Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Bash at Bagels

The other day, I perused the ingredients on my bag of frozen Stop & Shop bagels and stopped short. A lot of frightening stuff in there.

So in line with my attempt to eat less processed food, I decided to take a bash at bagels.

I've long wanted to give homemade bagels shot, but been put off by the long process, which includes letting the dough sit overnight in the fridge and cooking them in water before they go into the oven. But I figured if I made a dozen or so and froze them, it would be worth the work.

I used a recipe from Peter Reinhardt's "The Bread Baker's Apprentice," which is the best bread book I've found so far. I will not go into specifics to respect the copyright, but while it took some time and effort, it wasn't ridiculous. Plus, because the dough needs to retard anywhere from overnight to two days, you can make the dough one evening and bake the bagels the next.

I made a couple of rookie errors. The bagels developed a nice oval shape in the fridge, but after I took the first few out of the water, I put the tops down first, ruining the look. I also made them a little big. Next time, I would make more smaller ones.

I tried to top some with sesame seeds, but, as with my crackers, they just don't want to adhere. My wife suggested an egg white wash, which is an excellent idea.

And the taste? Kind of disappointing. The bagels look great, but they have surprisingly little flavor. I thought they tasted a little like English muffins, but my wife pronounced them just plain bland. I don't want to overstate. They are perfectly fine, but lack that distinct bagel taste and texture.

I suspect part of the problem was my lack of malt syrup or powder. My recipe warned that this ingredient is key to the classic bagel. It suggested honey as a substitute and I used a robust, flavorful buckwheat honey I bought last week at the New Haven farmer's market. Alas, it fell short.

Not sure whether I'll try bagels again or start going to a proper bakery.

1 comment:

  1. They look delicious, but I think the really good bagel bakeries put secret ingredients in them that no one can replicate. I love Bruegger's in New Haven, but not Cohen's in Branford.