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Adventure #20 to Poland: Bagels

Adventure #20 to Poland: Bagels

2nd Jun 2022

This week's adventure: I'm totally stoked. I've always wanted to make bagels, so this is my chance to cross off a location on my kitchen adventure bucket list.

Pre-adventure jitters: Boiling. Seriously. The "secret" to a great bagel is the boil. I cannot envision boiling bread. Quite frankly, it goes against the laws of nature. Buuuuttt, if bagels need to be boiled, boil I shall. Armed with my recipe from Love and Lemons, the adventure begins.

The Adventure: The best part about making bagels is that I already have EVERYTHING in my kitchen! I'm good to go without any trip to the store. No Where's Waldo, no multiple stops, just focusing on having some fun. Truth be told, it feels a bit like I'm cheating. Not enough to guilt me into trying something else, though. I LOVE a good bagel, so my tummy is already looking forward to the results of this adventure.

I get to use my dough hook! In the 30+ years of living on my own, I have NEVER used my dough hook. I toss in the ingredients, give it the obligatory 3 min mix, add a little water per the recipe, and it all comes together easy peasy. The knead is what a knead is...slow and annoying, buuttt I get it done and move on the the shaping. It says to roll it around on the board to form a ball. It doesn't form...I get no friction. It slips around under my hand and won't roll so much as a millimeter. I've never had anything like this happen before! I've formed all sorts of stuff on my board. I roll dough quite a bit, and this just defies logic. I decide to sprinkle a little water on the board and it gives me just enough stick to get a ball. I roll and stretch to get my tube of dough, wet the ends, wrap around my hand. Flip to roll the ends together annddd it gets all floppy. (sigh) Oh, for Pete's sake. This is waayyy harder than it sounded. Perfection goes out the window and I aim towards 'not awful' with my rings. I finally get the last bagel rolled and look at my pan of sadness. My bagels are deformed and irregular, but dough does all kinds of fun stuff as it raises, so I don't give up hope. The pans go in the fridge over night.

First thing in the morning, I pull them out and let them warm up. Get my water ready, bring it to a boil, and try the float. Seriously. It's so bizarre that you "float" bread to make sure it's ready to cook. And it floats! It looks like a little doughy sailboat. They're ready to boil! I drop the first three in, flip after a minute, pull them out and move on to the next set. Slather on the egg wash and move on to the toppings. Annndd then I realize my mistake. My raisins needed to be rolled into the dough. I'll pile some on top, but I'm not hopeful. That was a big oversight. I put shredded cheddar cheese on top of three...chopped chives on three...the loose raisins on the last two. They go in the oven and I hope for the best. I keep a sharp eye, cause there's a fine line between golden brown and charred...or what I've come to call cajun, since blackened is cool in cajun cuisine. It's all perspective, right? 

I look in and find them a beautiful toasted color and pull out the pan. As I suspected, the raisins look like little turds on the top of the bagels. I'll be flickin' them off first thing. The chives are also a fail. Even though I used the egg wash to hold them in place, they flake right off. The cheese? It's perfection! Chewy outside, bready inside, the bagel of my dreams. I've learned my lessons on this one. I know what to do differently next time. Mhm...this is gonna be a regular thing now that I know what I'm doing. One recipe off the bucket list and a fab breakfast option. On to the next adventure!

The Follow Up Adventure: Alrighty...so those little raisin turds really bothered me. I've come back around to the bagels and found the solution. Found the barley malt syrup at the Bent n Dent, which was shocking since they don't carry it at my grocery stores. Cleared off the shelf. Mhm...I'm officially one of "those" people now. Truth be told, I didn't notice much difference between that and the maple syrup, so I don't know as it's worth the ingredient search. 

I followed the directions the same as the first go round, but at the moment I started rolling out the dough ball into a rope, I pulled it apart a bit, tucked my toppings in, then continue making the dough rope. It worked beautifully. My add-ons of choice on the second adventure were mini chocolate chips, raisins with cinnamon, green onion with swiss cheese, and chives with cheddar. Everything but the chives was fantastic! I think chives just don't have a strong enough flavor. Note made on my recipe for the next time...cause now that I have this down, it's gonna be a thing. :)

The Recipe - Bagels

Ingredients:

For the dough

  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or barley malt syrup
  • 1 pkg. (¼-ounce) active dry yeast, (2¼ teaspoons)
  • 1¼ cups warm water
  • 540 grams bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt

For the poaching water

  • 1½ tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ tablespoon salt

For the toppings

  • 1 egg white plus 1 tablespoon water, optional


Directions:

  1. Prepare the dough: In a small bowl, combine the maple syrup, yeast, and water, and proof for 5 minutes or until foamy.
  2. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, place the flour, salt, and the yeast mixture. Mix on medium-low speed for 5 to 7 minutes, until the dough is well-formed around the hook. If the dough is very dry after 3 minutes, add 1 tablespoon water. (Note: I don't recommend mixing this dough without a stand mixer, it's a stiff dough that gets nice and smooth this way).
  3. Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and knead 2 to 3 minutes, until smooth and barely tacky, then form into a ball and place into a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot for 60 to 90 minutes, until the dough has risen (it may double in size or slightly less).
  4. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, grease them very lightly with oil, and set aside. Turn the dough out onto a clean, unfloured, work surface and divide into 8 pieces. Form each piece into a ball by rolling on the countertop with a cupped hand. As you work with each piece through the next few steps, keep the dough that you’re not working with covered in plastic wrap.
  5. Sprinkle a few drops of water onto the countertop. Take each dough ball and roll into a rope about 9 inches long. Place one hand palm up so that your four fingers are centered on top of the rope. Fold each side of the dough over your fingers, so that the ends overlap by about 2 inches. (see photo above). Holding the dough, turn your hand over and roll your hand on the countertop to seal the two ends together.
  6. Place each finished piece onto a baking sheet. Dust the tops with a very slight amount of flour to keep the plastic wrap from sticking to the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  7. The next morning, remove the pans from the fridge and let sit at room temp for 1 hour.
  8. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  9. Place one bagel into a small bowl of water to make sure it floats. If it sinks, let the dough proof for an additional 30 minutes or until one floats.
  10. Prepare the poaching water: In a large pot, bring two quarts of water to a boil with the maple syrup, baking soda, and salt.
  11. Add 3 bagels (or as many that comfortably fit) to the pot, reducing the heat if the water starts to boil over. Boil for 1 minute per side. Transfer the bagels back to the baking sheet, flipping them over so the smooth side is on top. Repeat with remaining bagels.
  12. Prepare the toppings: Beat the egg white and water together in a small bowl, if desired. Brush the bagels with the egg wash and sprinkle with the seasoning. Alternatively, you can skip the egg wash and dip the top of the bagel straight into the seasoning, but the egg wash helps the seasoning adhere better to the bagel.
  13. Bake for 14 to 18 minutes or until lightly golden brown.