Sourdough Rye Bagels

2015-03-15 11.19.55

(I know this is mostly a poetry blog. It’s been probably two years since I last wrote about food. But several people have requested my bagel recipe, so here it is!)

I love bagels. And as much as I love Texas, quality bagels are difficult to get down here. So as I began to get more experienced with baking bread, I decided to give bagels a try.

My first two attempts were pretty dismal, and I didn’t try again for a few years. But I decided after I moved into my current place that I really wanted to give them a try again. I’ve been making a batch at least once a month, trying to get bagels right. Finally, last weekend, I hit the jackpot, and I have taste-tester agreement to confirm it.

The recipe I use is based off of Rose Levy Beranbaum’s bagel recipe, which can be found in The Bread Bible. This recipe has served as my template, but the additions of sourdough and rye are my own.

To begin, you will need an established sourdough starter. Your starter can be liquid or stiff. I personally use a stiff starter, and that’s what’s called for in this recipe. For more information on starters, check out this article by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Time: At least 8 hours (most of this involve dough rising), or as many as 48.
Yield: Approximately 10 bagels
Note: Although this goes without saying for experienced sourdough users, you should give your starter a good feeding before using it in this recipe.

Ingredients:
Bagel Starter
Approx. 1/4 cup stiff sourdough starter
2 1/4 cups lukewarm water
3 cups bread flour

Flour mixture
2 cups bread flour
1/3 cup rye flour
1 teaspoon instant or active dry yeast
1 tablespoon malt powder or barley malt syrup
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Water Bath
2 tablespoons molasses or 1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda

Glaze and topping
2 large egg whites
1 teaspoon cold water
3-4 tablespoons caraway seeds

Procedure
1. Combine the flour and water for the bagel starter. Tear up the stiff starter into small pieces. Stir together until they make a lumpy, thick batter. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap
2. In a large bowl, combine the ingredients for the flour mixture. Remove the starter cover and pour the flour mixture on top of it, covering the starter. Re-cover. Let stand 1-4 hours at room temperature, or 1 hour at room temperature and then refrigerated for up to 24 hours. (The longer it refrigerates, the stronger the flavor)
3. If the starter has been refrigerated, let stand at room temperature 30 minutes prior to mixing. If you’re using a mixer, put your dough hook on a low setting and mix 8-10 minutes. If by hand, stir the flour into the starter and then knead 10-15 minutes. You may need to add additional flour if the dough is sticky. Do so gradually, about a teaspoon at a time.
4. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and oil the top. Cover. Let rise for 1-2 hours until doubled. Deflate the dough, give it an envelope turn, and put it back in the container. Re-oil, cover, and refrigerate 4-12 hours.
5. Let refrigerated dough stand at room temperature 30 minutes before shaping. Cut the dough into 10 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then make a hole in the center with your finger. Hook your thumbs through the hole and stretch it until the hole is about 2.5 inches in diameter. Cover the dough with a towel and let rest for about 10 minutes.
6. Preheat the oven to 500 and then bring a pot of water to a boil. Stir in the molasses/sugar and baking soda. Boil the bagels for 30 seconds to 2 minutes per side (longer boiling time results in a thicker crust). You will probably only be able to boil 2 bagels at a time. Remove the boiled bagels with a slotted skimmer and place them on parchment or a towel to drain.
7. Whisk the eggs whites and water together. Brush each bagel with two coats. Sprinkle the seeds over each bagel.
8. Bake the bagels at 500 for 5 minutes. Drop the heat to 450 and then bake for 20 minutes.
Note: Beranbaum’s recipe has you then turn off the oven but leave the bagels in for 5 minutes, and then prop open the oven door and leave them in 5 minutes more. Mine always come out overdone when I follow those last steps, but if your bagels don’t look quite done, add those last ten minutes to your baking time.
9. Enjoy bagels with the topping of your choice.

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