Last week, it was English Muffins. This week, it’s homemade bagels. Why the carb overload, you ask? Well it just so happens that my dad just came back from a weeklong business trip to Finland, and he brought back exactly five packages of buttery, salty smoked Norwegian salmon.
Translation: we have lox.
So…making bagels? It’s the ONLY course of action. You CAN get them at certain imported food stores here in Beijing, but they’re really lame-o facsimiles of the chewy, crispy New York variety. No comparison can be made, really.
Luckily, making homemade bagels is actually not as difficult as I’d originally thought. If you have the ability to knead some dough and roll it out into ropes (which any kindergartner with a plastic can of play-doh can do), you can make bagels. You don’t need any special equipment, and the ingredients are pretty basic. Just make sure that your yeast is really fresh. I’ve made these with sad, tired, sat-in-the-refrigerator-too-long yeast, and they came out flat. So check your expiration dates and make sure that it’s fresh and good to go.
The only slightly weird ingredient here is the barley malt syrup. You can buy this in most health food stores or online. It may only be 2 tablespoons, but the syrup gives the bagels their bagel-y flavor. It’s really worth seeking out. We brought this jar over from the States.
In terms of toppings, get creative! We did regular ol’ poppy seed and sesame seed here, but you can also try making cinnamon raisin bagels, blueberry bagels, asiago cheese bagels, or my sister’s favorite…everything bagels. You have permission to get crazy.
Here’s our homemade bagels recipe!
In a small bowl, stir together the yeast, water, and syrup until fully dissolved. In a large bowl, whisk together the bread flour, salt, and sugar. Add the yeast mixture, and stir together with your hands.
Work the flour and yeast mixture into a dough and knead for ten minutes, until smooth and elastic. Add a bit more flour if it gets too sticky. Shape the dough into a ball and put it in an oiled bowl. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise for 45 minutes to an hour. I love dough balls. They’re adorable, aren’t they?
Take the dough and cut it into twelve equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 7-inch rope and overlap the ends together, making sure they stick very well, or they’ll come apart when boiling. You can lightly moisten the ends with water to help them stick together. (You’ll see in the photos that a couple of the bagels did come apart a bit. Take it from me: make sure they stick. Constant VIGILANCE!).
*I just had this image of Mad-Eye Moody in the kitchen covered with flour, rolling out bagels. Twas amusing. If you’ve never read Harry Potter, then 1) Disregard my weird reference. and 2) Shame on you.*
Lightly sprinkle one side of each bagel with flour, and place onto a baking sheet, flour side down (this will prevent the bagels from sticking to the sheet when you go to lift them off for boiling). Continue with all the pieces until you have 12 bagels. Cover the bagels with a damp towel and allow to rise for another 30 minutes.
Bring a wide pan of water to a boil and add the baking soda. Place a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 425 degrees. Boil the bagels, 3 or 4 at a time, for 30 seconds on each side. The one in this picture rolled out a little weird, so that’s why you see creases in strange places. No worries, though. Tis an imperfect world we live in.
Drain them well and place them back on baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or any other toppings you fancy.
Bake your homemade bagels for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until they’re golden brown. Cool for 30 minutes or so before cutting.
…and schmearing with cream cheese.
…and piling on the lox.