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Let's Make Bagels

I love bagels ! One of the most versatile and satisfying breads you can make or buy.  I have had a love affair since the very first one I ate...all toasted and yummy, spread with cream cheese and topped with smoked salmon.  I never imagined (way back then) that I would ever be making them myself, in my own kitchen. Because so many bagel shops are a specialty store type place, I automatically thought that they must be complicated. Or take special devices or utensils or machines to bake them in. Nope...turns out they amazingly easy to make in your own kitchen. And once you bake your own, you'll not want the store bought ones ever again.

You can make bagel dough using your stand mixer with a dough hook or your bread machine. I use my trusty old KitchenAid.  The ride got a little bumpy toward the end, but it worked great and saved my old hands. I made plain bagels this time, though often I make sesame seed or onion bagels or my old favorite--everything bagels. I used white whole wheat flour mixed with unbleached flour this time. You can use different kinds of flour, if you want . Whole wheat, spelt, etc.

Ingredients:

• 1 tbsp instant yeast
• 4 cups flour ( I used 3 cups unbleached and 1 cup white whole wheat)
• 2 tsp salt
• 1 tbsp barley malt syrup
• 12 ounces warm water

Directions:

1. Combine these ingredients in the mixer bowl. Turn the machine on to medium low and let it mix well for about 10 minutes. This is a stiff dough, it will try to gallop your mixer across the counter, so keep an eye (and a hand) on it. I made sure the mixer had incorporated all the flour into the dough and then let it run for almost 10 minutes, kneading the bread thoroughly. You want to develop the gluten.

2. When you've finished this, stop the mixer and put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a towel and let it sit for about an hour and a half. The dough will be noticeably puffy, but not necessarily doubled in size. (To use your bread machine, follow the same instructions except place it in the machine on the dough cycle. Complete the cycle after you check it once to make sure it's incorporated all the flour.)

3. The next step here is to prepare a work surface (I use a pastry board or a piece of waxed paper on my counter to keep the cleanup to a minimum) then transfer the dough to a lightly floured or oiled surface. The dough will then be cut into 8 or 12 equal pieces (depending on how big you want your bagels).

4. Roll each piece into a ball, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow it to sit for about 30 minutes. It will puff a little more.

5. While you're waiting, it's time to get the kettle boiling. For this next very important step, you'll need a large dutch oven or soup pot. Fill this pot with hot water and put on the stove to boil.

5. Once it's good and hot, add a tablespoon of the barley malt syrup to the water, stirring well until it dissolves.   When it boils, you can turn it down if it's sooner than half an hour. But keep it simmering !

6. Now - back to the dough...preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

7. Take the balls you have made one at a time and poke a hole in the center. When you have poked through, wiggle your fingers and twirl the dough to stretch the hole until it's about 2 inches across. They will look like this:

bagels

8. Place each bagel on a lightly oiled or parchment lined baking sheet. When they're all done, turn up the heat on your pan of boiling water. Transfer the bagels to the boiling water and depending on their size, do four or six at a time. When the water is boiling nicely again, time the procedure. Cook the bagels for 2 minutes on the first side. Using a large slotted spoon, turn them over in the water and boil for another minute. Then, using your big slotted spoon, take them out one at a time and place them back on the baking sheet. It helps if you have an assistant!

9. Once you have finished all the bagels, place them in your preheated oven and bake them for about 20 to 25 minutes. Or until they're a nice golden brown. I like mine a little on the softer side, as there are only the two of us, so it takes longer to eat a batch of bagels. About 15 minutes into the cooking, you can turn them over if you like. This helps them stay nice and round. I don't always do this, but sometimes I do. When they are done, remove from oven and cool on racks. They will look a lot like this:

bagels

10. If you want to fancy up your bagels, you can mix up an egg white with a tablespoon of water. Brush the top of the bagel with the mixture.

11. Then sprinkle the bagels with sesame or poppy seeds (or any other seed you like), pop into the oven and bake according to directions.

If you like an onion bagel, you can bake the bagels for about 20 minutes, pull them out of the oven, brush with the egg white and water glaze and then sprinkle with dried onion. Put them back in the oven and bake for about 2 minutes, watching them carefully because the onion burns easily. Like cinnamon raisin bagels ? Add 1/2 cup raisins to the last few minutes of the kneading. Before you transfer the dough to your work surface, sprinkle it heavily with cinnamon and sugar. Give the dough a few turns (kneading) and it will pick up the cinnamon mix. After you make the balls, you can roll them in more cinnamon sugar if you are so inclined.

The possibilities are endless, both in the type of bagels you can make and the different things you can top them with. One of my favorites is a lunch time bagel, topped with peanut butter and jalapeno jelly. My husband likes plain old butter and cream cheese. We both like cream cheese and sweet red pepper jelly. Use your imagination...and enjoy those home made bagels !


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