Liralen Li (liralen) wrote,
Liralen Li

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Real Bagels

I've made pretzels at home, in the past, and while they tasted good and they had that cool, chewy crust, they were also disappointingly flabby and kind of gooey if they cooled off at all from being right out of the oven. I didn't think I'd do any better with bagels.

But I've been percolating the idea of making my own bagels for quite some time. Some of it was seeing nearly a dozen different programs highlighting famous or not-so-famous bagel shops all over the country on the Food TV Network, and watching the guys making the bagels and thinking, well, that's not so hard, is it? Flour, water, barley malt, yeast, salt, and time. A few folks even went through the whole process of mix, make, fridge, boil, coat, and bake, so I felt that I had some clue as to the process.

I have this cookbook called The Best Recipe by the same folks that do Cooks Illustrated, who pretty much take one thing, make a few hundred of them in search of the perfect recipe that tastes good to everyone they have in their kitchens. I've been pretty impressed with the magazine, though they're very clearly concentrating entirely on taste and ease of prep.

They had, in the book, a recipe for bagels. From the tests I could clearly see why the process in the shops evolved to be what they are. It was very cool. The recipe seemed to follow the process as I'd seen it in the various shops. So I tried it rather than try and evolve my own recipe. The dough in the recipe seems impossibly dry. My stand mixer got hot doing the eight minute knead, and I was really glad I didn't have to do it by hand. While shaping the bagels, I had to resort to a knife instead of pinching dough balls off the main ball! It was that hard.

But the overnight rise, the boil did just fine, and the final bake created fat rings of crusty, chewy wonderful bagel. It amazed me. They had the same texture, fragrance, and chew of speciality shop bought bagels. They were a bit softer than I was used to, though, but after a few hours in the fridge, afterwards, they were exactly the same. Hee. I so rarely eat day-made bagels I hadn't known they came out like that. That's pretty funny. The ones fresh out of the oven were so very good.

If anyone ever wants to make bagels themselves, I'd highly recommend the recipe in The Best Recipe. Okay. I'd also recommend their snickerdoodles, too. They're crisp on the edges, chewy in the middle, and with that undefinable subtlety of flavor that comes of having only baking soda and cream of tartar rather than baking powder.

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