Monday, November 7, 2016

It's Bagel Time!

 Here's a wonderful way to start off your Monday morning.
Make bagels.
Start with a pot of coffee.
You have a four-hour or even overnight window for the dough to chill, so you have that time to chill yourself.  Relax.  Have some wine.  Sit with your dog or cat and be happy.

Anyhoos, here are the bagels I made.
They didn't last long in the Hawthorne home.
I have poppy seed bagels, caraway/onion bagels, and homemade sea salt bagels.

Making bread grounds me.
Whether I'm feeling out of sorts.
Whether I'm feeling in sorts.
I always turn to bread to make me feel better.
I needed to make bread today.
To tell you the truth, I'd been feeling out of sorts for some time and I needed (kneaded?) bread to bring me back to familiar territory.  That's what bread does for me/to me.  It's a primal thing.  I don't expect many people to understand that, but those that do, know exactly what I'm talking about.  Making bread is part of me.  It's all about feeling.

My bread today took the form of bagels.
I was in a mood for bagels.
And I wanted to adorn my bagels with whatever I could.
There's nothing better than a well-accessorized bagel.
I made poppy seed bagels. 
I made onion and caraway bagels.
I made Rosie's very own homemade sea salt bagels.
I loved them all.
I should make bagels more often.

Rosie Sorta Does Julia's Bagels
2 TB unsalted butter, melted
1 package yeast
2 1/4 cups warm water
2 TB sugar
3 TB Crisco
1 TB kosher salt
2 tsp freshly ground pepper
approximately 6 cups bread flour  (I prefer King Arthur unbleached bread flour for most of my bread-baking needs.)

Mixing and Kneading:
First, brush the inside of a large (8-qt.) bowl with some of the butter.  Set aside.

Whisk yeast into 1/4 cup of the warm water.  Stir in a pinch of sugar and let the mixture rest until it proofs.  That means it gets all foamy, which means the yeast is alive and eating the sugar (It's hungry!), and it's releasing carbon dioxide.

Pour remaining 2 cups of warm water into a large bowl and add the Crisco.  Add yeast mixture along with the rest of the sugar, the salt, and the pepper.  Stir with a wooden spoon to mix.

Stirring vigorously, add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until you have a soft, sticky dough.  I put this in my Kitchen Aid and kneaded with the dough hook about 5 minutes. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, kneading by hand, adding sprinklings of flour as needed to keep dough from sticking to work surface or hands, until the dough is smooth and elastic - about 10 minutes.  I find a bench scraper is indispensable for working with dough.  And set a timer.  Ten minutes is longer than you think.

Form the dough into a ball and place it in the buttered bowl.  Brush the top of the bread with the melted butter, cover with buttered plastic wrap, top with a kitchen towel, and let dough rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead a bit.  Form into a ball, cover, and refrigerate for at least four hours.  If it's more convenient, leave it in the fridge overnight.  That's what I did.  It was late afternoon when I started the bread; I wasn't waiting four hours to chill, bread, that is, so I chilled myself with a good book and fell asleep.

When you're ready to make bagels, heat oven to 500°.  Leave a heavy iron skillet in the oven to heat up.  When you put in the bagels to bake, you'll be throwing ice cubes into the skillet to make steam. Brush two baking sheets with light oil.

Transfer dough to lightly floured surface.  Divide in half.  Cover and chill one half while you work with the first half.  Cut dough into 5 equal pieces, rolling into balls.  Work with one piece at a time, covering the rest with a towel.

To form a bagel, the gluten must be developed to create the structure.  Pull the dough up from the bottom, stretch it, and pinch at the top.  Keep pulling and pinching until you have a tightly packed round of dough with a little topknot.  Turn dough topknot side down and insert index finger into center of dough, wiggling finger around the hole to enlarge it. With the dough on the index finger and hooked over the thumb of the other hand, rotate the dough, circling with thumb and finger stretching the hole to about a 3-inch diameter.  Place bagel on greased baking sheet.  Cover.  Repeat with remaining 4 dough balls.

Boiling the bagels:
Bring water to boil in a large pot.  Julia doesn't give a size here, but I used a 6-qt. pan.

1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda

Add sugar and baking soda to the boiling water and lower the bagels with a slotted spoon into the water. Maybe only two at a time.  Do not crowd the the bagels.  You don't want them to touch.  The bagels should sink to the bottom, then rise to the top.  After the bagels have surfaced, boil for about 2 minutes on each side.  Remove bagels, shaking off excess water, and set on greased waxed or parchment paper, with smoothest side of bagel up.  Continue boiling bagels and transferring to paper.  There's a reason I put the bagels on greased paper before placing on greased baking sheets.  It's forthcoming.

Prepare the glaze and toppings:
2 egg whites
1 tsp water
poppy seeds
caraway seeds
minced onion
unsalted butter
sea salt

Whisk whites and water together and brush each bagel with the glaze.  Had you brushed the egg white glaze over the bagels in the greased pan, the whites would have glued the bagels down.  So you paint the whites with the bagels on paper, then dip the bagels in seeds or sprinkle them with the toppings, and place them on the greased baking pans.

For the poppy seeds, it was easiest to simply dip the glazed bagels in a plate of seeds.
If you want sesame seeds, try this method also.  I forgot all about sesame seeds.

I melted a little butter, added in some caraway seeds and minced onion, cooked until fragrant, then smeared it over a few glazed bagels.

I sprinkled sea salt over some other bagels.

Now this is where you can get creative.  If you'd like some minced garlic on your bagels, I'd sauté the garlic in butter and dip the bagel in.  Do not brown the garlic. Just heat it.  Overcooked garlic is bitter and needs to be thrown away.

You could also dip the bagel in sesame seeds if you like.  Cinnamon, raisins, and sugars?  Fennel?  Rye?  Keep on thinkin'!

Baking the bagels:
Fill a pint cup with ice cubes and 1/2 cup cold water.  Place the tray of 5 bagels in the oven and immediately toss the ice cubes and water into the iron skillet, quickly closing the door to capture the steam.  Reduce temperature to 450° and bake bagels for 25 minutes.  Turn off oven and keep bagels in oven for 5 minutes.  Open door and let bagels remain for 5 more minutes.  Transfer to rack and let cool.

While the first batch of bagels bakes, prepare the second, refrigerated batch.  Remember to up the oven temp back to 500° for the second batch.

Accoutrements for the bagels:
Think about your cream cheese.
These bagels demand a little more from your cream cheese, so please, put some thought into this.
Think about mixing some cream cheese with perhaps softened butter and some honey or pure maple syrup and some toasted nuts - pecans or walnuts. 
For the cinnamon bagels, what about some cream cheese with raisins and apples.  Perhaps a kiss of vanilla.
A bagel with toasted rye seeds with cream cheese mixed with orange juice, walnuts, and rum sounds right up my alley. 
You name it!  The flavors are all up to you.

Now for the step-by-steps...

I mixed water, yeast, and a sprinkle of sugar, so the yeast would have something to dine on.

The yeast has "proofed."  It's proved it's alive by eating and getting all foamy.

Mix it up.  Crisco, water, sugar, and salt.
Add in puffy yeast.

A few good grinds of pepper.

And mix away.
Hmmmm.  Why didn't Rosie start out in the Kitchen Aid bowl, saving herself another bowl to wash?

Here you have a sticky dough.  After five minutes in the Kitchen Aid.

Always knead by hand to finish it off.
You want it smooth and elastic.
It's a tactile thing.
You can feel it when it's right.

Let your dough rise with a pink rose above it.

And now, just follow the pictures.
I've already given you the "here-for."
Here's the "how-to."

I boiled one at a time.

Shake off excess water.

Do the other half of the dough!

Imagine whatever toppings you want.

That's my homemade sea salt going on this bagel.


Let me know how long yours lasted.
Also, try them sliced and buttered and cream cheesed and marmaladed for breakfast.
Don't forget some nuts.  Maybe some Nutella.  Perhaps a sprinkling of Turbinado sugar.  Oh - some Blue Ridge Mountain sourwood honey today; Colington Harbour honey tomorrow.

 Ahhh ....  the possibilities.

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