Another recipe from Crust and Crumb against using the poolish style pre-ferment.
Funnily enough this was the recipe I wanted to make that created all of the poolish in the first place. The Husband finally developed an appreciation for the wonderfulness of a good bagel whilst we were overseas. On two occasions he had bagels (I know that’s not a lot in a 6 week period) but both times they satisfied amazing hunger needs. First time around was just a plain bagel, with nothing on it. Which may not sound all together appealing but after a bout of food poisoning and nearly 2 days of not eating, this was the very first thing he ate. He was ravenous by that stage and he was able to keep it down. Tick one for bagels! The second time around we were in transit on our way home, we hit Heathrow with a little bit of time to get some food into our systems (we’d been offered egg sandwiches in flight…so never going to happen for him!. We arrived seeing TGI Fridays, think score! Only to be disappointed with the line, with little else on offer, we headed to the shortest line. The bagel place! Now you wouldn’t hold much hope in these sorts of establishments really but, as “luck” would have it, it was nearly 8 hours since our last meal, so again he was ravenous. He howed down 1 bagel, slathered with cream cheese and salmon, enjoyed it immensely and was still hungry so dived on another, bacon and chicken this time around. Oh how he enjoyed them. So two very positive wonderful food memories associated with bagels!
So since I’ve returned I have been purchasing bagels in store, making variations on the above, plus others. But I always knew in the back of my mind that I would have to give cooking them a go. Then this book entered my life, and all of its wonderful-ness just called out to have everything inside it made. So slowly but surely I began that challenge. With immense joy as you may have already figured out!
I enjoyed making these bagels a lot. I love the poaching step, and I will be doing this again, and next time around I think I’ll be trying some poppy seed, or perhaps flavoured dough. And, maybe just maybe, using the entire batch of poolish just for them! This time around they just got speckled with some almond meal I used because I didn’t have cornmeal!
I did poach one a touch too long as I was distracted reading the commentaries (for the next recipe I’ll write about) which are so very important in this book. Which resulted in this one bagel being a touch more…..chewy then the rest of them. But, still tasty, and I am yet to really find anything truly wrong with his formulas! It is a very dry dough, that uses lukewarm water to ensure no little specks of yeast speckle the surface of your finished product and its very important you follow this, because part of a good bagel is its looks! I also really liked his method of forming the bagel, instead of rope-and-loop he suggests shoving your thumb through the centre of a ball of dough, and it works well, its quick and is a lot gentler on the dough. One important thing to remember is that when poaching your dough, if they do not float to the surface within 15 seconds of dropping them in, they have not been proofed enough and when baked in the oven the hole will close up.
Makes 6 – 14 bagels depending on the size you make
1 cup poolish
½ t instant yeast
½ cup lukewarm water
3.5 cups unbleached bread flour
1 ½ T honey or malt syrup
Meausre out the sponge and let it sit at room temperature for an hour before using it. Stir the yeast into the water to dissolve and let it sit for 3 minutes. combine the sponge, flour, salt and honey in the bowl of KitchenAid with a dough hook, add the water-yeast mixture.
Mix for 1 minute on a low speed and then for 10 minutes on medium speed – watching to make sure the machine is not struggling (you can of course knead by hand) when done the dough will be dense and fairly dry to the touch, and pass the windowpane test.
Immediately cut the dough into 6-14 pieces depending on the size you want. Roll the pieces into balls. Cover them with plastic wrap or a clean towel and rest for 5 minutes. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and dust it lightly with cornmeal.
To form the bagels, poke a hole in the centre of one piece of the dough with your thumb. Keeping your thumb in the centre, work your dough around, expanding the hole and making an even circle. Put your other thumb in the hole too and gently expand the hole to about 1 inch. If the dough resists or tears let it rest for a few more minutes.
Place the shaped pieces about 2 inches apart on the pan. Enclose the pan in a plastic bag and let the dough rest for 1.5 hours, until it increases about 25% – test the dough if you want, by drpping it in a pan of cold water. If it doesn’t float let it rest a bit longer and then try again.
Make sure the bag is closed and put in the fridge for at least 6 hours, if not over night.
Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 240C lightly grease a baking tray and line with parchment and sprinkle with cornmeal and then mist with spray. Remove the shaped dough from the fridge at least half an hour before you plan to bake them.
Fill a large pot of water with at least 4 inches of water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat so the water is simmering.
Working in batches, gently drop the dough in water. After 1 minute flip the bagels over with a slotted spoon and poach them on the other side for another 1 minute.
Remove the bagels with a slotted spoon, allowing the water to drip into the pot. Place them 2 inches apart on the tray. It is here you would sprinkle with seeds or toppings if you want.
Bake the bagels for 10-12 minutes, till lightly browned. Checking halfway through and rotating the pan front to back.
Transfer the bagels to a rack at allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before eating. To freeze bagels, allow to cool completely and seal tightly in a freezer bag, and its a good idea to pre-slice them at this point too!
Unbleached bread flour 100%
Instant Yeast 0.4%
Honey (or malt) 6.2%