I have been looking forward to this week’s BBA Challenge (bagels) for several reasons. I’ve made them many times before, so I knew I could knock them out without too much difficulty. And I figured if worse came to worst, I could just skip them, as I’ve already done them. Well, instead of skipping them, I made them twice.
For the first batch I decided to mix things up a bit, so I used the sourdough option that PR discusses in a side note. I mixed up my starter (although after the fact I realized I didn’t exactly follow the directions, so I had to adjust the hydration of the dough) and used it in place of the sponge. Adjusting the yeast was a bit tricky, as the sidebar says to increase it, but then so does the Grace Note on making cinnamon raisin bagels, which I was also doing. In the end, I used 2 teaspoons of instant yeast, which seemed to work out pretty well.
The dough was stiff but a bit sticky, so I had to add additional flour as I kneaded. And I kneaded by hand, not with my KA Artisan like I do with most doughs, because this dough is just too stiff for the mixer to handle. Kneading in the raisins is always an issue, as they seem to want to stay clumped together. The best way I have found to mix them in is to pat the dough into a rectangle, spread about 1/3 of the raisins on the dough, fold the edges into the middle, and then keep kneading. After the first third gets mixed in, repeat twice more to get all the raisins incorporated. It takes more than the two minutes the recipe allots for, but they will eventually get mixed in.
The next step was to cut the dough into chunks. I highly recommend scaling the dough for this step. It is impossible to get evenly sized bagels without weighing the dough. I don’t get too hung up on hitting 4.5 ounces right on the nose. Anywhere between 4.4 and 4.6 is fine with me. After scaling, I rolled the dough into balls, and let them rest for about 20 minutes.
PR gives two methods for shaping the bagels. I have done both and don’t really notice much difference in the final product. So I tend to use the first method, which is to poke a hole in the center of the dough and stretch it until you have about a 2 1/2 inch hole in the center. I usually try to make the hole bigger than I think it should be, as this dough is quite elastic and will want to pull back into shape.
After shaping and another 20 minute rest (and the dreaded float test), the recipe says to let the bagels rest in the fridge overnight, which I didn’t do, as I decided to bake the bagels all in one day. I gave them a little longer rest, maybe 30 minutes total, while I got the oven and boiling water ready. Then I boiled and baked them one tray at a time. They came out really nice and chewy, although to be honest maybe slightly too chewy. I may have boiled them for a bit too long. Chewy or not, they lasted less than a week, which is why I decided to go ahead and bake another batch, this time without the sourdough.
For the second batch I did cinnamon without raisins, as my daughters don’t like them with raisins (oh, and I was out of raisins). This time I used the sponge as called for in the recipe and otherwise followed PR’s instruction with the exception of not adding raisins. After shaping and resting, I waited 20 minutes before testing for the float. They floated on the first try, so into the fridge they went.
The next day, I worked with one pan at a time. I don’t like messing about with moving the pans from shelf to shelf. And I’ve found that I can boil the second pan in about the time it takes to bake the first batch. So, here’s the first pan, ready to boil:
This time when I boiled the bagels, I was careful not to go over the 1 minute per side mark. In fact, I shot for 45 seconds per side, and was pleased with the results (more on that below).
After the boil, I baked them at 500 dF for 5 minutes then rotated the pan, lowered the heat to 450, and baked another 6 1/2 minutes. And here’s the finished product (including the crumb shot that someone pointed out I missed in my Artos post):
Despite the absence of raisins, the second batch was my favorite. The reduced boiling time made for a less chewy, yet still dense and flavorful, bagel. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: This is one recipe I will definitely make again!