I recently spent a cozy afternoon with Stephanie, making bagels in the comfort of her new home. We spent time yeasting, kneading, rolling, boiling, and baking; walking around Mount Pleasant and Trout Lake, snagging fresh herbs from gardens we passed; sprinkling rosemary, sea salt, thyme, and doukah; and escaping the cold outside to swelter by a toasty oven.
I had never made bagels before, but Steph has been making loaves galore like a gosh darned bread boss. We tracked down a recipe from the Sophisticated Gourmet and hunkered down, inside from the blistering streets lined with multicoloured leaves. Next time we might try all-purpose rather than bread flour. I’m also hunting down a recipe for beer-based bagels, for a little yeasty twist. (Check out these rad Philly bagels!)
- 2 tsp. active dry yeast
- One and 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
- One and 1/4 cups warm water
- Three and 1/2 cups of flour (bread flour, or all-purpose flour)
- One and 1/2 tsp. salt
In a small bowl, combine yeast, sugar, and a 1/2 cup of warm water. Do not stir yet! You’re going to let this combo sit for about five minutes, while you grab a big bowl to mix flour and salt. Create a well in this dry mix, so you have a spot to pour the liquid yeast mixture into.
After five minutes, stir the yeast-sugar-water, then pour into that well you’ve just made. Add in the remaining warm water. Stir with a fork, or dive right in and start mixing with your hands — you’ll have to knead it anyways! We had to pour in additional water a little at a time, so don’t be afraid to pour in more liquid if your dough’s looking dry! You’ll want a moist (though not watery) dough. Flip the dough onto the table to knead a bit more. Oil your bowl and the top of your dough when you pop it back in.
Leave your dough in your bowl, and cover with a towel. It’s time for your dough to rise.
Set your timer for one hour, and think about what toppings you’ll want to use. Steph and I used rosemary (thank you, neighbourhood garden!) and sea salt, thyme, and a wee sprinkling of Steph’s doukah. A few other options are seeds (think poppy or sesame seeds), garlic or onion, and cheese. Try a jalapeño cheddar, if you want to get spicy, or raisin and cinnamon if you’re feelin’ sweet.
After an hour, the dough will have puffed up. It’s ready for a good kneading. Get out some aggression, or get a good arm workout on that dough. I’m no bread expert, but kneading seems to be a very important step, so make sure you give it the time and elbow grease it requires.
(Side note: this is a good opportunity to start preheating your oven to 425F, and to get a large pot of water to boil. You’ll be needing these soon!)
Split up your dough into eight, and roll into lil’ baseball-sized pieces. They don’t have to be perfectly smooth, as evidenced by my “rustic” bagels below.
Stab your finger into the middle of your dough balls, and begin to shape into lil’ bagels. We didn’t really know what technique to use on these, so just see what works for you.
Now, you’re ready to boil your bagels! That pot of boiling water? Reduce it to a simmer. Pop your bagels in, and set a timer for one minute; don’t let them crowd each other though, it’s better to do them in batches. When the timer goes off, use a slotted spoon to flip each bagel, and set your timer for another minute. Timer goes off, you slip the bagels out of the pot of water. Repeat until each of your bagels have had a dip in the water.
Finally, you’re ready to bake your bagels! Oil a baking pan well, and toss your bagels on. Sprinkle with toppings. Put the pan into the preheated oven, and set a timer for 20 minutes. We had to bake our bagels for about twice as long because we’re still getting used to Steph’s new oven. You’ll know these guys are done once they’re a beautiful, crisp golden brown.
Enjoy them toasted, with a healthy slathering of butter on top.