Some people fear it.
If you’ve had less-than-stellar results with breads in the past, know that it’s probably a result of old and long-dead bargain yeast than anything you did to kill it. So don’t blame yourself; instead, pick up some new yeast and try, try again.
This month we tackle one of the most elusive yeasted breads (at least for those of us outside of New York): the bagel. And really the biggest difference between bagels and other breads is the boiling. Yes, bagels are boiled before they are baked. It’s what gives them that distinctive chewy texture that you don’t get in, say, a baguette.
Whether you toast them with butter, stack them high with meat and cheese, or (my personal favorite) smother them with cream cheese and smokey lox, a good bagel is worth the effort (and I don’t know about you, but knowing that I can make bagels quicker than I could fly to New York, without the need for any dramamine? I’d call that a challenge worth my time).
- Yeast. Make sure it’s fresh. You’ll save yourself a good deal of time trying to revive dead yeast. Also be sure you follow your recipe: instant yeast and active dry yeast are not the same thing. King Arthur Flour has a great primer on all things yeast. I’ve also heard good things about the dried yeasts they sell on their site (and may be ordering some myself!)
- Flour. Again, follow your recipe, but most bagel recipes call for high-gluten or bread flour. The extra protein in bread flour means extra gluten, which when shaped and boiled and baked will make for the perfect chewy bagel.
- Malt. Some recipes also call for barley malt syrup or non-diastatic malt powder (check online or in health food or brewing supply stores for these ingredients). Molasses and even honey can be used in its place.
- Proof. Being that it’s the middle of the summer I don’t think finding a ‘warm’ spot to let the dough proof is going to be a problem for any of us. However, if your kitchen is feeling rather chilly, turn on your oven for 30 seconds, then TURN IT OFF. Place your dough inside the oven and close the door. The residual heat from the oven should create the perfect environment for your dough to reach its fullest potential.
- Flavors and Toppings. The biggest challenge here might be deciding what KIND of bagels you want to make (poppy and sesame seed is only the beginning), but also what to DO with them once they’re boiled and baked.
Resources & Recipes:
- Peter Reinhart‘s book The Bread Baker’s Apprentice might be the end-all resource for everything yeast. He appears to have two different bagel recipes floating around, similar but subtly different: the version from the aforementioned book was posted at Smitten Kitchen a few years back, but I’ve also found a smaller-scale version over at Epicurious.
- More helpful information from Epicurious: Bagel Myths and Ingredients.
- This recipe from Food & Wine calls for a fermentation starter, or Poolish, prepared the night before. I’d try this one just to say poolish again.
- Short on time? Try this version from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. No knead, no problem.
If you’re up for the challenge, make a batch of homemade bagels by Sunday, July 21st. Send me a photo of your results to be included in the roundup. This challenge is simply about getting in the kitchen and challenging yourself to make something new; you aren’t required to have a blog to participate, nor are you required to post about it if you do. However, if you do have a blog and post about the challenge, you are more than welcome to use the above graphic if you’d like to spread the word!
I hope you’re ready to RISE to the challenge!
What a find! Thanks for posting this; I’m under doctor’s orders – stay off your feet! – for 4 weeks … so no quick runs to Montreal or NYC for bagels or even to the local supermarket for that matter…. but I can toddle into the kitchen and with help will spend the afternoon crafting these.
i wish i had known about this challenge before – i would love participate :)
Thanks for inspiring a great breakfast, Lindsay.
I should jump in on this challenge, for some reason I still have this small fear of using yeast. Home made bagels sounds wonderful :)
I’m definitely going to give these a try. It’s probably time to replace my yeast though, I’ve got 3 different kinds of jars that have been hanging out in the fridge for probably over a year now.
Yay for bagels!!! that will be a challenge!
as a native new yorker, i never bothered making my own bagels. instead i would just walk down the street and buy the perfect one, crunchy (with bite) on the outside and soft on the inside. but about 2 years ago we relocated to denver, colorado…which has the best green chili anywhere in the country, but not necessarily the best bagels i’ve ever eaten. i love and welcome this bagel challenge!
Good challenge! I really like cheese bagels and salt bagels with lots of cream cheese, or plain bagels with Nutella. I can’t wait to see all the results and maybe give it a go myself.
YAY! I love making bagels!
What a great challenge! I’ve been meaning to give making bagels a try for quite some time now, so this is the perfect chance!
Thanks for such a great idea!
I make bagels, at least once a week and when I give some away, people say I’ve ruined them from ever buying a bagel again. Great challenge, XOXO
I have made bagels before and they were surprisingly easy! Can’t wait to see what you have done with yours :)
Did you mean to say turn on your oven for 30 minutes for proofing. I don’t think 30 seconds would heat my oven at all. Just checking. Thanks
Nope, 30 seconds. You don’t want to bake the dough, just give it a slightly-warmer-than-room-temperature spot in which to rise. You can also just turn on your oven light, which usually generates enough heat also.
Yes Linds! I am definitely going to try this one. I’ve made bagels before but always the “quick” kind- I’m excited to try your method. xo
I have got to saddle up and try this! Great challenge, Lindsay!
This will be a fun challenge! Bagels have been on my “to do” list so I’m in!
I might join in on this one – Hubby asked me the other day if I had a bagel recipe and I told him bagels were on my “cooking bucket list.”
I love yeasted breads and bagels so I’m so in for this challenge!
I have attempted bagels once before so I think I will try to make this my first challenge!!!
I used to make bagels regularly…my husband ate them too fast for the work I put in. I used the Fleischmann’s yeast recipe. Good and easy…and approved by a New Yorker who has eaten plenty of excellent bagels.
Ooh, this sounds like a perfect challenge for me. I’m in!
I’m totally in for this!!! I’ve been eyeing some bagel recipes to try out and try to get over my yeast challenge so this is right up my alley!!
Yay! I want to do this! I have wanted to make homemade bagels for awhile and this will help light a fire :)
Okay, you put me at ease, challenge accepted!
I love homemade bagels! What a fun challenge!
Such a good challenge, excited to try and take part if I can!