Today is Bagelfest Day…I think. One of the calendars I use indicates July 26 is dedicated to bagels, yet Bagelfest itself took place over the weekend. Regardless of the true date, I had been eyeing Bagelfest with trepidation for some time.
I had never baked bagels, and I could not seem to shake the idea that baking bread is intimidating. Most of my resistance could be attributed to the multiple steps – kneading and waiting and punching and then doing it all again – inherent in any bread creation. And with bagels, I had to poach the dough. How was that going to work? “I don’t have to bake bagels just because it’s Bagelfest time,” I reasoned, “the calendar is just a guide.”
But on Saturday I stumbled upon the Brown Eyed Baker blog, and the most recent post at the time I visited the site was…bagels. “Darn it!” I exclaimed. I am not a subscriber to the notion “all things happen for a reason”, but I am a believer in the world using coincidence to get, or maybe guide, attention. And there was no way I could ignore that coincidence.
So, bagels it was. I decided to make egg bagels because those slightly sweet bagels are my favorite at Bruegger’s. I modified my recipe from those seen in Parragon’s The Big Book of Baking and Nigella Lawson’s How to Be a Domestic Goddess. As I read the recipes, that required kneading (twice!) and poaching, I began to think it was just too much. But towards the end of the process, I was thinking, kneading (only twice!) and poaching, how fun!
To this point, the only thing I had ever poached was an egg. I mentioned my grandfather’s influence on my blue cheese consumption in Sunday’s post, and he must be influencing me from afar this week because poaching (in terms of cooking, not hunting) again brings him to mind. I don’t remember our conversation all those years ago, but I remember being in his and grandma’s house on Jameson Street and watching him poach an egg. I ripped up the bread and placed it in our bowls. He gently laid the eggs on a pat of butter on top of the bread so the butter would melt. Delicious.
Given my own experience poaching eggs, I imagined strings of dough falling from the bagel into the water, but that did not happen. The bagels held their shape in the water, but I did learn the importance of securing the ends of the bagels together. I was a bit shy on the pinching at first, and as a result, I ended up with a few u-shaped bagels.
During the baking, I noticed the bottoms of the bagels browned more rapidly than the tops, which stands to reason given the high temperature. I double-stacked my baking sheets after the first batch, and that solved the problem.
I was disappointed the dough was not richly colored, given the use of the yolks and my expectation for egg bagels to be yellow. In fact, the dough looked rather boring. I decided to improvise with what I had on hand and baked cheddar and jalapeños onto a few.
These bagels tasted great with cream cheese, and I used them to make sandwiches. Like any bread, once you bake bagels you will realize the value in enjoying a freshly baked good. Freshly baked bagels are just so much more flavorful. Bagel making? It’s in the bag.
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 package (¼ ounce) rapid-rise yeast
- 1 cup warm water
- 4 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 2 egg whites, divided
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Whisk the flour, salt, and yeast together in a mixing bowl, then form a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
- Place 2 tablespoons of the sugar and one of the egg whites into the cup of warm water and pour into the well. Stir until just combined.
- Add the egg yolks, one at a time, stirring well after each addition to ensure sure each yolk is incorporated into the dough.
- Use a dough hook on low speed to knead for 10 minutes. The dough will eventually form itself into a ball.
- Once kneaded, place the dough ball into a bowl greased with vegetable oil. Turn the dough ball to coat the dough in oil.
- Cover the dough in the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp dish towel and let sit until the dough doubles in size, approximately 60 minutes.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface.
- Punch the dough down two or three times and then knead by hand approximately two to three minutes.
- Separate the dough into five fist-sized balls and roll each ball out into a rope.
- Cut the ropes into two pieces and form each into a circle. Slightly overlap the ends of the ropes and pinch to seal the ends.
- Place the formed bagels on greased baking sheets and cover until puffy, approximately 20 minutes.
- While the dough is resting, bring a large pot of water and the remaining two tablespoons of sugar to a boil.
- Poach the bagels in batches of two or three at a time, turning once, for one minute total.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the bagels from the water and allow to drain on a clean, dry towel.
- Place the drained bagels on a greased baking sheet.
- Beat the remaining egg white with two tablespoons of water and brush onto the tops of the bagels.
- Bake at 475 degrees until the bagels are a light golden brown, approximately 20-30 minutes.