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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Poppy Seed Bagels

Some things you just wouldn’t think of making yourself. Take these bagels for instance. Why make your own bagels? You can buy prepackaged bagels from the grocery store in an unbelievable number of flavors. You can buy them fresh, frozen or even recently baked from the store bakery. They come in white, wheat, high fiber, low fat, mega-size, mini-size and even skinny-size!

Maybe you’re not a fan of the grocery store bagels. There are local options on every corner for getting yourself a bagel. You can go chain and head to Panera, Brueggers or Einsteins. Or you can go local and support the small business owner in your town. The options for bagel purchasing are endless, which begs the question again, why make your own?

The answer is simple, because they are delicious. I was very suspect of this recipe when I first read it over. It seemed so long and complicated, like a lot of work for something that I could buy for three dollars. Even up until the morning that I began making these bagels I was dreading it. I set my alarm for 6am to get the sponge together, then I promptly went back to sleep for two hours. It was Saturday after all!

At 8am I rolled out of bed and into my kitchen (literally, I live in a studio apartment) and began getting the dough together. As I continued through the recipe I realized that it wasn’t going to take that long at all to make these bagels. Plus, they required an overnight sit in the fridge, meaning I wouldn’t have bagels until Sunday morning. I was done with the bagel prep by 9am and headed off to the lab for another rousing day of chemistry.

Fill me with more delicious!
After only twenty minutes of work on Sunday morning, I was the proud mama of six golden, chewy, crunchy bagels.  Fresh out of the oven, quickly toasted and slathered in butter, these bagels were perfect.  I stored the extras in a zip-top bag and tossed them in the fridge.  I've been enjoying my homemade bagels all week.  Will I give up storebought bagels?  Probably not.  Will I be making another batch of these?  Definitely.

Poppy Seed Bagels

I’m including the recipe this time because I cut the recipe in half because I didn’t need a dozen bagels. Follow these instructions for chewy and crunchy bagels. You can top them with whatever you like, seeds, salt, onions or garlic. Set aside some time two mornings in a row and you too can have homemade bagels, then you can tell all your friends.

½ tsp yeast
2 cups bread flour
1 ¼ cups water

¼ tsp yeast
1 ¾ cup plus 2 tbsp bread flour
1 1/3 tsp salt
½ tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp baking soda

Day 1

Make the sponge by combining first three ingredients (yeast, flour & water). Mix with a spoon and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for 2 hours.

Add remaining yeast, 1 ½ cups flour, salt and brown sugar. Stir (or mix with dough hook in stand mixer) until everything comes together. Add remaining flour until the dough becomes stiff. Knead by hand for ten minutes. The dough will be pretty stiff, but smooth and moldable.

Split dough into 6-4/5 ounce pieces. Form into balls and cover lightly in plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes. Next, poke a hole in the middle of each ball and run it around your fingers to widen the hole to about 2 inches.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment and lightly coat with spray oil. Place bagels 2-inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Recover bagels with plastic wrap and let sit for 20 minutes.

Fill a bowl with water and drop one bagel in. If it floats, dry off the bagel and place the covered bagels in the fridge overnight. If it doesn’t float, let stand for another 20 minutes and test again. Continue allowing the bagels to sit until they float.

Day 2

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking oil. Sprinkle on a thin layer of cornmeal. Heat oven to 500 and bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add baking soda to boiling water and stir. Boil bagels (probably three at a time) for 2 minutes per side. Place boiled bagels on parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle your desired topping over the bagels.

Bake for 5 minutes. Rotate pan 180 degrees and reduce heat to 450 (and set off the smoke detector at 7:30am, you’re welcome neighbors!). Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before trying to eat. Slice in half and slather with something else delicious! Don’t cut your finger, like I did this morning…
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