BBA Challenge #3: Bagels

What does one do Friday night but prepare for the next BBA Challenge and pull out your beloved copy of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice?  To try to make myself look less pathetic, I do have a young child so we don’t get out much, and also, starting a BBA bread the night before usually is a five-minute process:  mix up a poolish, let it sit, stick it in the fridge for tomorrow.  The bagels, it turned out, are a little different–almost all the work is done the night before!  (This is what you realize when you don’t entirely read the instructions).  On the other hand, this makes it possible to have freshly baked bagels the next morning without too much effort (read:  without rising ridiculously early) which is a definite perk to this recipe!
I immediately noticed how this recipe was different when I made the sponge–3 cups of flour?  I quickly scanned to the next part of the recipe–how much more was I going to have to add?  The proportion seems to be about 1/4 the total flour, but this time it was more like half. 
After two hours, I did a quick stir of the sponge with my mixer to prep it for its additions:
Sponge

Sponge

Several more cups of flour later, along with brown sugar (I didn’t have malt powder on hand, unsurprisingly), salt, and more yeast.  This recipe teaches you how little liquid you need, as relative to other breads, this hardly seems to have any (and Peter Reinhart says as much in his introduction).  Here’s a photo of the dough right after incorporating the ingredients but before it’s nicely kneaded.

Rough dough--pre-kneading

Rough dough--pre-kneading

 I once again didn’t get the greatest windowpane, but pressed on.  With nearly 8 cups of flour, my kitchenaid motor was really hot, and the bowl was being thrown off kilter over and over, so I ended up standing there to stabilize it (so much for using a mixer to free up your hands!  I think the next time I do this I’d might as well do it by hand).

Windowpane test

Windowpane test

 Here’s the completed dough.  Maybe I didn’t get the ideal windowpane, but it certainly is nice and smooth compared to before!

IMG_9271

After kneading

After kneading

 After kneading, you shape into rolls and rest for 20 minutes (you, and the dough).  I accidentally made 13 rather than 12, but they were plenty big.

Shaped into rolls

Shaped into rolls

 Then you shape into bagels (I used the “punch a hole through the center” method, which was actually pretty easy to do and gave nice results).  Once you do this, you drop a bagel into a bowl of water to be sure  it floats.  Mine floated immediately, but apparently if they do not, you have to allow them to proof a little longer.  I guess if they don’t have enough air (released by the yeast as they eat), they will sink–so this step should, I imagine, essentially prevent a hockey puck-like bagel.

Shaped into bagels

Shaped into bagels

 Into the fridge overnight!  The next morning boil them a minute on each side in boiling water, to which you’ve added some baking soda.  Peter Reinhart says this alkalizing of the water helps provide a little more of an “authentic” bagel crust.  (He says he’s not sure how much it adds, but I figure, it’s so easy to add baking soda, why not).  As I did this somewhat backwards (reading the intro after the recipe) I thought that the baking soda was added to “tone down” the boil a bit so that the bagels wouldn’t be subjected to falling apart in too vigorous a boil.  I came to this (erroneous) conclusion by noticing how much the vigorousness of the boil was brought down after the addition of soda. 

These two photos show how much the bagel puffs up during the boiling:

Beginning of boiling

Beginning of boiling

and done boiling

and done boiling

 Then, you bake them for only about 10 minutes minimum, but longer if you like a really golden crust.  I made the plainest of bagels, and even forgot to dust the parchment paper with cornmeal (and can report that they pulled off the paper just fine!)

Into the oven

Into the oven

 Here’s the finished bagels.  They are so delicious warm!  I ended up freezing the majority (and was happy to read that these bagels freeze well due to the extended proofing overnight in the fridge).  My main failing with these bagels?  Not having cream cheese on hand to enjoy them with!

Finished bagels

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4 thoughts on “BBA Challenge #3: Bagels

  1. Those do look yummy! Perhaps a little peanut butter as well? Oh, wail, little e can’t have peanut butter yet. Fresh baked bagels would be quite lovely, of course.

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