On the day that much of the Northeast was suffering the record-setting wrath of Sandy, we had only a very blustery day. There were a few downed trees and a few power outages in town, but we escaped mostly unscathed. Since everything was canceled, however, we were stuck inside without much to do. So, we followed the advice of the old saying, “when life gives you hurricanes, make bagels.” That is how it goes, right?
I’d been thinking about making my own bagels for awhile now. Little Guy and I split one almost every morning from the bagel place down the street. But the bagels we get there are full of white flour and not really the best breakfast for our brains. I wanted a bagel that had all the flavor and chewy goodness of a good NYC bagel, but full of whole grains. A little research had prepared me, and I knew that I would need a starter, some bread flour and a lot of patience.
So by the time Sandy blew in, I had a starter ready and waiting for us and my new favorite, graham flour, was lined up and ready for a little workout. Since I still wanted that classic chewy crust, I knew that I would need to cut the graham flour with bread flour to up the gluten content.
Cooking during a hurricane requires the ability to adapt, and we had no raisins in the house. Ladies and Gentlemen! Tonight the roll of raisins will be played by dates! Guess what? Dates stole the show. I think I’m starting something here. Dates are the new raisins; that’s all I’m saying…
That first round of hurricane bagels were good. Super chewy, but a little flat on flavor, even with the starter. After reading about bagels in Baking Illustrated I decided to try round two not only using a starter, but also letting them retard overnight to help develop flavor. Doing this also meant that I could get hot fresh bagels straight from the oven for breakfast. The result was something surprising. A bagel full of flavor and as chewy as any I’d ever had. Do you have to add the cinnamon and dates? Of course not, but it’s your loss if you don’t.
Keep in mind that if you are aiming for hot bagels fresh out of the oven, it requires just a little planning. Start your starter first thing in the morning the day BEFORE you want the fresh bagels. Then make your dough in the evening after dinner and get them into the fridge before bed. Then the next morning all you have to do is boil and bake the bagels. They are well worth the effort. Enjoy!
- 1/2 cup bread flour
- 1/4 cup water
- pinch yeast
- pinch sugar
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 2 cups bread flour
- 2 cups whole wheat flour (I use graham flour)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 cup chopped dates, loosely packed
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- To make the starter, mix the flour, water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and set in a warm corner of your kitchen for about 12 hours.
- When you are ready to make the dough, combine the starter, water, bread flour, graham flour, salt, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon and yeast in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer or bread machine. Mix until the ingredients all come together. It should be firm but not dry. You may need to add an additional tablespoon or two of water. If you are not using a bread machine, knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Fold in the dates (or add when your bread machine recommends), then allow the dough to double in size, about one hour.
- Punch the dough down, then turn out onto an unfloured surface. Cut the dough into twelve equal pieces. I use a scale for this step. Then cupping the palm of your hand around each piece of dough, roll it between your hand and the work surface to form a round dough ball. Allow the dough balls to rest for five minutes. Using your finger, punch a hole in the center of each dough ball and twirl it around your finger to form the classic bagel shape.
- Place the bagels on a lightly greased pan lined with parchment or a baking mat. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap that has been lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray and place in the refrigerator overnight, or for at least eight hours.
- When you are ready to bake your bagels, remove them from the refrigerator and let them sit in a warm (not hot) place for 10-15 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bring a large pan of water to a boil with one tablespoon of salt and one tablespoon of brown sugar. When the water comes to a rapid boil, place four of the bagels in the water. Cook for two minutes on one side, turn over and cook for an additional minute.
- Move the bagels back to the lined baking pan and repeat until all the bagels have been boiled. Bake the bagels for fifteen minutes then remove and lightly brush or spray the bagels with water. Return them to the oven and cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until the bagels are dark brown. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!