At the beginning of a cold Monday, I was determined not to allow the dreariness into my already cramped apartment. I had really been wanting bagels, but the only bagel shop that I really like is across town. Which means I have to take the Metro (20 min each way in the cold) or ride my bike (20 min each way in the cold, dodging traffic), or walk (40 min each way in the cold, dodging traffic with a little added risk exposure). When it is summer time, I would easily bike or walk- making it a nice way to get out in the middle of the day. Winter weather in the city makes the trek not as enjoyable.
So I decided that I could just try to make some bagels...and just see what happens. I found a fairly easy recipe, from Emeril Lagasse (oddly). I chose his, because it was not full of ridiculous notes and theories. It was simple, with detailed steps and made the process clear. I also read the recommendations from other bakers that had completed the recipe. I eventually made a few tweaks to his recipe to come up with my own...I can't help it.
I let the yeast, warm water and sugar sit and proof for about 5 minutes. Then I added the salt, and began mixing in the flour ( a 50/50 mixture of regular and bread flour) one cup at a time. I then dumped the mass of dough on to the counter and began kneading. It came together nicely in just a few minutes, with a spring to the touch. I let it rise in a bowl, until doubled in size.
When my bagel dough was just about to outgrow its bowl, I turned on the oven to preheat, to 425F degrees. I also put on a pot of water to boil (about 12 cups with a tablespoon of sugar to increase the boiling point). I cut the dough into 12 equal pieces and massaged each into a little mound. I stuck my finger in the center to make the hole and massaged it into a little bagel shape. One at a time, I set each one on an oiled baking sheet.
When the water was boiling, I dunked each bagel in for a brief 30 seconds to a minute, then placed them back on the tray and sprinkled on a few toppings to make them interesting. A few with flaky salt, a few with sesame seeds, and a few for the sweeter side, topped with a dusting of cinnamon and sugar.
They went into the oven for about 25 minutes, at which point I couldn't stand the delicious, warm, sweet smell of bread baking any longer. I took them out when they were perfectly golden. They were crusty on the outside and chewy on the inside.
I had no idea that making bagels is really no harder than making any other type of bread...even if my bagels may have come out in some not-so-circular shapes.
Brian was pretty excited to come home to see (and smell) freshly baked bagels. "Did you get some good pictures?", he asked. Before I could answer, he continued "...well I guess you may want to work on your form, first... " Yes, true, he was right. I did take a few pictures but only for proof. But regardless, this is not a Martha Stewart blog...just me... and my bagels.