homemade bagels

A couple months ago I found a recipe for “real bagels” in Cooking Light and immediately thought of my sweet hubby and his affinity for everything bagels.  (I hate them; they may have a great savory flavor, but the onion and garlic are just way too strong!)

Obviously, this was a weekend activity, so I pencilled it in for two weekends ago.  Well, that weekend came and went without the making of any bagels, so I was even more determined to cross it off this weekend!

I had intended this to be a pseudo-together project with Andrew; I was, after all, making them mainly for him.  I like a good bagel as much as the next person, but try to limit my intake of simple carbs that come in the form of GIANT breads.  Rule of thumb: go halfsies. NO EXCEPTIONS.

It being a Sunday afternoon, Andrew was all but passing out on the couch when I called to him in need of his photography skills…  (I might have guilted him, a little.)  The truth is, our kitchen right now just isn’t really big enough for two to be working, and I’ll be honest, I like to be the only cook in the kitchen.  It’s my territory.  Hands off!

(Plus, Andrew is a way better picture-taker than I am; with our atrocious lighting situation here in the kitchen and dining room, it’s all I can do to take a decent picture, let alone one that actually shows the real color of my subject.)

I halved the recipe (how in the world would the two of us be able to eat 12 bagels before they got stale?) and put the ingredients into the bowl of my mixer.

The recipe calls for barley malt syrup, which is a natural sweetener found in lots of bread recipes.  It’s similar to thins like agave nectar, brown rice syrup and maple syrup and it is more mild, so it doesn’t raise your blood sugar as quickly as other sweeteners.  I couldn’t find it anywhere in Ohio (it’s the kind of thing you find in the ‘crunchiest’ of natural grocery stores) and had to purchase it when Andrew and I were at King Arthur Flour during the fall of 2010.  I have, however, seen it in the ‘nature’s marketplace’ at Wegmans–hurray!

After a 6-minute go-around in the mixer, you knead the dough by hand for just a minute or two.

(Seriously, how to food bloggers do it??  I would never be able to photograph and work with messy hands; I’m way too much of a neat-freak and OCD about equipment.  Andrew would KILL me if I got food on his camera!  That, and I’d never get anywhere since it would take twice as long to make everything if I was taking pictures, and it already takes me a long time since I’m so fastidious about cleaning as I go and measuring and things.)

After a 30-minute rise, you divide the dough into equal portions…

…and, using your fingers, poke a hole through them and stretch it out a little.  They rise again for a few minutes on a tray while you get your water boiling.

I’m a HUGE King Arthur Flour fan and order WAY too much from them (they have such cool stuff!) and one of the things I got last time was this bag of everything bagel topping.  Andrew was in heaven when we saw it.

Traditional bagels are boiled before being baked, which creates a ‘doughy’ texture, and is what the recipe calls for.  We’ve had bagels in Montreal (which are only baked) and NYC (which are boiled) and you can really tell a good bagel from a mediocre one.  I love Panera as much as the next person, but their bagels are NOTHING compared to a fresh, puffy, boiled bagel from a Jewish hole-in-the-wall place in the city.

Side note: Andrew’s favorite place to get bagels, interestingly enough, is a place called Buck’s Bagels, located just down the road from my parents’ house outside Philadelphia.  I guess the interesting (and sad) part is that my family didn’t really ever frequent the establishment much!  We had no idea such a gem was just a mile away!  I remember my dad going there a couple times, but that was it.  So, so, SO sad.

Side-side note: That is one of my dreams: to be a ‘regular’ somewhere.  I think it stems from such a transient childhood; all I want now is to have a home and be known there and have a routine and be an actual ‘part’ of the community.  (I have to admit, between being involved in the co-op and writing for the paper, I think I’m on my way!)

After a 30-second boil (I wasn’t clear on whether or not you were supposed to flip them or not), you place them on a grate to drain and sprinkle with topping, if desired.

I made four everything and kept two plain, for me.

(BTW, I’m eating half of one of my plain bagels RIGHT NOW for breakfast!)

I joke that Andrew is so picky that I can pull a hot cookie out of the oven for him and he’d refuse it (no lie, but in his defense, he isn’t very big on chocolate-chip); not so with bagels!  It was all he could do to wait until they were cool enough to touch after baking before grabbing one of his everything bagels and chomping it down!

I, of course, wasn’t about to inhale one of mine (we had dinner plans with friends in just a few short hours!), but I wanted to taste my creation so I had a bite of his, with a little butter.  YUM!  Absolutely perfect texture!

I know I’m a little ambitious in the ‘make-everything-from-scratch’ category, but these really are pretty simple.  With their short rise and boil times, you could feasibly make these on a Saturday morning and enjoy hot bagels for breakfast–not something you can say about cinnamon rolls without a TON of prep the night before.

Speaking of making things from scratch…  I hinted at my weekend projects in yesterday morning’s post; be looking for that soon, too!  Also, I’ve done TWO blogs for the co-op recently: kale and grapefruit!  Next up: a promo for an upcoming event and more citrus!  After that, I’m looking forward to non-produce posts, like yogurt-making and baking (it is winter, after all), which will include my banana bread!  Stay tuned!

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