Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Daring Bakers Challenge: Bagels
Before this month’s challenge I thought I didn’t like bagels, American bagels that is. The few bagels that I had until now were not memorable: too plain, too chewy, too tough; in other words, bad memories. Making bagels was really challenging for me since I have never made this kind of bagels before and have no experience on how the real bagel should taste or feel like. For me the kind of bagels that I grew up eating and loving has a texture crossed between bagels and brioche and flavored with anis seeds, sesame seeds and orange zest. I then decided to seek some advices from some bakeries around where I live, explaining them my situation, without broking my daring baker pledge of course. I really wanted to know what makes a bagel, a bagel and how to make sure that my bagels don’t float, since the water bath was the thing that scared me the most. Some baker were nice enough to take the time and explain it to me and some thought I was trying to steel their secret recipe. Some bagels were good; some of them were not that good.
Days went by when I started checking with some studious fellow daring bakers that had already tried the bagel recipe. Two words came back over and over again: floating and sinking. My fear of the water bath for the bagels was then multiplied by one hundred.
Then came the Bagel Day. I followed the recipe while taking notes of my friend’s advices. Come the water bath stage and here I see all my bagels floating. Not only they were floating but also they were getting bigger and deformed. I thought about sinking them my self but then I remembered that I should only stick to the recipe. The result: my first batch of bagels was ugly, shameful, misshapen and chewyliscious. Yes, I even invented a word for them.
I was so disappointed, I told my self that I would never make bagels or eat bagels or even look at a bagel again. But then I remembered what the foundation of the daring bakers was all about. It is about trying once, twice until you learn. It’s about being patient and trying to see objectively what went wrong. What went wrong with my dough? I overproofed the yeast. Yes, you read it right, not the dough, the yeast: You know, the first stage when you mix the yeast with the water and you are supposed to let it rise 5 min, well with me I left it 30 min. From there, everything went super puffy.
The following day, I started all over again: the yeast, 5 min this time, didn't add all the flour, kneading well and harder, punching down the dough with all the muscles that I don’t have, trying to shape as little as possible and using malt syrup instead of sugar. The result: Although not all the bagels went straight to the bottom of the pan, 5 out of 7 came out just as they were supposed to. They didn’t have the same shape but I was pretty happy with the result. The texture was just a little chewy with a lot of softness to it. For some people, it might not taste as a bagel but for me it was just the way I like it. I used sesame seeds and kosher salt as a topping for half of my bagels and poppy seeds, sesame seeds and garlic flakes for the others. As a filling I used Nutella instead of cream cheese and the garlic bagels were used as a sandwich bagels with lettuce, goat cheese and turkey patties. Sorry if I don’t have pictures of them but I couldn’t wait to eat them.
Once again thanks to Jenny and Freya for this challenge that made me appreciate the real, homemade bagel. You can head to their respective blogs for more details on the recipe.