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Friday, March 4, 2016

Recipe: Bagels

Poppy Seed Bagel

Recipe: Bagels



I've waxed philosophical about Bagels not once but twice before! What's left to say aside from finally posting a recipe?

Bagels are one of my go-to comfort foods. They actually beat out French Fries and Pizza (sorry, Pizza!) As a result, being able to bake up a fresh dozen and curl up happily on the couch with these carbo bombs is a little piece of culinary heaven.

One thing worth highlighting about Bagels is the somewhat unique cooking process. They are cooked in two stages. The first stage is in boiling water, which sets that exterior crust and creates that characteristic chewy texture. The second stage is in the ovens where that chewy crust gets its golden brown finish. If a Bagel isn't boiled before it's baked, then it's not a Bagel.

So roll up your sleeves, stock up on Cream Cheese, and enjoy!


For some additional tips on baking Bread, be sure to check out these helpful illustrations!

Salt Bagel
Bagel Dough is extremely simple. It's a Straight Mix - no starters or preferment or endless series of resting periods required! All of the dry and wet ingredients are combined at one time, first mixed slowly until a rough dough comes together and then kneaded smooth until the gluten structure develops, which takes no more than 10 minutes.

Some recipes recommend following the Autolyse Method whereby all of the ingredients (except for the salt and oil... and sometimes even the Yeast) are combined and rested for 15 - 30 minutes. Autolyse is a way to hydrate a dough and begin developing a gluten structure without subjecting the dough to oxidation through over-mixing. Oxidation can result in an arguably blander, whiter bread. After the resting period, the oil and salt are added to the dough and it is then kneaded smooth - a process that should not take as long as it would have otherwise.

Following the Autolyse Method for Bagels certainly won't hurt the final product, but it isn't necessary. To address the flavor issue, these Bagels are rested in the refrigerator overnight before they are baked. The slow, cold fermentation process helps develop flavor. The overnight resting period is also nice if you want to have the freshest Bagels in the morning. The Bagels will only need a quick boil and bake before breakfast - much easier than starting to mix the dough at 4am!

Portioned Balls of Dough for Bagels
Bagels are made with Bread flour, which has a high protein content. The high protein content helps the gluten structure develop quickly. The Bagel Dough is ready when it passes the "window test" (i.e. a piece of dough stretched gently between your fingers does not tear but rather forms a "window" or thin pane).

Once the Bagel Dough is sufficiently kneaded, it is immediately portioned and formed into Bagels - there is no bulk proof. That may sound crazy, but Bagels have an extremely tight crumb. The Bagel Dough will rise sufficiently as you work to form the Bagels, as the Bagels temper following an overnight resting period and through "oven spring", when the Yeast expel their final gasps of carbon dioxide before perishing in the heat of the oven.

Begin by dividing the Bagel Dough into 12 equal portions (125g or ~ 4 oz each) and form them into tight balls. Then, working one at a time, roll each ball of Bagel Dough into a log approximately 8" long with tapered ends. Wrap the log around your hand with the tapered ends overlapping. Squeeze the tapered ends together and then gently roll the ends under your palm until they are smoothly joined, forming a perfect ring.

Unbaked Formed Bagels
Place the formed Bagels on a parchment lined sheet tray wrapped in plastic wrap, then chill the Bagels overnight (at least 12 hours) in the refrigerator. The chilled fermentation period is key to developing flavor. The Bagels can be refrigerated for up to 48 hours before boiling and baking.

At this point, the formed but unbaked Bagels can be frozen for up to a month for future baking. Freeze the Bagels on a sheet tray and then transfer them to airtight plastic freezer bags for convenient storage. The frozen Bagels will bake just as well as those refrigerated overnight. They will simply take a bit longer to temper to room temperature before they can be boiled and baked.

Poaching Bagels
The boiling process is where things get fun. A unique technique shared with Pretzel making, boiling is the key to forming a Bagel's chewy exterior. 

The Bagels are boiled in a Poaching Liquid of Water, Malt, Sugar and Salt (Pretzels are boiled in a solution containing Lye or Baking Soda, a highly alkaline mixture that produces the signature deep brown color). As the Bagels boil, the dough at the exterior thickens. The longer the Bagels boil, the thicker (and chewier) the outer layer becomes. A thicker exterior will also prevent the Bagels from rising as much when they are baked, resulting in an even denser crumb.

I like a chewy Bagel, so I recommend 90 seconds in the Poaching Liquid - 60 seconds on one side and then flipped for 30 seconds on the other side.

Bagel Toppings
What's a Bagel without toppings? Well, a Plain Bagel, I guess. 

Some Bagel toppings are as iconic as Bagels themselves - Sesame Seeds, Poppy Seeds, Kosher Salt. To make sure that they adhere to the Bagels, apply any toppings immediately after removing the Bagels from the Poaching Liquid while the exterior is somewhat sticky.

A pinch of Salt is always recommended to enhance the flavor. And while Poppy Seeds and Sesame Seeds are traditional, virtually anything is fair game. However, be aware that the toppings must be able to withstand a 450 degrees Fahrenheit (232 degrees Celsius) oven for 20 minutes. Poppy Seeds are up to the challenge, but a coating of Cinnamon and Sugar won't make it. That Sugar will caramelize and burn well before the Bagels are done baking.

Assorted Varieties of Freshly Baked Bagels
Once boiled, the Bagels are then baked immediately. Like all bread, the Bagels will rise somewhat in reaction to the heat of the oven (i.e. "oven spring"). The amount of oven spring will primarily be a function of how long the Bagels were boiled and how dense the exterior has become.

The Bagels are first baked for 10 minutes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit (232 degrees Celsius). The sheet tray is then rotated and the Bagels are baked at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celsius) for an additional 5 - 10 minutes, or until the Bagels have a deep golden brown exterior and register an internal temperature  of approximately 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93 degrees Celsius).

Bagel with Cream Cheese
While it's tempting to indulge as soon as they're done baking, allow the Bagels to cool for approximately 30 minutes. They will still be plenty warm and delicious with a good schmear...

Bagel with Melted Cheese
... or with mounds of melted Cheese.

Sesame Seed Bagel
Lean breads such as Bagels are best served the day they are made. They should be stored wrapped in paper at room temperature.

The formed, unboiled and unbaked bagels can be frozen for up to a month. Freeze the Bagels on a sheet tray and then transfer them to airtight plastic freezer bags to save space. Allow the frozen Bagels to temper on a parchment lined sheet tray before poaching and baking.

The baked Bagels can also be frozen for up to a month. Bread that has been frozen is best served warmed or toasted. Before freezing, allow the Bagels to cool completely and then seal them in an airtight plastic freezer bag. Allow the Bagels to temper to room temperature while still in the freezer bag. The Bagels are then best served toasted or when heated in a 350 degree Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius) oven until warmed through - approximately 5 minutes. 





- The Recipe -




Bagels:


Yield: 12 Bagels

This recipe has been adapted from a recipe covered in the Professional Pastry Arts Program at the International Culinary Center with significant changes made to the methodology.


Ingredients:

Bagel Dough:
  • Bread Flour: 910g (7 Cups)
  • Sugar: 50g (0.25 Cup)
  • Malt Powder, Diastatic*:  45g (0.25 Cup)
  • Salt: 18g (1 Tbls)
  • Active Dry Yeast*: 8g
  • Water, lukewarm: 480g (2 Cups)
  • Vegetable Oil or Olive Oil: 30g (2 Tbls)
  • Toppings (e.g. Poppy Seeds, Sesame Seeds, etc.): to taste

Poaching Liquid:
  • Water: 1,920g (2 Quarts)
  • Malt Powder: 45g (0.25 Cup)
  • Salt: 18g (1 Tbls)

* Note on ingredients
  • Diastatic Malt Powder contains active enzymes which help breakdown the Sugar and Starches in the Bagel Dough. Non-Diastatic Malt Powder has no active enzymes and is used just for the Malt flavor. Diastatic Malt Powder may not be available at your grocery store; however, it is easy to find on Amazon and can be purchased from King Arthur Flour on their website.
  • If using Fresh Yeast, use twice as much of the recipe weight (16g).




Directions:

1. Place all of the dry ingredients (Bread Flour, Sugar, Malt Powder, Salt and Active Dry Yeast) in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix the ingredients on low speed until they are well combined. Stop the mixer and pour in the Water and Oil. Mix the ingredients on low speed until they come together as a rough ball of dough - approximately 2 minutes.

2. Knead the Bagel Dough on medium speed until it is smooth and the gluten structure is well developed - approximately 10 minutes.

Chef's Note: The gluten structure is well-developed when the Bagel Dough passes the "window test" (i.e. a piece of dough gently stretched between your fingers does not tear but rather forms a "window" or thin pane).

3. Remove the Bagel Dough from the mixer bowl and place it on a clean and dry work surface. Portion the Bagel Dough into 12 pieces weighing approximately 125g (~4 oz) and roll each piece into a ball.

Working one piece of dough at a time, shape each ball into a log or bâtard. Roll each log until it is approximately 8" long with tapered ends. Wrap the log around your hand with the tapered ends overlapping. Squeeze the tapered ends together and then gently roll the ends under your palm until they are smoothly joined, forming a perfect ring.

4. Place each formed Bagel on a parchment lined sheet tray. Wrap the sheet tray with plastic wrap and place the Bagels in the refrigerator overnight to chill and rest (at least 12 hours).

Chef's Note: The formed Bagels can be refrigerated for up to 48 hours before boiling and baking. They can also be frozen for up to a month at this stage.

5. When the Bagels have chilled and rested, remove the sheet tray from the refrigerator and allow the Bagels to temper to room temperature while still wrapped. As the Bagels temper, preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (232 degrees Celsius). Also prepare the Poaching Liquid by combining the Water, Malt Powder and Salt in a large pot and bringing it to a boil.

Chef's Note: Do not allow the Bagels to become too warm and over-proof. They should temper just long enough to remove the chill from the refrigerator - approximately 20 to 30 minutes.

6. Once the Bagels have tempered, the Poaching Liquid is boiling and the oven is at temperature, boil the Bagels in the Poaching Liquid. Boil the Bagels for one minute and then flip them over to boil for an additional 30 seconds. Do not overcrowd the pot. There should be enough room for each Bagel to move freely. If necessary, work in batches.

Place the boiled Bagels on a wire cooling rack so that any excess water can drain. While the boiled Bagels are still damp, cover them with toppings so that the toppings stick.

Chef's Note: The longer the Bagels are boiled, the thicker and chewier the outer crust will be after baking.

7. Transfer the boiled Bagels to a parchment lined sheet tray and place them in the oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celsius) and rotate the sheet tray. Bake the Bagels for an additional 5-10 minutes or until the Bagels are deep golden brown in color and register an internal temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93 degrees Celsius).


Storage:
- Lean breads such as Bagels are best served the day they are made. They should be stored wrapped in paper at room temperature. 
- The formed, unboiled and unbaked bagels can be frozen for up to a month. Freeze the Bagels on a sheet tray and then transfer them to airtight plastic freezer bags to save space. Allow the frozen Bagels to temper on a parchment lined sheet tray before poaching and baking,
- The baked Bagels can also be frozen for up to a month. Bread that has been frozen is best served warmed or toasted. Before freezing, allow the Bagels to cool completely and then seal them in an airtight plastic freezer bag. Allow the Bagels to temper to room temperature while still in the freezer bag. The Bagels are then best served toasted or when heated in a 350 degree Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius) oven until warmed through - approximately 5 minutes. 


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