Monday, May 24, 2010

Basic Bagel

The ratio of the water to flour is critical for bread baking.  Slight changes in the ratio can impart a different texture to the final products.  I have been baking bagels every weekend, some times twice a day, for past few weeks to find out the best flour and water ratio.  Bagel dough is drier than regular bread.  Not enough water makes the bagels too dry, and too much water gives them the texture of regular bread.  After trial and error, I think I found the perfect ratio for the bagels.  The raising time matters, too.  Bagels do not require the first rise.  The second rise could be somewhere between 15 ~ 40 minutes.  The shorter the rising time is, the harder the bagels get.  I personally prefer 20~25 minutes.  And last but not least,  the way you shape the bagel is reflected in the
final texture too.

There are tons of bagel recipes on the internet.  Surprisingly, most recipes calls for a measuring cup to measure flour.  If you are inexperienced baker like me, and cannot tell the right texture of the bagel dough (as I said, bagel dough is tougher than regular bread dough), I highly recommend using a scale.  You could easily over-pack or under-pack the flour in a measuring cup, and the dough will be too dry or too wet.  

Finally, using an egg wash is totally optional.  Bagels applied with an egg wash are shiner than the ones without, but there is no difference in taste.  If you are using sesame seeds or poppy seeds, I recommend using it: the seeds attach to the bagels better.

Basic Bagel Print Recipe

2 1/4 tspinstant yeast (1package)
2 Tbspsugar
1 tspsalt
1 Tbspoil
1 1/3 cuplukewarm water
570g bread flour

1 Tbsphoney

1 egg white
1 Tbspwater

sesame seeds (optional)

  1. Knead the dough: In a large bowl, combine the instant yeast, sugar, salt, oil, and lukewarm water and stir (The ingredients do not need to dissolve in the water. The yeast may be a little lumpy.) Add the flour to the bowl and mix with a spoon or a spatula first in order to avoid the dough sticking to your hand.  When the mixture starts to come together, start using your hand, and transfer the dough to a clean surface.  Knead the dough until smooth, about 15 minutes. 
  2. Let the dough rest: Divide the dough into even 12 pieces.  Form each piece of dough into a ball.  Cover the balls with a damp towel to avoid dehydration. Rest the dough for 10 minutes.
  3. Shape the dough (see the pictures below): Lightly dust the rolling pin with flour.  One at a time, place a ball on to a clean surface, the bottom side up, and roll into an oval shape.  Roll the dough and pinch the edges to seal.  Roll the dough on the surface and make it into a 7~8-inch rope.  Overlap and join the ends (If you like harder, tighter dough, twist the rope when you join the ends). Squish and roll to fuse the ends. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.  Cover with a dry towel, let it rise about 20 minutes. 
  4. Preheat the Oven: Preheat the oven to 420 degrees.
  5. Boil the dough: In a pot, boil 1.5~2L of water, add honey and stir.  Lower the bagels into the water, 2~3 bagels at a time, boil them for 30 seconds per side. 
  6. Dress the bagel: Place the bagels onto a prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl, mix the egg white and one table spoon of water.  Brush the bagels with the egg white mixture.  Dip the bagel with sesame seeds if desired. 
  7. Bake the bagel: Transfer the baking sheet into the oven, bake for 9 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet and bake for another 8~9 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven, and let them cool on a wire rack.  
Yields 12 small bagels