Good Bagels are One of the Tastiest Baked Treats you could ask for. Repeat: good bagels. And while most people don’t often have access to really well-made bagels, when we have them, we tend to remember both the bagels and where we got them. Like most baked goods, bagels have a few needs in their production, and they require a little special equipment, but there is nothing out of the ordinary, and nothing that is cost prohibitive.
Most all the bagels sold today are extruded, that is, the dough is forced through tubes and mechanically cut to size. This process pumps out the bagels at high speed—thousands per hour—but is very strenuous for the dough. For a chewy bagel, one that takes a while to get through, hand forming and boiling, rather than extruding and steaming, give the best results.
Another change that has gradually permeated the bagel industry has been the increasing tendency to make bagels perceptibly sweet, and to flavor them so extravagantly that they barely seem to be a bread product any longer. You will notice that there is no sugar in the dough in this formula. This is typical of traditional bagels, which were offered only as plain, poppy, or sesame, and sometimes salt and onion. For those who can’t conceive of an unsweetened bagel, I would first urge that you try making bagels the old-fashioned way. If your tastes have become accustomed to today’s style of bagels, the addition of perhaps 2 to 3 percent sugar in the present formula would not negatively impact the flavor or handling characteristics of the dough. My thanks to Rick Coppedge, an excellent baker from New York, for his technical help with bagels.
|Diastatic Malt Powder|
|Toppings, Optional: Sesame Seeds, Poppy Seeds, Coarse Salt, Other seeds of your choosing|
* Honey can be substituted for the malt syrup.
Note: 20% of the overall flour can be pre-fermented in a pâte fermentée.
Most bagel bakers agree that beginning the bake on the linen-lined boards brings the best results, and I concur with that opinion. Alternatively though, the bagels can be baked on sheet pans that have been sprinkled with semolina or coarse cornmeal with the good side up in hot oven. For this method, after boiling, place the bagels on cooling racks set above sheet pans, and let them drain for a couple of minutes before putting onto the baking pans. Seed as desired as in step 5, above. Bake time will be a little longer than if baking directly on the hearth, and if the bottoms darken too quickly, place a second sheet pan under the first; this will act as a heat buffer. Whichever method you choose for the bake, be sure some cream cheese is close by.
© 2004 All rights reserved. Published by Wiley.