Whole Wheat Bagels

Except for a restaurant job that required me to make 30 apple tarts a day, my experience has mostly been at the savory end of things. In the kitchens that had them, pastry cooks seemed a separate breed from those of us on the line. They came in during the early hours when it was quiet, and seem to rely primarily on drinking herbal tea to get them through their day. They would patiently mix dough, roll out pastry, and check the progress of the ovens — quite unlike the hectic pace of the short-tempered, adreneline junkies around me cooking for service.

I’d always thought I’d turn to baking once I got older and, presumably, became more patient. It’s still not my metier, the place where I’m most skilled, but I’ve learned to enjoy the slower rhythm and step-by-stepness it requires. Last week-end’s snow day afforded me the welcome chance to practice making bagels, something I’ve been wanting to do since learning how to last fall.

Opinion varies when it comes to bagels, and a quick search of my library yielded 38 different recipes alone. The one from my teacher’s book, Baking Artisan Pastries and Breads, seemed a safe place to start, and yields a nicely chewy version. I’ve never gotten accustomed to the idea of bagels with cinnamon and raisins, and chose to leave those out. Other than that, I followed the recipe as directed and found it perfectly suited to the home kitchen — just the right amount of dough to fit in my mixer, just the right number of bagels to make at one time, and just the right size to eat without guilt. Most importantly, the overnight proofing allows the home cook to make the dough the night before then bake them in the morning, just in time for a Sunday breakfast to beat all.

Baking notes:

    • The recipe for Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raising Bagels by Ciril Hitz can be found here and here.
    • For a simple whole wheat bagel, omit the cinnamon sugar and raisins.
    • There’s a misprint, it should be diastatic “malt” instead of “milk.” I used organic malt syrup, about 1 to 2 tablespoons.
    • If you don’t already have one, get a kitchen scale. Weighing ingredients simplifies and quickens the process of assembling the dough, and makes it easier to portion.
    • After mixing, I hand-kneaded the dough slightly before shaping.
    • The accompanying video shows how to shape the bagels. The next time I’ll remember to review the video before diving in, rather than finding out what I did wrong afterwards.
    • To avoid using plastic bags, I proofed the shaped bagels in parchment-lined shallow food bins with covers.
    • When using honey for blanching, make sure to skim any impurities out before proceeding. The honey may be replaced with maple syrup or malt.
    • Use a light hand when blanching; a longer blanch results in a thicker skin, or crust.

Local ingredients: Whole wheat flour from Brookford Farm; honey from Harrison’s; and salt from Maine Sea Salt.

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7 Responses to Whole Wheat Bagels

  1. Liz says:

    Oh for enough time to make bagels….you just simply can’t buy a nice bagel in Melbourne (well I’ve yet to come across one) and now I’m salivating looking at yours…perhaps if I send the kids to the park with their father…

    • leduesorelle says:

      I always had a block about making bagels, but it turns out they’re not as complicated as I’d feared. Having lived in the UK, I’m imagining you have a kitchen scale — everything gets weighed into the mixer bowl, then the mixer does the rest. Forming the bagels is a fun, almost addicting process — and perfect to do with kids!

  2. Lisa says:

    Wow that is so impressive. Perhaps I may give making bagels a try. Do theses freeze very well?

  3. Robin says:

    Those bagels look perfect! This is one thing that I should try to make.

  4. leduesorelle says:

    I might not be making them if we had a decent bagelry but, like most things, necessity’s forced me to try!

  5. Lisa says:

    leduesorelle–I told my husband about your bagel recipe and that it looked pretty managable–he said great, because all the good bagel stores around here have closed, so we can start making our own. He is a great cook.

    Lisa at http://tomatothymes.blogspot.com/

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