Nov 1, 2009

bigger than boobies

Instead of smearing myself with make-up and spending the night in a room filled with drunken zombies, I stayed at home. And made bagels, a first for me. We all need our firsts.

My recipe calls for an obscene amount of flour. So I halved it - I really couldn't see how eight cups of flour would fit into six bagels. To be extra safe, I even weighed everything. Even the water. I started with a sponge, which rested for a good bit more than the recommended two hours. It wasn't a warm day, which might explain it. When the time time came to extend the sponge into the dough, I realised why it was so suspiciously firm: in my halving of the recipe and halving of volumes to get to weight, I ended up adding twice as much flour as I wanted. And the amount of yeast became quite a grey topic too...

So I reverted to the original recipe, mixing more water in, then the additional flour, a bit more yeast. Kneading until smooth, then division into balls, "4 1/2 ounce" balls. (What are these ounce things?) I made 8, which still felt pretty substantial. More resting. Then shaping. At least two methods exist: one involves poking a hole in the ball then slowly working it larger, but I found it easier to form a little snake which I fold around my fingers and join again. Shaping it into smooth rings was harder than expected, but eventually I had a bunch of rings on a tray. Then into the fridge overnight - this is a Peter Reinhardt recipe after all.

This morning, they had grown even more. "As big as boobies!" L exclaimed. She had been watching Sex and the City. "Bigger than most breasts," I replied. And a bit too soft too (but let's not explore that right now).

Then they go into boiling water, with a bit of baking soda. The book cheekily suggested using a large pot and doing more than one: I could barely fit in one at a time. As soon as they came out, I sprinkled them with a mix of salt, poppy and sesame. My fears about the structural integrity came true - the boiling formed a good skin, but the dough was too soft, causing some to collapse slightly, some significantly. Still, I think it was significantly better than our previous attempt at boiled dough.

Then a hot oven for a bit. Three came out fairly puffy, the remainder incrementally less so, ending with a spectacular one, the size of a dinner plate, but about as thick as pita bread.
Bagels are really good when fresh. The crust was just chewy enough, the dough slightly more airy than I was expecting, but still substantial. When combined with smoked salmon, cream cheese and some leaves from the garden, you have a superbly decadent Sunday brunch.


Jeanne said...

Wow - have always been too scared to try my own bagels - it just sounds like such a production! Even though your success rate was low, those that worked REALLY worked. Looks wonderful!