by Heather Harris Brady
I know. Bagels in the middle of summer? To which I can only say – it’s what you do if you have the better part of 25 lbs in high-gluten flour waiting on your countertop. So my gluten free friends, you’ll want to grab some fresh fruit and hang out here today! This is a good weekend project, because the longer you can let them rise the more flavor they’re going to have.
One of the most important things I learned during this venture was the importance of maintaining an unbroken envelope (or “skin”) around your formed bagels. You do this by kneading each one in turn before you form it. This keeps your bagel shapely during the boiling and baking process. You’ll see what I mean as we go. If you haven’t worked with high-gluten flour before you should know that it’s somewhat harder to clean up. I bought mine at a local foodservice supply, $8 for a 25-lb bag. You can make bagels with regular flour but you’re never going to get that distinctive chewiness without the high gluten content.
Bagels, Makes about 18 4″ bagels
1-3/4 c. water
2 T. brown sugar
1-1/2 t. yeast
1 c. regular all-purpose flour
4-1/2 c. high-gluten flour
1/2 c. wheat germ
Water, brown sugar and kosher salt for boiling
Combine the yeast, sugar, water and the cup of regular flour. Let it rise for at least a couple hours.
When you’re ready for the next step, stir the high-gluten flour and wheat germ into your sponge. It should be really stiff and somewhat dry, if it’s not add a bit more flour. Bagels have a very low moisture ratio in the dough.
Set the dough aside and let it double in bulk. You could leave it overnight in the refrigerator too if you want. Now knead it for five-10 minutes. It’s going to tough going, but it’s got to be done. As you can see, I separated mine into three sections because it was easier to knead smaller pieces than dealing with the whole mass of dough. Instead of soft and pliable the texture is going to more like a car tire. Let rise again until doubled.
Punch the dough down and sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal. Cut the dough into pieces for your bagels.
Knead each piece making sure to have an unbroken skin around the outside as a wrapper. Either poke a hole in the middle of your kneaded ball or push it out into a rope and connect the ends firmly. Place them on the cornstarch and let rise until doubled.
See how this one in the corner is smooth all over and the one next to it is bumpy with a little bit tucked underneath? Smooth = good. It doesn’t do anything to the taste of course but they’ll look a lot nicer.
When they’ve doubled put a large pot of water on to boil and add 1 T. salt and 2 T. brown sugar. After it’s boiling lower in the bagels a few at a time.
Let them boil a minute or two on each side, depending on how chewy you want the outside to be. The longer the boil the more chewier the outside will be. Scoop them out and lay them wet on a greased baking sheet. Now is the time to sprinkle them with salt or whatever toppings you want.
Preheat the oven to 375 convection. If you don’t have convection go with 425. Slide the tray into the hot oven and turn the heat down to 375. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until they are as brown as you’d like. Remove to racks to cool.
They’re ready for slicing, toasting and topping with butter, peanut butter, cream cheese, smoked salmon. . .If you start the sponge tonight you can have fresh bagels for Sunday brunch.