Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Daring Bakers Monthly Challenge - Bagels

Daring Bakers Blue Logo
Originally uploaded by watchjennybake.
The Daring Bakers have struck again! This month the challenge was bagels - not the kind you would get from the grocery store, which is just circle shaped bread, but the authentic Jewish bakery kind, chewy and malty.

The recipe for Real Honest Jewish Purist's Bagels can be found by clicking here. It's too long to post here.

This was my first bagel endeavor, never attempted before because I thought the process would be too long and complicated - what? Boil bread? Weird. So I felt I had to block a bunch of time out to make them. I was surprised by how quick the process took in the end.

First, the ingredients.
Strange Ingredients for Bagels
Yeast is pretty ordinary, but the amount used was more than I am accustomed to (although I don't often bake bread, so what do I know). Barley malt syrup was much harder to find, and in fact was only one place in my town of 80,000. The jar says you can substitute it for molasses in any recipe, which I'll have to do with the rest now that I'm done with the challenge.

The first step that struck me as different than other baking is the amount of time the yeast soaks at the beginning - ten minutes.
Yeast starting to feed
It soaks into the water and honey, and after ten minutes is already a growing, living organism. Bread flour gets mixed in gradually by hand, in diminishing amounts, allowing for the absorption of the moisture. I don't think I added as much as I could the first time around, and this is one of the contributors to my breadier bagels.

I know some people are afraid to knead dough, but that is my favorite step in the process. I feel my stress leaving and my blood pressure lowering, and just feel great afterwards. I also think it teaches you a lot about what dough should feel like, helps you know when it is ready to rise, etc.

Here is the dough after kneading:
Unproofed dough

And here it is just 30 minutes later. Luckily I had put the malt syrup water on to boil right at the beginning of that time, because by the time it was simmering, the dough was ready to be punched down.
Dough after rising

The next step is to divide the dough and form the bagels. There are two methods - one where you handmake a disc and punch a whole in the middle with your thumb, and the other where you form a rope and push the ends together.
Here you see both. The bagels closest to the camera are the disc-punch method, and the bagels farther away were ropes first. I see pros and cons to both methods - the disc-punch method makes a more uniform bagel, but unless you boil them quickly they might rise too much and the hole gets too small. In the rope method, the dough is a better texture because of extra handling, but I had a hard time keeping them from coming apart in the water.

Ah, the water. This was the part I was most nervous about. The bagels are supposed to sink first, and then float, but every single bagel in my first batch was a floater. They turn blobby and fatty and look outrageously disgusting, but I decided to tough it out and try baking them even after they looked like this.
Bagels boiling

After they are drained on a kitchen towel, they can be baked plain or covered with toppings. I did half and half, and here is the plain:
Plain bagels

You might notice that they do decrease in size in the oven. They actually turned a little flat on me, which was amazing considering the obvious aggression of the yeast. Here is a pic of the poppy seed and sesame seed bagels:
Plain bagels with toppings
I really liked the flavor of the sesame seed bagels, I have to say.

Over all, I feel my first batch wasn't quite there. They were a little bready and were just huge. Half of them molded before we ate or froze them, unfortunately.

A few weeks later, I decided to try making flavored bagels, and to see if I could improve on the texture. I made a half batch this time. I had cheddar cheese in the fridge and parsley, so that's what I used..... I tend to be a "what's in the fridge" type cook. :)

My goal was to add all of the flour to try to increase their density, but on this particular day the dough would just not accept it. I punched it and forced it but only got 3/4 of the flour into the dough. The same thing happened with the parsley and cheese - not all that I wanted in there made it in.
Side view

I decided based on some feedback from other Daring Bakers to try the rope method with all of them, to try to really punch out some of the air. I was so rough with them, or so I thought, but the bread dough is really resilient.
Cheddar Parsley Bagels

Another thing I decided to do was turn the water up a little more. The directions are a little confusing, because they say the water should be barely moving. But in my first batch I wasn't convinced the water was hot enough. So I turned it up to where I could see more action under the surface, but only to the bagels demise, I think. I ended up with croissant-shaped bagels, which my household now refers to as "croiggels." This particular picture is a croiggel after it has been boiled but before being baked.

So the finished product for this batch was a little more uniform, a little denser, and had a hint of cheese flavor.
Finished product - cheddar parsley bagel

I gave most of these away to co-workers, who said they enjoyed them, which makes me wonder if I might just not be a fan of "authentic" bagels. I guess it happens.

To read more about what the other Daring Bakers did, follow the many links on the side of my blog.

Categories: Bagels, Bread, Daring Bakers, Yeast


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Oh Hooray Jenny! Congratulations on the bagels!
They look as individual as mine! All of mine were floaters as well. But they did taste good and that's the final word.

breadchick said...

Great job on your bagels. Both batches look fantastic!! That was a lot of yeast wasn't it!!!

Jenny said...

Great job on the bagels!
And so you know, I've seen cheese flavored croigals in bagel shops!

Helene said...

Next time, oh yes they will be a next time..I will reduce the yeast in half and see what I get.
To answer your question, our favorites were the bacon, sesme, poppy and coarse sugar bagels.
I love your second batch.

Lis said...

Croiggels!! I love it! And how true! heheee

Personally, I think your bagels turned out very nice - I especially like the nooks and crannies - they add to the crunchiness outside and the warm chewiness inside.. YUM!

A job well done, honey!

Sara said...

I forgot to mention it in my post, but I got scared too when I put the bagels in to boil - they looked hideous. I would like to try the malt syrup one time.

Elle said...

You should market croiggels. That is one cute variation on a bagel. The cheese flavored bagel looks totally yum too.

Anonymous said...

Great job on the bagels, Jenny!

Meeta K. Wolff said...

These really do look unique (in a good way). Well done Jenny on a great challenge!

Peabody said...

Well done. Your bagels are lovely.

Alpineberry Mary said...

I like the croiggel photo. And I was wondering what to do with my malt syrup now. I didn't know it could used in place of molasses. Thanks for that tip.

Karen Baking Soda said...

Clap clap for doing this challenge twice, I wish we had the time to do that! On the water, we had a real rolling boil going on, I still haven't figured out what to do.

Cheryl said...

Fantastic job. I love the pictures of all the steps and how you tried it a second time making some changes.

Sylvia said...

Very nice bagel recipe, I will try ...I only made bagle just one time ...and I think the recipe that I made wasn't the real one.Yhanks for sharing

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Great that you did it twice. I wasn't so brave. I love your pics and that your household called them croiggels.

Glenna said...

They look great to me! Congrats on going to the work of the second batch and trying the cheese. Great idea and I bet they were delicious!

KJ said...

I love the croigels. I would love to try cheese flavour. I wish I had been more adventurous.

Patricia Scarpin said...

I think that your bagels are terrific, Jenny!
And croiggels made me laugh really hard. :)

Kelly-Jane said...

Well done Jenny, doing two batches - real dedication! Your bagels look lovely. :)

Anonymous said...

Great work! You are an inspiration to me. :)
Thanks for sharing your experience.

Anonymous said...

Great job! Your bagels look super tasty!