Pass the bagels

Inspired by my recent success at making some things that I once considered impossible to replicate at home I ventured into the bagel arena.  I am a very picky bagel eater.  They must be crunchy and chewy and substantial.  None of this terrible bread that just happens to be arranged in the shape of a bagel business.  Again, the problem for me lies in the hefty price tag associated with said delicious bagel.  Ideally, I would like to stay at home with my son and continue to eat like I was single.  Am I asking too much here?  Maybe, but I am so up for the challenge.

I made bagels once before when my husband and I were first married.  They were good, but who cares if you spend $12.00 on a dozen bagels when your husband is in med school and you are a new teacher and the two of you have about 13 minutes together a day?  I didn’t  really want to spend those few minutes together over a pot boiling dough.

Now things are different for us.  We are about to start seeing each other for about 13 minutes a day again as he finishes his research time and heads back into the hospital to complete his residency.  I have the time to cook from scratch with Luke and he loves to help standing nearby on his little red step stool.  Matt and I still like to eat well, but we are on a very tight single salary budget.  What’s a girl to do but try out some new recipes and hope for the best.

So here is one of those bests from me.  Maybe I can turn this into a series: Budget-Friendly Bests!

BAGELS: (Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1-2/3 cups warm water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1-1/2 cups wheat pastry flour
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons table salt
  • Bagel Toppings
  • Vegetable oil (for bowl)
  • Plastic wrap
  • Parchment paper

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the yeast and water. Let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. Attach bowl to mixer fitted with the dough hook and — with the mixer on low speed — add the sugar, molasses, flours, and salt.  Knead for about 1 minute (until a slightly tacky — but not sticky — dough forms).  Continue to knead dough for about 5 more minutes — then transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with oiled plastic wrap.  (NOTE: I did this all in the Kitchen Aid stand mixer with the dough hook attachment and it worked GREAT.)
  3. Let rise in a warm place for 2 hours (until doubled in bulk).  We keeo our home cool… like, really cool.  So the only way I can get dough to rise is to set the oven to warm, turn it off and stash my dough in there.  I have tried a million things, and if you can’t get your dough to rise try this trick.
  4. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and rest for about 20 minutes.
  5. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  6. With lightly oiled hands, roll each piece of dough into a 6-inch rope. Form a circle around your hand and then roll the two ends together to seal.
  7. Place the bagels 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Cover with a piece of oiled plastic wrap (I used the same one from earlier in the process), and let rest until puffed (about 20 minutes).
  8. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F with racks in the upper and lower thirds.  Or if your oven is maxing out at 500 F too, then put the lower rack in the middle of the oven because the bottoms of the bagels will burn too close to the bottom element.
  9. Fill a large stockpot with water and bring to a boil..
  10. Gently drop bagels into the water about 2 at a time.  After 30 seconds, use a slotted spoon to gently flip the bagels over — simmer for yet another 30 seconds.
  11. Then, using the slotted spoon again, return the bagels to the parchment-lined sheets. Top them with the seeds or salt — you must do this when the bagels are still wet so everything sticks to them. Cinnamon and turbinado sugar is really good too.
  12. When you’ve finished this process with all the bagels, immediately place sheets in the oven. Bake for 5 minutes and then rotate the sheets and reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake until golden brown, probably about 10 minutes.
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