I’ve never been a bagel person, but given that the only bagels I’ve ever had were from supermarkets or the like in Western Canada, I doubt that I’ve had the best. Perhaps really good bagels will change my mind? No idea, but since bagels were next in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, I was willing to give it a try.
As usual, I converted the recipe to grams and halved it. After all, it’s just Fahim and I, and if we don’t like ‘em, then what? Yeah, hopeful and pragmatic.
I can’t get high gluten flour, or even bread flour for that matter, so used my all-purpose mystery flour. No barley malt syrup, diastatic malt, or anything even remotely like it. I tried making some, but that was a huge flop. User *cough* error, of sorts. Anyway, I used honey instead.
If you want to see the original Peter Reinhart Bagel recipe, it’s up at smittenkitchen.com, and the bagel pictures over there look really really nice. Not like my alien amoeba-like blobs.
Peter Reinhart’s Bagels
Yield: 6 extremely large, 8 regularly large or 12 miniature bagels
- 543 grams sourdough starter (100% hydration), refreshed
- 241grams (8.5 ounces) flour
- 10 grams (0.35 ounces /1 1/4 teaspoons) salt
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon baking soda (in the boiling water
- Sesame seeds
Because I’m using my sourdough starter in the place of the sponge, things changed. The first step was to make the sponge using flour, water, and yeast. Instead, I refreshed my starter and waited until it was vigourously active.
Then I added the remainder of the ingredients, mixed in my cwappy little mixer until it sounded like it was going to have a seizure, then removed it and plopped it onto my counter for kneading.
This was a firm dough. I added no additional flour to it during the kneading process – none was required as it didn’t stick to anything. Nada. Unsurprisingj – I calculated the hydration of the dough at somewhere around 52%, if I recall correctly. I wrote it down somewhere, but, eh, no idea where that is now.
I kneaded until it passed the windowpane test – still no thermometer and probably won’t be for a very very long time.
Then I let them sit for 20 minutes and dunk one in water to see if it floats.
Mine floated like a witch.
No hesitation, not even a smidge of movement towards the bottom. Just float. Float float float float float.
Ayup. Time to stick ‘em in the fridge for overnight.
While I do have extra virgin olive oil, ghee, and even canola oil in the house (oil of choice for mayonnaise), the standard all-purpose oil that I use is virgin coconut oil. Great in curries, breads, and whatever else. I have the others around for specific purposes – canola for when flavourless is required, ghee for some curries & specific dishes, olive oil for European & Mediterranean dishes.
Thing is, while virgin coconut oil is a great oil, it becomes solid at around 25-27C. The fridge temp is in the neighborhood of 4C. So, you see, a problem arises.
The oil I smeared on the baking sheet that I placed the bagels on was solid. The bagels stuck to it, naturally enough. The plastic sheet covering the bagels was covered in now-solid coconut oil as well. A thin layer, yes, but solid nonetheless. And sticking, again, occurred.
Removing the plastic sheet didn’t do too much damage to the bagels, but removing the bagels from the cooking sheet… Ah, yes. Deformities. Mutations. Freakishly odd-looking bagels resulted.
Note to self: don’t use virgin coconut oil with baking projects that you’ll be sticking in the fridge. Don’t use it to make mayo either, but you already knew that…
Anyway. I pried the bagels off the baking sheet and dunked ‘em in boiling water, a minute per side, remove, and, as soon as I could handle ‘em, stuck ‘em headfirst into a plate of sesame seeds. Should have been lighter on the sesame seeds. Then line ‘em up on a baking sheet and baked 5 minutes, then rotated and baked another five at whatever temperature that broken oven has that approaches 450F. I think I might have baked them an extra five minutes or so for them to get enough colour in their cheeks.
I removed them from the oven and let them cool.
The bagels were tough and chewy and our jaws got a massive workout. Too chewy. Way way way too chewy. They were pretty flat, though, while I was hoping for decent rise. I don’t think they rose at all in the oven. They were thin enough that they were a challenge to slice in half, but I managed, barely, and without bloodshed. That’s always a win.
They tasted nice, though. Actually had really really good flavour with just at hint of sourness from the sourdough starter. My sourdough starter is not sour, after all.
Will I make bagels again? Honestly, I’m not too sure. I’m not a diehard fan anyway, so I don’t feel like I’m missing anything, but there’s that inquisitive side that wonders if I can make them work. Boil them for a shorter time period, for instance. Shape them differently so they’re not as flat and have the potential to plump up more. Other than that, though, I’m honestly not really sure what I could do to make them work for me. Maybe more research. But then, there are so many other breads that I do enjoy and that do work with a lot less fuss, so there isn’t a lot of point other than sheer stubborness on my part. I hate being defeated. So, right now, it’s a stalemate.
I’m also submitting this post to Yeastspotting, a weekly showcase of truly drool-worthy breads. In addition to this being part of Sourdough Saturday here on my blog.