Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Beauty Of Bagels.

Ahhh...  The bagel.
Who doesn't love a bagel?


Ode to a Bagel by Wally Glickman

Hail to thee bright shiny torus
Harbinger of joy and tzouris
Waterproof, but slightly porous
Sing ye now, oh sing the chorus,
Sing the sacred words of Horus,
Queen, my shining star, Polaris …
Wait I'm checking my thesaurus.

Blessed bread with chewy soul,
Serene, yet joyous, noble, droll,
Who leads in each Semitic poll,
On porcelain plate, on beggar's bowl.
In luncheonette, on grassy knoll.
No baguette, brioche or roll
Can dare compare with thy sweet hole.

Sacred muffin, holy bread,
One munch on thee, my soul is fed.
May God of Moses strike me dead
Were I to choose croissants instead!
Fluffy? Flaky? More like lead.
And yet, when I arise from bed
I think on thee; and sorrow's fled.

Oh portent of a day supreme,
As when the rising sun doth stream
And pierce my window with its beam,
I smell the wafted coffee steam,
See thee, tomato, lox, agleam
With garlic, onion, cheese of cream...
I know not if I sleep or dream.

Philosophy'll oft be vague; 'll
Let you down. The Arts finagle.
Keep your Shakespeare, Kant and Hegel,
I'll have thee, oh noble bagel.

I love a good bagel.  And by "good bagel" I mean a bagel fresh out of the oven.  Sliced.  With butter schmeared over it.  And lots of cream cheese.

And homemade.  It has to be homemade.  Forget those twisty bags of leaden tori you find in the bread section of your supermarket.  Those are unacceptable.  There's nothing like homemade.

I have two bagel recipes for you.
And they call for non-diastatic malt powder and/or organic barley malt syrup. According to sources, "Malt's the key."  But you can do without either of those.  I happened to use them since I have Amazon prime and I love getting packages. 

First, what is non-diastatic malt powder?  It's a powder extracted from sprouting barley.  The grains are first soaked in water to begin germination, then the germination is halted with hot air.  The grains are dried (in a process called malting) and, once dried, the malt is ground into a slightly sweet powder - sweet, because a substance called maltodextrine is developed along with the sucrose and fructose already in the grain.  I'm using non-diastatic malt powder, which implies there's a diastatic malt powder.   What's the difference?  Diastatic malt powder contains active enzymes from the sprouting grains which the yeast feeds off of, enabling dough to rise.  Non-diastatic malt powder does not contain active enzymes and is most often used as a sweetener to give baked goods more flavor.  It also gives baked goods a glossier appearance and a softer and more consistent crumb.  Non-diastatic malt is "simply for coloring and flavoring," the color change being more pronounced in the crust.  Diastatic malt affects the chemistry of the dough.

Second, what is organic barley malt syrup?  Barley is sprouted, then kiln-roasted, water-extracted, and slowly reduced to a thick syrup.  Sprouting barley creates enzymes that convert starch to sugars. Evaporation concentrates it all to rich syrup.  Basically, it's an unrefined sweetener.  Added to your bagels, it supposedly gives more flavor and improves shelf life and it's what gives New York style bagels their characteristic flavor and texture.

To be honest with you, I don't know if the malt powder and malt syrup made any difference at all to my bagels.  I'd have to do a side-by-side comparison test and even then I don't think I could actually taste any difference.
Bottom line:  I think you could leave out the malt powder and malt syrup.  They are not defining my bagels.  If you want to be adventurous, pour in some molasses and call it a day.

That said, let's make some bagels.

To make it more fun, I have two bagel recipes for you.

NOTE:  Both are TWO-DAY bagels, meaning you make a STARTER the first day, then make the bagels the second day.

 Bagels #1
2 cups King Arthur unbleached bread flour
1 cup warm water
1 tsp yeast

For the starter, combine all ingredients, cover, and leave at room temperature overnight.
2 1/2 cups King Arthur unbleached bread flour 
2 tsp yeast 
2 tsp kosher salt
1 TB non-diastatic malt or barley malt syrup
1/2 cup warm water

For the dough, combine the starter with remaining ingredients to form a stiff dough.  Knead well, about 10 minutes.  You want a smooth and elastic dough.  Place in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise about 2 hours.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and divide into 16 pieces, rolling each piece into a ball.  Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.  The balls will puff up slightly.

Poke a hole in each ball of dough and twirl around your finger until hole is 1 1/2" in diameter.  Place on lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets.  Cover and let rest for about an hour.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Pour in a tablespoon or two of the barley malt syrup.  Or not.  I had it so I poured it.

Gently drop in 2 or 3 bagels and let boil one minute on each side, then transfer to a rack.

Brush each bagel with an egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 TB water) and sprinkle on toppings.  For toppings, I used poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and caraway seeds with onions.  Not all on the same bagels.  Different seeds for different bagels.

Bake in a 400° oven for about 25 minutes, until deep golden.
Remove from baking sheets and let cool on rack. Or slice and schmear and eat immediately.  Like I did.
Here are my step-by-steps:

Make the starter.

Let it rise, covered, overnight.

The next day...
Make the dough.
And add the starter.

Knead until you have a smooth, elastic ball of dough.

Place in an oiled bowl, turning dough to coat, then cover and let rise.
Turn dough onto working surface.

Divide into 16 small balls.
Let 'em rest.

Make a hole in the center and twirl to make bagel shape.
Let rise a bit.

Bring water to a boil and gently slide in two or three bagels at a time.  Boil one minute on each side.
(Use the malt syrup if you have it.  If not, don't sweat it.)

Boiled bagels on left.  Ready to boil on right.

Boil away.

Brush boiled bagels with egg wash.

Apply toppings.
Poppy seeds and sesame seeds on these.

 Onion and caraway seeds on others.
(My favorites.)

And bake!

Plain bagels are fine too!

Bagels #2

1 tsp yeast
4 cups King Arthur unbleached bread flour
2 1/2 cups warm water

 For the starter:  Combine all of the ingredients.  Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight.

2 tsp yeast
3 3/4 cups King Arthur unbleached bread flour
2 tsp kosher salt
1 TB barley malt syrup

For the dough:  Add the dough ingredients, using only 3 cups of the flour, to the bowl with the starter.  Mix on low speed with the dough hook, or knead by hand, until it forms a ball.  Then slowly work in the remaining 3/4 cup flour to stiffen up the dough.  Continue kneading until dough is pliable and smooth.

Divide dough into 16 pieces.  Shape into bagels by poking a hole in each ball and gently stretching or twirling the balls around your finger until the hole is 1-2 inches in diameter.  Let bagels rest on lightly oiled pans or on parchment-lined pans for about 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 425°.

Bring a large pan of water (with the malt syrup in it) to a boil.  If you don't have malt syrup, you could add in molasses, or honey, or brown sugar.  Gently slide in 2 or 3 bagels at a time and boil for one minute on each side.  If you like your bagels chewier, extend boiling time to two minutes. Remove from boiling water.

Brush each bagel with egg wash and apply toppings.

Bake at 425° for about 25 minutes, rotating pans halfway through.
Cool on racks.

Now, for the how-to's:
Combine starter ingredients.

I did all of this in my stand mixer with the dough hook.
The starter will form a sticky batter.

Cover the starter and leave it at room temperature overnight.

Here's the starter the next day.

Starter, flour, yeast, salt, and malt syrup ready to mix.

Mix together.

Mixee.  Mixee.

Divide into 16 balls and let rest.

Form into bagel shapes.

Cover and let rise.

Bring water with malt syrup in it to a boil
and gently drop bagels in without crowding the pot.
I found a wider pot, so I'm boiling 4 at a time.
Boil one minute or so on each side.

Boil and transfer to a rack.

Brush bagels with egg wash.

And apply toppings.
Sesame seeds and poppy seeds here.
Red Hawaiian Alaea sea salt.
Onion and caraway seeds.

And bake.

Beautemous bagels!


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