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.
- 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.