Bagels for breakfast: Yes, you really can make them at home!

Fran Sun / Photo

Fran Sun
RUTLAND BITES

For all my talk about getting away from breakfast, I’m afraid we’re back again, folks. What can I say? I just love baked goods, and a lot of those are breakfast foods.

There’s something that seems terribly inauthentic about an Australian writing a bagel column, isn’t there? It’s almost disrespectful. But it’s what I’ve been making, and I’ve learned a thing or two along the way, so I thought I’d share them with you.

Whenever I tell people that I have been making bagels, their eyes go wide and they say “MAKING bagels?” which surprises me, because, though it’s time consuming, it’s not terribly hard. The time is mostly proving the dough, as long as you have a KitchenAid. If you don’t, I hope you very much enjoy kneading dough. I’m told it’s good exercise! I suppose people are also surprised because bagels are fairly easy to come by. But I like to make them at home; it’s nice to have them really fresh and still warm from the oven.

Full disclosure: the bagels I’ve been making have been more of a brunch or lunch item. To have them for breakfast, I’d have to be up far earlier than I would ever wish to be, particularly since my baby is sleeping a little better now (knock on wood). I’ve been leaving them as welcome gifts for my Airbnb guests too, and they’ve been widely enjoyed, as far as the empty containers left behind can say, anyway!

A couple of tips. A lot of recipes ask you to have something called “non-diastatic malt powder,” but I didn’t want to buy it, so I used the suggested alternative of brown sugar, and that’s what I’ll include in my recipe. If you have that ingredient, go for it! Everything else is stuff you should have on hand if you are a frequent baker. I also did not use bread flour, though you could if you wanted, and the King Arthur Flour recipe recommends it.

I like to place my flour in the KitchenAid bowl, then put the yeast on one side and the salt on the other, with the sugar on the same side as the yeast. You see, salt retards yeast activity, and you really want that yeast nice and active, so putting them on opposite sides of the bowl lets the yeast work a bit harder before getting slowed down by the salt. That’s a little trick I learned from Paul Hollywood on the Great British Bake Off.

If you really want bagels as close to immediately as possible, then there are fast “fake” bagel recipes out there too that I think are quite good. The one I use is 1 cup self-raising flour, 1 cup greek yogurt, mix, knead for a minute or so, break into eight parts, roll out into a tube, then join, egg wash, sprinkle toppings, bake 25 mins. at 375F.

Bagels

(adapted from King Arthur Flour recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cups lukewarm water

Water bath:

  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Place flour into bowl of KitchenAid, then place yeast and sugar on one side and salt on the other. Add water and knead on medium for at least 10 minutes. If the dough is still a little bit sticky, it’s probably worth adding a little more flour (this may be a difference between bread flour and plain flour). If the dough is “thwapping” the sides of the bowl and not sticking to the bottom, that’s perfect. It should be nice and stiff when you take it out of the bowl too; it shouldn’t sink down too much. Place it in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a towel, and leave it in a draft-free spot to rise for between 1 and 1 ½ hours.

Take the dough out of the bowl and place it onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide as evenly as possible into eight smooth balls of dough. I use my kitchen scale for this, to avoid ending up with differently sized bagels that are not evenly cooked). Place the balls of dough onto a large baking tray spaced evenly apart, allowing room for expansion, then cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave for 30 minutes. They’ll puff up a little bit.

In the meantime, get your water bath together. Place the water and sugars in a large, wide-based saucepan. Get your oven preheating to 425F. Bring the water to a gentle simmer.

Poke a hole in each ball of dough with your finger, then twirl it around your finger until the hole is 1 ½ – 2 inches wide. Any smaller than that and the middle won’t bake properly. When you have four done, pop them in the water for 2 minutes while you twirl the other four, then flip them over with a slotted spoon or small strainer and cook them for another minute. Take them out, put them back on the baking tray, and do the same with the other four.

Give them an egg wash, sprinkle your desired toppings (you can use the same “everything” recipe contained in my biscuits column from last month) and pop them in the oven for 25 minutes or until they’re as browned as you like.

Leave them to cool for 10 minutes before cutting, if you can possibly manage the wait!

Fran Sun

Fran is a new stay at home mom who moved to Rutland from Australia in 2015.

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