This past weekend, I moved on to the third formula in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: bagels! I was pretty excited about this one, and wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I read lots of blogs in preparation for the project, and was confident that I would come out on top. For the most part, I did. And I took more pictures this time!
The first thing I had to do was make the sponge, which consisted of flour, water, and yeast. I mixed it up and then let it sit out while Michael and I went to the farmer’s market for the second week in a row. This is how it looked a few hours later.
Once the sponge was ready, I added more flour, salt, and yeast and mixed it up. I have to give myself some props here because I mixed the dough by hand (as I do with all my doughs, since I have no electric mixer), and this dough was particularly tough! Oh yes, I also don’t have a big mixing bowl, so I use a pot.
Once I finished kneading the dough, I formed it into medium-sized balls. The book said 4 oz. but I don’t have a scale (obviously), so I just eyeballed it. The dough had to rest for about 20 minutes, and then I started poking holes and shaping the bagels. When I started, I actually had kind of a tough time and got a little frustrated. I was having trouble keeping the bagel evenly shaped when I was forming the hole. And, whenever I thought I had made a decent sized hole, the dough would shrink back up, making the hole too small. Midway through, I started getting the hang of it, and even started using a new technique that is not mentioned in the book. I poked my middle and index finger through the hole and twirled the bagel around my fingers like it was a hula hoop. When the hole got bigger, I put my other two fingers through and continued until the bagel was decently sized. Here is the finished product. I ended up with a baker’s dozen.
The bagels had to sit for another 20 minutes, and then I had to attempt the “float test.” Basically, I had to drop a bagel into room temperature water, and it was supposed to float within 10 seconds. Moment of truth. And it floated! That was it for Saturday. The bagels went in the fridge overnight.
The next morning, I got up bright and early to start boiling and baking. I was able to boil three bagels at a time for 1 minute on each side.
After they were done boiling, I sprinkled on some toppings (sesame seeds, poppy seeds, minced onion, and minced garlic. The one huge problem I had in baking these was that I only have one small baking sheet. In retrospect, I definitely should have bought another one before making the bagels, because I was only able to bake four at a time. So, the whole process took a lot longer than it would have if I had more equipment. About an hour or so later, they were all done. The one other issue I had when baking was that I baked them by the book—500 degrees for 10 minutes. But, when the 10 minutes were up, they weren’t very brown. I debated leaving them in longer, but I was afraid they would dry out or something. I even left a batch in for nearly 15 minutes and there was still very little browning going on. But, in the end, they still came out pretty nicely.
The bagels were chewy and delicious and were akin to the kind you get from Manhattan Bagel. The only other problem I had was that when I went to put them in a bag for storage in the freezer, most of the sesame and poppy seeds fell right off. Oh well. All in all, it was a successful mission, but definitely a lot of work. I’ll have to wait until I get more baking sheets (and maybe a bigger oven) before I make another batch, though. Next on the list: brioche. It may be a while before I have time for this loaf, but we’ll see!