My Best Bagels with Step by Step Photos Part 1

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This is the first in a series of 5 by monthly postings on my favorite breads complete with step by step photos. The photos will come at the end of the recipe and as there are so many, I will be dividing them into two postings, one immediately following the other, to make downloading faster and easier. Levy's Bagels

If you've never had a homemade bagel you are in for a great surprise. Most commercial bagels lack the delicious complexity of flavor and the pleasant degree of chewiness. The chewiness is a result of using high gluten flour but as this is not readily available in supermarkets I decided to make my own by using Gold Medal Better for Bread flour and adding gluten. It worked perfectly. The dough is quick to make and then can stored overnight before shaping, making it an ideal weekend project. Authentic bagels need to be boiled before baking. The shaping, boiling, and baking are somewhat time consuming, therefore it behooves you to make a batch of an adequate size and power. This is only possible with a heavy duty mixer and the Ankarsrum is ideal.

Bagels are very much a part of my heritage. My first bread memory and my first teething ring are one and the same. My mother, who was a dentist, considered the bagel an ideal natural teething ring because of its firm yet forgiving texture. But it was my father who brought us freshly-baked bagels on a string every Friday afternoon after he made his weekly delivery of bagel peels. In the 1940's after the war and the early 1950's, when times were hard, my father Robert Levy, a skilled cabinet maker, turned to bagel peel production and laid claim to the exclusive bagel peel business in the greater New York area which included the five boroughs and all of New Jersey. This did not make us rich, but we had all the bagels we could eat. A peel is a flat wooden pallet with a long pole as a handle, designed for transferring bread to and from the oven in commercial bread bakeries. Peels used for bagels are only slightly wider than the bagel itself.

In traditional bagel production, the bagels, after being boiled in salted water, are placed on a wooden board and set in the oven, often as deep as 20 feet. When the tops of the bagels are firm, a piece of string is run under the bagels to release them and they are inverted onto the hot oven shelf. The peel is used to move them about so that they bake evenly and to remove them from the oven. Making my bagel recipe in a home oven, however, does not require a bagel peel, however, I regret that my father did not save one of his for me to put up in my kitchen as decoration.

Makes: Twelve 4 inch by 1-1/2 inch high bagels, 3.7 ounces/106 grams each

Oven Temperature: 500°F/260°C, then 450°F/230°C

Baking Time : 25 to 35 minutes

Dough

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Combine the Dry Ingredients for the Flour Mixture In the bowl of the stand mixer, whisk together 5-2/3 cups (26 ounces/736 grams) of the flour, the vital wheat gluten, the yeast, malt, sugar, and black pepper.
 

Mix the Dough Add the butter, if using, and water, and with the dough hook, starting on low, mix until all the flour is moistened, about 2 minutes. Add the salt and knead for another minute. Raise the speed to medium-low and knead for 5 minutes. Add all but 2 tablespoons/0.6 ounce/ 16 grams of the remaining flour. Continue kneading for 2 to 3 minutes, until most of the flour is incorporated. The dough should be barely sticky. If necessary, knead in some of the remaining flour by hand. (More flour will make a heavier, chewier bagel which some prefer.) Shape into a smooth ball.

Let the Dough Rise Place the dough into a 4 quart/4 liter dough rising container or bowl that has been lightly coated with cooking spray. Push down the dough and lightly coat the surface with nonstick cooking spray. (The dough should weigh about 51.6 ounces/1,464 grams). Unless putting it in an enclosed area with hot water, cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap. With a piece of tape mark the side of the container at approximately where double the height of the dough should be after rising (3 quarts/3 liters). Let the dough rise in a warm place (ideally at 80°F/27°C) in a proofer or microwave with a glass of very hot water), for 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until it reaches the mark.

Using a spatula or plastic dough scraper that has been lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray, turn the dough onto a lightly floured counter and gently press down on the dough to form a rectangle. Deflate the dough by firmly pushing it down, give it a four-sided stretch and fold. Round the edges and set it back into the container. It will now fill the container to 2 quarts. Lightly coat the surface of the dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover it, and refrigerate it for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight or up to 2 days for the most dimensional flavor. Check the dough after the first hour and if it has risen to 4 quarts use your fist to push it down. Check again after the next hour and repeat the deflating.

Shape the Dough and Let it Rise Set one parchment-lined baking sheet on a counter top near the cooktop. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured counter. Divide it in half. Set one piece back in the container, cover and refrigerate it. Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (4.2 ounces/ 120 grams each). With the smooth side up, tuck under the edges to round each piece into a roughly shaped ball. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to relax for about 10 minutes before shaping.

Shape the Dough Begin by setting a dough ball, smooth-side-down, on a lightly floured counter. Lightly flour the top and use a small rolling pin to flatten it into a disc. Draw up the sides and pinch it together to form a smooth round ball, resembling a head of garlic. Turn over the ball so that the pinched seam is on the bottom. Cup your hand over the dough and move it to an unfloured part of the countertop so that it can grab on slightly. Pressing lightly, rotate the dough to form a smooth round ball. Stick your index finger or the back of a wooden spoon into the center of the ball, all the way through to the bottom to make a hole. Begin by hooking it over your thumb and insert two fingers of your other hand into the hole, to open it up. Then use the fingers of both hands to stretch and rotate the dough to make a hole about 3-1/2 inches in diameter. The dough will resemble a ring and will be about 3/4 inches high. Place each bagel as you shape it on the parchment-lined baking sheet, covering it lightly with plastic wrap. Allow the bagels to rise for 10 to 15 minutes or until they puff slightly to 1 inch high. If using toppings, scatter one-quarter of them on a half sheet pan.

Preheat the Oven Forty-five minutes or longer before baking set an oven rack at the lowest level and place the baking stone or baking sheet on it. Preheat the oven to 500°F/260°C.

Water Bath

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Boil the Bagels Set several paper towels on the countertop near the cooktop. Set a parchment lined baking sheet next to them. If you are using seeds, instead of setting the boiled bagel directly onto a parchment lined baking sheet, first scatter half the seeds evenly over the bottom of the uncoated half sheet pan. (After glazing and coating the top with seeds, transfer the dough rings to the parchment-lined baking sheet.) Fill a large stockpot (about 9 inches by 4 inches high) about half full of water to a boil. Stir in the molasses and baking soda until dissolved. With a skimmer transfer the bagels, one at a time, into the boiling water without crowding them. Do them in batches of 2 to 3 at a time so that they can swim around without touching each other. If slightly under-risen, they may sink at first but then rise to the surface.

Boil for 1 minute on each side, starting with the top side up, and then gently flipping them over with the skimmer. Remove the bagels, shaking off excess water over the stockpot. Slide the bagels onto the paper towels. Use the towels to flip the bagels, top side up onto the parchment lined baking sheet or onto the poppy seed lined baking sheet and lift off the towels. The bagels will look slightly wrinkled at this stage but the surface will smooth out on baking as they expand slightly. They will have puffed up to about 1-1/4 inches and the holes will have closed to about 1 inch. Set the stockpot aside until ready to boil the second batch and when ready, bring the mixture to a boil before sliding the bagels into the water. Start shaping the second batch after the first batch is in the oven.

Glaze

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Glaze and Top the Bagels Whisk together the egg whites and cold water to break up the whites. Press them through a fine mesh strainer and brush each bagel with the glaze. Do not let the glaze drip onto the baking sheet. Brush with a second coat of glaze and, if desired, sprinkle any topping of your choice evenly over the bagels. (Lift each bagel with your hand and, holding it over the pan with the topping, sprinkle the seeds or onions on top. This way you don't have any excess toppings that would burn on the baking sheet.) Set the bagels, evenly spaced, on the parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake the Bagels Set the baking sheet directly on the hot oven stone or baking sheet. Bake 5 minutes. Lower the temperature to 450°F/230°C and continue baking for 10 minutes. Tent them with foil, and for even baking, rotate the baking sheet halfway around. Continue baking for another 12 to 15 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer comes out clean and reads 209° to 212°F/98° to 100°C.)

Cool the Bagels Transfer the bagels to a wire rack and cool completely. Repeat glazing and baking with the second batch. Store The bagels keep well for 1 day at room temperature in a brown paper bag. For longer storage, wrap each in plastic wrap and then in plastic freezer bags and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature.

Notes

Butter, though not traditional, will produce a softer and lighter crumb. My preference is without it.

The barley malt added to the dough contributes flavor and the slightest hint of sweetness.

Baking soda helps to create a golden color to the crust. Molasses contributes extra shine.

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MIXING THE DOUGH

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KNEADING THE DOUGH

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FULLY KNEADED DOUGH

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DOUGH SHAPED INTO A BALL

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DOUGH SET IN RISING CONTAINER

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DOUBLED IN SIZE

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DEFLATING THE DOUGH

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4 CORNER STRETCH AND FIRST FOLD

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4 CORNER STRETCH AND SECOND FOLD

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4 CORNER STRETCH AND THIRD FOLD

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4 CORNER STRETCH AND FOURTH FOLD

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ROUDING THE DOUGH

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THE SECOND RISE

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DOUGH READY TO REFRIGERATE

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REFRIGERATED DOUGH

The Ankarsrum Original is available on this link: Ankarsrum Original AKM 6220 Red Stand Mixer