Bagels- one of the world’s ultimate comfort foods!!! Like much of the world, we are practicing “social distancing” and staying indoors. So, we are getting a bit bored. To channel some of the pent up energy, I decided to take the kids on a walk down my memory lane . . . back to when I was a bagel baker. (prefer some boat talk? try this.)
Largely Unnecessary Disclosures
Full disclosure -the bagels were much better than our local bagel places here in Marin County, California, but not up to local-bagel-shop-on-virtually-every-corner-in-NY standards.
Full disclosure #2 -I took the recipe from Epicurious and made slight modifications to add the use of bagel boards. Follow link below for the recipe.
Full and final disclosure – prior to this effort to make bagels, my last time making bagel dough, rolling, or baking bagels was probably about thirty years ago -so cut me some slack please.
Bagel Dough Basics
The bagel recipe is by Peter Reinhart and is found on Epicurious. I don’t know Mr. Reinhart, but the recipe rings true in my memory. We used the same ingredients plus, at certain bagel stores, some chemical crap to keep them from going stale too quickly. We skipped the chemicals. And, if at all possible do find liquid malt. Malt really adds to the flavor both in the dough and in the boiling water.
One mandatory variation from the recipe in my opinion – DO NOT go punching a hole in a piece of dough as the recipe suggests might be acceptable. no. No! That is not okay. Bad bagel baker.
Roll the damned thing the way it has been done for generations!
The one thing I thought was lacking from the recipe was the use of bagel boards. Bagel boards are 3″ (ish) wide boards covered in burlap or other material and soaked in water. They are easy to make and worth the time.
As shown below, I just cut the boards from wood I had around. I then cut up a kitchen towel (Teresa has not yet noticed it missing) and stapled it to the boards. Before use, soak both sides in water to prevent burning.
Almost Time To Eat
As mentioned in the recipe, after 24 hours in the fridge pull the bagels out and let them rest at room temperature for about an hour. This is when you want to put your water up to boil. After the hour on the counter, the bagels are ready to go! Time to boil them. (notice malty color of the water)
When the bagels come out of the boiling water/malt mix they go onto the bagel boards. (A glistening shark skin appearance is what you want when they come out of the water.). Back when working in bagel stores this was the stage that revealed seasoned bagel bakers versus newbies. If you can handle the bagels without gloves or constantly putting your hands in cold water then you have the makings of a real bagel baker.
You then put your toppings on and the boards go into the oven on the baking stone. I put them on the right side of the stone because I was flipping to the left. One suggestion, leave a bit more room between the boards so that the right most board’s bagels flip onto as much fresh super hot stone as possible.
After about 4-5 minutes you flip the board so that the bagel flips onto the stone. What was the top of the bagel is now the bottom. The idea here is to give each side its turn in the dry hot air to crisp. It also keeps the “bottom” from burning.
When the tops are just turning golden brown, they are done!
We ate them with cream cheese and smoked salmon (not the great kippered salmon from Russ & Daughters I usually indulge in, but quarantine is causing bigger hardships than lack of kippered salmon).
More To Come- Suggestions Please
I plan on continuing to document some of the foodie type things we do here in the Bonder household. Hope y’all enjoy. Please subscribe and comments are usually welcome.
Finally, if you are bored -and you know you are- please read the rest of this blog. Start at the beginning -we are totally interesting and worth it.