There are a whole lot of foods that I’m not sure are even worth the trouble of making at home, though I suspect this list varies by what you have accessible in your neighborhood. I feel fairly certain I won’t be making any falafel sandwiches in our new kitchen, especially now that I’ve discovered our proximity to the $2.50 perfection at Mamouns. I’m not even sure I’ll ever make pirogi again, after finding my fluffy, light pirogi nirvana this weekend at the Ukranian National Home. And in general, I’ve never seen a whole lot of purpose in making bagels from scratch in New York City — save a one-time baking frenzy — and certainly not when we lived less than two blocks from our bagel ideal, Murrays. (I’m a little lost for a decent bagel in the East Village — anyone? I think we’ve been spoiled.)
But all bets are off when you’re at a cattle ranch 90 minutes from the nearest city in Northeastern Oklahoma, where I’m pretty sure your best bet to land a decent handmade, water-boiled bagel is to tackle them in your own kitchen. Plus, when you’re visiting someone who had just recently discovered her fervent passion for bagels with cream cheese and lox, it is your New Yorker duty to come armed with fresh, delicious cream cheese and lox from Russ & Daughters. And so we did. But then we demanded she make her own bagels.
Okay, fine, we helped. We used the bagel recipe from Peter Reinhart that we’d fallen in love with — and gotten my dad’s Bronx stamp of approval on — a year and a half ago, but this time swapped half the batch with a cinnamon raisin variety. (I thought this might be an easier sell to her four young’uns, who may need a Starter Bagel before easing on into the smoked fish, onion and caper-stacked everything bagel classic. Okay, fine, I’m lying. I was the one who demanded it.)
Now, it’s not that I expected it to be difficult to make a cinnamon raisin bagel like you’d buy at one of New York’s finest bagelries, but I had not expected it to taste so utterly, completely spot-on; better than, even — easily surpassing the best ones we’ve ever bought. They were delicious straight from the oven, but after that wild rain worked their humidity on the boiled crust, they were even better toasted. And slathered with cream cheese. And eaten hours after the Sunday bagel rush has passed, but completely worth the effort and wait.
I think the Oklahoman approved.
RSS Changes Hey, Deb! Why’d you shorten your RSS feed? Only begrudgingly, and because widespread content theft had unfortunately left us with no other options. Read more about this change over here.
Cinnamon Raisin Bagels
Adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice
Yield: 12 super large, 16 regularly large or 24 miniature bagels
Want to make a plain or seeded variety? Original recipe is over here.
This can be a two-day or one extended day project. We started with the sponge early in the morning, and rested the dough in the fridge only three to four hours instead of overnight and found the results lacking for nothing. That said, the more time you give your dough to rest, the better developed and deeper the flavors.
1 teaspoon instant yeast
4 cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
2 1/2 cups water, room temperature
1 teaspoon instant yeast
3 3/4 cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons sugar
2 3/4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons malt powder or 1 tablespoon dark or light malt syrup, honey, or brown sugar
2 cups loosely packed raisins, rinsed with warm water to remove surfact sugar, acid, and natural wild yeast
1 tablespoon baking soda
Cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting
Melted butter for brushing (optional)
Cinnamon sugar for sprinkling (optional)
1. Day one: To make the sponge, stir the yeast into the flour in a 4-quart mixing bowl. Add the water, whisking or stirring only until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (like pancake batter). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly. It should swell to nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop.
2. To make the dough, in the same mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer), add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir. Then add 3 cups of the flour, cinnamon, sugar, salt and malt. Stir (or mix on low speed with the dough hook) until the ingredients form a ball, slowly working in the remaining 3/4 cup flour to stiffen the dough. In the last two minutes of mixing, add the raisins. (I ended up adding a bit of flour with them, as mine were still wet and made the dough a little sticky.)
3. Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for at least 10 minutes (or for 6 minutes by machine). The dough should be firm, stiffer than French bread dough, but still pliable and smooth. There should be no raw flour – all ingredients should be hydrated. The dough should 77 to 71°F. If the dough seems too dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading. If the dough seems tacky or sticky, add more flour to achieve the stiffness required. The kneaded dough should feel satiny and pliable but not be tacky.
4. Immediately divide the dough into 12 (4 1/2 ounce) pieces for super sized bagels, 16 (3.375 ounce) regular-sized bagels, or 24 (2.25 ounce) perfectly smaller bagels. Form the pieces into rolls.
5. Cover the rolls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for approximately 20 minutes.
6. Line 2 sheet pans with baking parchment and mist lightly with spray oil. Poke a hole in a ball of bagel dough and gently rotate your thumb around the inside of the hole to widen it to approximately 2 1/2 inches in diameter for a supersized bagel, two inches for a large one or just slightly more than one inch for a miniature. The dough should be as evenly stretched as possible (try to avoid thick and thin spots.)
7. Place each of the shaped pieces two inches apart on the pans. Mist the bagels very lightly with the spray oil and slip each pan into a food-grade plastic bag, or cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the pans sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.
8. Check to see if the bagels are ready to be retarded in the refrigerator by using the “float test”. Fill a small bowl with cool or room-temperature water. The bagels are ready to be retarded when they float within 10 seconds of being dropped into the water. Take one bagel and test it. If it floats, immediately return the tester bagel to the pan, pat it dry, cover the pan, and place it in the refrigerator overnight (it can stay in the refrigerator for up to 2 days). If the bagel does not float. Return it to the pan and continue to proof the dough at room temperature, checking back every 10 to 20 minutes or so until a tester floats. The time needed to accomplish the float will vary, depending on the ambient temperature and the stiffness of the dough.
9. The following day (or when you are ready to bake the bagels, see head notes), preheat the oven to 500°F with the two racks set in the middle of the oven. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (the wider the pot the better), and add the baking soda. Have a slotted spoon or skimmer nearby.
10. Remove the bagels from the refrigerator and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many as comfortably fit (they should float within 10 seconds). After 1 minute, flip them over and boil for another minute. If you like very chewy bagels, you can extend the boiling to 2 minutes per side. While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the same parchment-lined sheet pans with cornmeal or semolina flour. (If you decide to replace the paper, be sure to spray the new paper lightly with spray oil to prevent the bagels from sticking to the surface.)
11. When all the bagels have been boiled, place the pans on two middle shelves in the oven. Bake for approximately five minutes, then rotate the pans, switching shelves and giving the pans a 180-degree rotation. (If you are baking only one pan, keep it on the center shelf but still rotate 180 degrees.) After the rotation, lower the oven setting to 450°F and continue baking for about 5 minutes, or until the bagels turn light golden brown. You may bake them darker if you prefer.
12. Remove the pans from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving. Optionally, when they come out of the oven and are still hot, you can brush the tops with the melted butter and dip them in cinnamon sugar to create a cinnamon-sugar crust, if desired. But who’d want to eat something like that?