One of my favorite foods (okay let’s be real, my number one favorite food) is a nice sesame bagel toasted with some nice melted butter (vegan of course). One of my first hard foods as a baby was nice frozen bagel; who knew that bagel would shape my very existence (into a bagel obsessed adult).
A brief history of the bagel…Records show that the bagel was invented (or at least mentioned) in Krakow, Poland around 1610, however, it did not make its way to the United States until the mass Eastern European immigration in the late 19th century. There were other similarly described breads mentioned even earlier in history in other parts of the world, including Italy and China. Bagels did not become popular/ubiquitous until the 1970’s, where before they were only found in Jewish markets and delis. 20 years later the bagel industry was booming thanks to the Lenders and their development of the “frozen bagel.”
I had only made bagels once before with mom when I was quite young, so this whole bagel making process was quite new to me. However, they came out quite good, which is why I am making them a second time in one week, and hope to make other flavors besides sesame. Bagels get their nice little crust from boiling the dough before baking it. The whole process takes about 2 hours because you need to let the dough sit for about an hour and 20 minutes in total (spread out).
Now that I live in New York, I am still trying to figure out what a true “New York Bagel” really is all about about. I have my few favorite bagel places but I have discovered I tend to like a perfectly crisp outside layer with an almost flaky doughy inside. Some theories are that New York Bagels are the best due to softness of New York’s water, which as lower levels of calcium carbonate. New York bagel shops also tend to ferment their dough over night, which in turn enriches the dough with a specific yeasty flavor we all seem to love. I am still on the quest for the “true” New York bagel experience.
New York Style Bagel Recipe (adapted from Sophisticated Gourmet):
Makes 8 mid-sized bagels.
- 1 packet of active dry yeast (~2 teaspoons)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ~1 1/4 cups of warm water
- 3 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- Combine yeast, sugar, and a 1/2 cup of warm water. Let sit for five minutes until mixture is bubbly. Do not stir (yet).
- Whisk the mixture until the yeast and sugar have dissolved. Set aside.
- In a large bowl combine flour and salt. Make a small well in the middle of the flour mixture. Add yeast mixture and 1/3 cup of water.
- Stir together the ingredients until a moist, but firm, dough has formed, adding more water and flour as needed.
- On a floured countertop/surface knead dough for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Kneading is important for removing air bubbles so make sure you take the time!! (A bread machine would also be perfect here). You can look up kneading techniques here.
- Lightly oil dough and a large bowl (I used a little spritz of pam and a paper towel to ensure a thin coverage). Place dough in bowl and cover dough with a damp towel, setting in aside in a warm space. Set aside for an hour until dough doubles in size.
- Punch down dough and cover again, setting aside for another 10 minutes.
- Rip dough into 8 equal pieces to create the bagel balls. Using your finger, create a hole in the middle of the ball that is roughly a third of the diameter, creating the bagel shape. Once complete, set aside for another 10 minutes, once again covered by a damp cloth.
- Now preheat your oven to 425 F.
- Fill a large pot with water. Heat until boiling. Place as many bagels into the pot; the bagels will float to the top and then you will boil each side of the bagel for 1-2 minutes. The longer you boil, the chewier the bagel. Use a slotted spoon to flip the bagels.
- Place bagels in a lightly oiled pan/baking sheet and add your toppings!!! Bake for 20 minutes until the bagels are a light brown color.
Also don’t miss a beat on what I’m cooking up: check out my new instagram account @chocolatenchickpeas. 😀