Friday, March 23, 2012

Atts a bagel!

As a displaced New Jerseyan, I admit to a certain level of bagel snobbery. I've heard many excuses - mostly that the water within a fifty mile radius of New York City is the only water acceptable for making pizza, bagels, etc.

Um... Really? Does this actually make sense to anyone? The tap water in my NJ hometown tastes like a YMCA swimming pool, but the Bagel Bin still has the most delicious bagels on the planet.

This doesn't change the fact that most bagels in NC majorly suck. Like most things, however, I believe the secret is in the method. You cannot bake a successful bagel without boiling it first. Period. That's how you get that delicious chewy crunchy combo that proves so elusive to the chain bakeries. Ideally, you'd have some malt in the water, but I find that some honey works equally well. Seriously...who has malt in their house?

You can take any basic dough recipe (I use Christina Tosi's mother dough recipe from the Milk Bar cookbook) and succeed. Just be sure that your recipe uses high gluten flour or bread flour.  This is essential for a delicious chewy bagel.  Some other tips:

- Roll dough into a snake. (4 oz for big bagels, 1.5 or 2 oz for mini bagels).  Turn your snake into a ring. This is not an exact science. I usually wrap the bagel around my four fingers and then twist the ends together to form a ring. Meh. It will turn out fine.

- Throw your bagel into your honey water mixture. Leave it in there for two minutes, or until it floats. be sure that you flip it over to give both sides a nice skin.

-Pick your bagel our with a spider or slotted spoon and immediately dip into toppings of your choice (I went with sesame seeds).  Some people like to dip the bottom of their bagels in cornmeal. I don't. This reminds me of Dunkin Donuts bagels, which are disgusting and pathetic.

-Pop your bagels into a medium heated oven (I went with 375*). I used a preheated pizza stone.

-Leave the bagels in for about 20 minutes. Allow them to cool for 10 minutes or so before slicing into them and scarfing them up!

Here is a photo of my adorable mini bagel:

MINI BAGEL! I hope that those of you who (like me) don't live in a city with acceptable bagels will try this out at home.  It might take a few tries, but eventually, you'll be a pro!  If you need inspiration for a recipe to try out these techniques, feel free to e-mail me and I can give you a few ideas.

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