Peter Reinhart is amazing and his books should be on the shelf of anyone who is a confident bread baker or interested in the science of baking bread. I do not own his books yet but that is going to change very soon. I have made bagels before but this weekend I actually had some spare time so I was working hard on trying more methodical recipes. One thing you should be warned about is his breads take a long time. He is a professional baker and baking is a science that will never be clearer than when first reading his recipes. That being said the time taken (sometimes days) is worth it.
I was browsing smittenkitchen and drooling as usual and saw she attempted Peter Reinhart’s Recipe for bagels (the full recipe can be viewed on her site here). I became very inspired and hopeful, here is my bagel story. I really didn’t change much but there was a few things for example I didn’t have malt powder and actual bread flour. I used vital wheat gluten and cut down the rising time. Below I’ll explain my variations but this recipe is solely in ownership of Peter Reinhart. I would encourage you if this is your first go at bagels and you really want to invest the time please follow his very thorough instructions located on the smittenkitchen blog or in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. Yields 12 extremely large, 16 regularly large or 24 miniature bagels.
1 teaspoon instant yeast
4 cups flour + 1tbsp vital wheat gluten ( I like Bob’s Redmill)
2 1/2 cups water, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
3 3/4 cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
2 3/4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons malt powder or 1 tablespoon dark or light malt syrup, honey, or brown sugar (see note below)
1 tablespoon baking soda
Cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting
The book suggests Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, kosher salt, rehydrated dried minced garlic or onions (Deb note: this was what I chose, and found the taste very authentic), or chopped onions that have been tossed in oil (optional)
I had only sesame seeds on hand so I mixed 2 tbsp sesame seeds, 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, 1 tsp garlic powder and a sprinkle or ground rock salt.
1. Day one: (I started this first thing in the morning)To make the sponge, stir the yeast into the flour in a 4-quart mixing bowl. Add the water, whisking or stirring only until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (like pancake batter). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly. It should swell to nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop.
2. To make the dough, in the same mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer), add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir. Then add 3 cups of the flour and all of the salt and malt. Stir (or mix on low speed with the dough hook) until the ingredients for a ball, slowly working in the remaining 3/4 cup flour to stiffen the dough. (I was not able to work in the extra 3/4 cup I barely could work in the 3 cups from the beginning. The dough was not very pliable)
3. Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for at least 10 minutes (or for 6 minutes by machine)(this is by far the hardest part if you are doing by hand). The dough should be firm, stiffer than French bread dough, but still pliable and smooth. There should be no raw flour – all ingredients should be hydrated. The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 to 71 degrees F. If the dough seems to dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading. If the dough seems tacky or sticky, add more flour to achieve the stiffness required. The kneaded dough should feel satiny and pliable but not be tacky.
4. Immediately divide the dough into 4 1/2 ounce pieces for standard bagels, or smaller if desired (Deb note: I used 2.25 ounce pieces, and yes, I weighed them because I wanted them to bake evenly). Form the pieces into rolls. ( Mine were very uneven and I cut triangles, do not do that. Try to cut off square pieces it makes shaping them easier. If they look small remember, they will rise)
5. Cover the rolls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for approximately 20 minutes.
6. Line 2 sheet pans with baking parchment and mist lightly with spray oil. Proceed with one of the following shaping methods:
Method 1: Poke a hole in a ball of bagel dough and gently rotate your thumb around the inside of the hole to widen it to approximately 2 1/2 inches in diameter (half of this for a mini-bagel). The dough should be as evenly stretched as possible (try to avoid thick and thin spots.)
Method 2: Roll out the dough into an 8-inch long rope. (This may require rolling part of the way and resting if the pieces are too elastic and snap back, in which case, allow them to rest for 3 minutes and then extend them again to bring to full length. Wrap the dough around the palm and back of your hand, between the thumb and forefinger, overlapping the ends by several inches. Press the overlapping ends on the counter with the palm of your hand, rocking back and forth to seal.
This dough was way too stiff for me to be able to roll it and connect the bagels, I used the first method of poking. I found using your fingers in the center and palming as you to rotate redistributed the dough ended up being easier and more even.
7. Place each of the shaped pieces 2 inches apart on the pans (Deb note: I got away with 1-inch space for the minis). Mist the bagels very lightly with the spray oil and slip each pan into a food-grade plastic bag, or cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the pans sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.(I did not mist them)
8. Check to see if the bagels are ready to be retarded in the refrigerator by using the “float test”. Fill a small bowl with cool or room-temperature water. The bagels are ready to be retarded when they float within 10 seconds of being dropped into the water. Take one bagel and test it. If it floats, immediately return the tester bagel to the pan, pat it dry, cover the pan, and place it in the refrigerator overnight (it can stay in the refrigerator for up to 2 days). If the bagel does not float. Return it to the pan and continue to proof the dough at room temperature, checking back every 10 to 20 minutes or so until a tester floats. The time needed to accomplish the float will vary, depending on the ambient temperature and the stiffness of the dough. ( I also had no interest in doing this, after about 25 minutes I set in the fridge and let rest for 5 hours)
9. The following day (or 5 hours later) (or when you are ready to bake the bagels), preheat the oven to 500 degrees F with the two racks set in the middle of the oven. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (the wider the pot the better), and add the baking soda (and optionally, a few tablespoons of barley syrup, see Note at the end). Have a slotted spoon or skimmer nearby.
10. Remove the bagels from the refrigerator and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many as comfortably fit (they should float within 10 seconds). After 1 minutes flip them over rand boil for another minute. If you like very chewy bagels, you can extend the boiling to 2 minutes per side (Deb note: I used the 2 minute option). While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the same parchment-lined sheet pans with cornmeal or semolina flour. (If you decide to replace the paper, be sure to spray the new paper lightly with spray oil to prevent the bagels from sticking to the surface.) If you want to top (see note below) the bagels, do so as soon as they come out of the water. You can use any of the suggestions in the ingredients list or a combination.
11. When all the bagels have been boiled, place the pans on the 2 middle shelves in the oven. Bake for approximately 5 minutes, then rotate the pans, switching shelves and giving the pans a 180-degree rotation. (If you are baking only 1 pan, keep it on the center shelf but still rotate 180 degrees.) After the rotation, lower the oven setting to 450 degrees F and continue baking for about 5 minutes, or until the bagels turn light golden brown. You may bake them darker if you prefer. (Deb note: I actually baked them quite a bit longer, often almost five extra minutes. I judge by color, not internal temperature, in this case. I did not lower the oven temperature because I had multiple batches to bake.)
I added a bit of salt to the water as well as the recommended baking soda. I boiled them for 1 minute on each side then baked them at 500 F for 5 minutes. I reduced the heat to 450 F and rotated the bagel 180 degrees but I found they needed about 8 more minutes to be golden brown. These bagels were amazingly chewy with a perfect glossy crust. I made plain and topped versions.
12. Remove the pans from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving.
Cinnamon Raisin Bagels: For cinnamon raisin bagels, increase the yeast in the final dough to 1 teaspoon, and add 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon and 5 tablespoons of granulated sugar to the final dough. Rinse 2 cups of loosely packed raisins with warm water to wash off surface sugar, acid, and natural wild yeast. Add the raisins during the final 2 minutes of mixing. Proceed as directed, but do not top the bagels with any garnishes. When they come out of the oven and are still hot, you can brush the tops with melted butter and dip them in cinnamon sugar to create a cinnamon-sugar crust, if desired.