutty, vaguely sweet, complex bready flavor. Within moments my batch of 12 bagels was down to five.


And I had become a bagel person.


++++++

The Bread Baker's Apprentice challenge asks that we do not share the recipes from Reinhart's book. But if you want to become a bagel person, procure a copy of the book and turn to page 115.

19 comments:

peteeatemall said...

I loved making them too! Now on to Brioche! Happy Baking!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Your bagels are beautiful! I could have eaten a few of them yesterday, with my smoked salmon...

Cheers,

Rosa

susies1955 said...

That is great that your a bagel person now. :)
Your photos are nice and your bagels look great.
Nice job,
Susie

Audrey said...

They're perfect! I'm baking mine right now (or I will be, as soon as I make the coffee!)

lelah said...

You could make pretty good money opening a bagel shop in Hudson, I bet. Not like that gross Einstien chain, but real, east coast style bagels that are made fresh every morning. Mmmmm. My first job was at a bagel store in NJ. Good times.

gaaarp said...

I love your bagels! And how happy your NY husband must be that you've seen the light. I make bagels about once a month. My wife loves the cinnamon raisin ones, so that's what I usually end up making.

Dianne said...

Wow, thanks everyone for your kind comments! Though the BBA challenge is young, so far this has been my favorite week.

Peteeatemall, I'm very excited for the brioche -- I've never attempted it before and am eager to eat the results.

Rosa, they would have been marvelous with smoked salmon!

Susie, I feel like a whole world of delicious bagelness has opened before me....

Audrey, thank you! I hope yours turned out great.

Lelah, you have a point there. There's definitely a bagel niche that is not currently being filled around here....

Gaaarp, thank you so much! Husband is indeed very happy -- he is wondering what in the world took me so long.

Cindy said...

Welsome to the dark side. Well if loving bagels is a dark thing then you're one of us!! Congrats. Your post made me laugh and your bagels look great. Hubby is cute!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Dianne that's a great write up of going over to bagels. I imagine you're pretty much hooked on bread as I am.
This challenge is really mind and taste altering!
Beautiful bagels.

Laura said...

I've always been afraid of making bagels--I have no idea why--but you really make me want to try!

Kelly said...

Wow, those look perfect!

Anne Marie said...

I am so envious about your ability to take a "quick trip over to king arthur flour." Here in Texas, we pour over the catalogue, order and wait... Great pictures.

Dianne said...

Anne Marie, thanks! But what I meant was, a virtual trip over to King Arthur Flour. A trip over to their Web site, if you will. I had to wait for my shipment to arrive, too. :)

Cindy, thanks! By the way, Husband is very flattered. You're going to make his head bigger than it already is! ;)

Thanks everyone!

Tracie said...

Those look great! I've been debating between making bagels or pretzels for my next gathering....bagels may have just won out!

Dianne said...

Tracie, what a great dilemma to have! Both are so good....

Jeff said...

I like the dough whisk and now am heading back to KA for what seems like the thousandth time to buy one. I could not find high gluten flour until I went to the co-op.

Was the garlic one just raw garlic topped before baked? If so awesome idea because I am looking for ways to keep the vampires/bad dates away at all times.

Dianne said...

Jeff, the garlic was garlic flakes that I rehydrated by placing them in a sieve and running them under water for a few minutes. I don't know why you couldn't use fresh raw garlic, but then again maybe it would burn. Anyway, it is critically important to ward off vampires and bad dates.

Natashya said...

They are gorgeous! There is nothing like homemade to change your opinions around. :)

Dianne said...

Natashya, thank you! You are totally right -- nothing is ever as good as homemade. Thanks for reading!