It's Spring again, and with it brings a new semester and a new class: Green Media. The focus of this class is to make media about making local and seasonal food. Our first project, logically, is the breakfast project. This was a sort of warm-up project, so the goal was simply to make some breakfast food, enjoy it with the class, and make media about it.
I decided to make bagels. My favorite part of cooking is knowing I have the power to create things that are generally thought of as store-bought-only. Bagels are a mysterious entity and no one that I know has ever made them from scratch, so I wanted to give it a try. I usually avoid recipes that call for yeast because the rising times seem so daunting, but when I just went for it, it really wasn't so bad. Here is how I made the bagels...
Step One: Find a recipe
My original goal was to make basil bagels because I own a beautiful basil plant named Darlene that I've raised from seed and wanted to use her leaves in my food. Here are my search results:
Google Search: "basil bagels recipe"
Scanning down the list, I saw a lot of "tomato basil" recipes. Not only did I not have any tomatoes on hand, I didn't want to use tomatoes for another reason: they're not in season. This is how I figured out what was in season in the bay area:
California Availability Guide
This guide was a link I found on our professor, David Silver's, blog syllabus for our class. However, another way to find the same information would be to Google Search: "California seasonality chart".
Anyways, after I Googled "basil bagels recipe", I scanned down the list and found what I thought would be a recipe for basil bagels. It was the seventh on the list and was titled "Basil Bagels Recipe | Tastespotting". As you can see, when you click on the link it brings you to a simple picture of some bagels and not much else. Because I had no other choice, I clicked on the photograph, which linked me to this page: "Basic Bagel Recipe | Better With Butter". After reading over it for a bit, I gathered that this is a blog of someone new to bread-making just like I am. This recipe was for plain bagels, but I decided to use it anyways as a good first bagel recipe.
Step Two: The Ingredients List
I had to scroll down a bit to find the ingredients list, but it's the first thing I like to look at on a recipe to determine how expensive my cooking endeavor will be. Here are the ingredients:
- 2 eggs
- 1 egg white
- 1 potato, peeled and quartered
- 1 packet of active dry yeast
- 4 cups of high-gluten or bread flour
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar (divided)
- 1/2 tablespoon of salt
Everything looks pretty basic. You can find all of these items at the store. However, there are a few things I want to point out:
1. This recipe calls for 2 eggs and an egg white. This means that you need to start with three eggs, but the last one needs to be separated. To separate an egg, follow the instructions in this "How To Separate Egg Whites" video.
2. This recipe calls for a peeled and quartered potato. This means the potato needs to have its skin removed using either a peeler or a knife. Quartering a potato simply means cutting it into four equal-sized chunks.
3. This recipe calls for one packet of active dry yeast. You can buy these packets at the store, but if you have yeast in bulk or in a jar, you will need to know how much to measure out. A packet of yeast generally contains 2 1/2 teaspoons, so this is how much you will use for this recipe.
4. This recipe calls for high-gluten or bread flour. Most people who cook have all-purpose flour already in their kitchens. However, this kind of flour will not produce desirable results when making bagels (in other words, they wont be chewy). Make sure to get bread or high-gluten flour, which can be found near the all-purpose flour in the grocery store.
5. This recipe notes that you will need 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar (divided). This simply means that you will use a part of that amount of sugar during one step during the baking process, and the rest of that amount during another part of the baking process. Pay attention to the instructions in the recipe whenever it talks about this ingredient (sugar) to make sure you are using the right amount for each step.
Step Three: Preparing The Batter For Mixing
This section is important because most recipes do not explain how to mix, they simply list the ingredients to add and hope you know what you're doing. I'm going to be much more detailed because I think it will make everyone's results turn out much better.
The first thing to do is boil a pan of water big enough to fit your potato. Once the water is boiling (that is, once bubbles are constantly rolling to the top of the water), carefully add the peeled and quartered potato. Leave it in there for 15 minutes, making sure the water doesn't spill out of the pan. If it begins to boil over, turn down the heat a little bit.
After 15 minutes, throw away the potato and, using a wet measuring cup pour 2/3 cup of the pan's water into a glass. Put this glass into the freezer for about 10 minutes.
While the glass is chilling in the freezer, get a large bowl. Using a dry measuring cup and a spoon, spoon flour into the measuring cup. Do not dip the measuring cup directly into the flour, as this will pack the flour and you will end up adding too much to your bagels. Instead, lightly spoon the flour into the cup and add 4 cups to the bowl. Add a half tablespoon of sugar and a half tablespoon of salt and mix lightly with your hands.
Test the water in the freezer with your hands. The temperature should feel similar to that of a hot tub or hot bath. Or, if you have a thermometer, it should be 110 degrees or less. Add the 2 1/2 teaspoons of yeast to the cooled potato water, give it a quick stir, and allow it to sit for about 5 minutes. You will know it's ready when you see a slight foam begin to form at the top of the glass.
Step Four: Mixing The Dough Together
Now use a dry spoon to make a well in the middle of the flour mixture. Dig out the center of the flour until you can see the bottom of the bowl. Now add the 2 eggs and an egg white, the yeast/water mixture, and 1/4 cup of vegetable oil into the well you just made in the flour. Using your hand, gently squeeze the wet mixture into the flour mixture until everything is incorporated into a dough.
Step Five: Kneading The Dough & Letting It Rise
At this point, get out a cutting board and throw about a tablespoon of flour across the surface. Then grab the dough and place it on the cutting board. Then you must knead it for 10-15 minutes. Here is a video showing you how to knead dough:
"How To Knead Dough"
You can tell the dough has been kneaded sufficiently when you poke your finger into it and the indentation stays there.
Next, place the dough on a greased cookie sheet. To grease a cookie sheet, take a paper towel and dip it into shortening or butter. Using the paper towel, smear the shortening or butter over the surface of a cookie sheet, making sure to cover all of it. Place the dough onto the greased cookie sheet and cover it with a damp towel. Now it is time to let the dough rest and rise. It is best to let it rise in a place that is around 85 degrees. I let mine rise sitting on the stove over a preheating oven. It will take from 60-90 minutes for the dough to rise to 1 1/2 times its original size.
Step Six: Shaping The Dough Into O's
Once this occurs, remove the towel and divide the dough into 12 equal portions. You can simply estimate. My method was to divide the dough in half, then in half again, and then each of those halves into three parts.
Take each piece of dough and roll it into a ball with your palms. Then, stick your finger through the middle, and swing it around on your finger to form a bagel shape. Here is a video to assist you with that:
Shape Cinnamon Raisin Bagels
Place each bagel onto another greased cookie sheet, or simply rinse off and re-grease the cookie sheet you used to let the dough rise. Cover the bagels with a damp towel and let them rise for another 20 minutes.
Step Seven: Boiling The Bagels
Boil a wide and medium deep pan of water with 1 tablespoon of sugar added. While the water is heating, preheat the oven to 450F. Once the water is boiling, use a slotted spoon to lower each bagel into the boiling water. Boil for 1 minute 30 seconds and then use the slotted spoon to tip and flip each bagel so that the other side can be boiled for another 1 minute and 30 seconds. Remove each bagel from the boiling water and place it on either a wire rack or a cookie sheet to drain.
Step Eight: Baking The Bagels
Once all of the bagels have been boiled and drained, place them together on a greased cookie sheet and bake for around 15 minutes. You want the surface of them to be golden brown. Take the cookie sheet out of the oven and turn the oven off. Let the bagels cool to room temperature before trying to remove them from the cookie sheet. Congratulations! You have just made your own tasty homemade bagels! Store in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator for the longest shelf life!