Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Let it Rise

I've been tinkering with my bagel recipe. My basic formula works, but I've grown increasingly dissatisfied with the flavor and texture.

So I decided to let my dough rise before forming into bagels. I figured two hours, but after about 90 minutes the mass had doubled in size and threatened to rip the plastic wrap from the bowl. I punched it down, cut it into pieces and formed bagels. I was going to make them then and there except that a TV show I wanted to watch was about to start. So I spritzed the tops with spray oil, covered with plastic wrap and stuck the rounds into the fridge.

As I've written before, I'm not crazy about the overnight retard (or should I say, developmental disable) in many bagel recipes. It makes the bagels too airy for my taste. But an hour or two? I figured that might produce a less dense but still chewy interior and more taste.

After about two hours, I took the bagels out of the fridge, did a boil and shoved them in the oven. I also put a pan of water on a rack at the top of the oven to encourage a crispier crust.

Oddly, the bagels took longer to bake, perhaps because they were cold when they went into the boil, about 25 to 30 minutes instead of the usual 20.

The result was superior. The bagels had a hard crust as opposed to relatively soft outside from my earlier recipe. They had better flavor and a lighter, but still chewy inside.

In sum: Let the dough rise until it doubles and then retard in the fridge for about two hours. I suspect a slightly longer retard -- say three hours -- might produce and an even better bagel. The key, at least to my taste, is producing more flavor while not allowing the insides to get too fluffy.

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