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Bagels

May 17, 2011
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It seems I have caught the bread bug.  When I stand in front of my fridge, as I often do, waiting for inspiration to strike, I look at the jar of active dry yeast that I brought here all the way from the States and think: I’d better use this up before I go.  As the good weather arrives and the school year comes slowly to an end, I’m starting to look at most things in that light, because in less than two months, it will be that time again: I’ll pack up everything I own and move house.  And I gotta say, as much as I love traveling, it sure will be nice the day I will no longer be able to say that all of my most important belongings can fit comfortably into the baggage hold of a Boeing 737.

Right now, that means minimizing “stuff,” and that means finding yeasted recipes that I can actually make with a tiny oven and no proper baking sheets.

Enter the bagel.

Bagels are unique because they are boiled before they’re baked.  I also like them because, like many other breads, they’re customizable: you can easily knead in some raisins or brush the bagels with an egg wash and poppy seeds, minced onion, or whatever you most feel like eating that day.  Feel free to experiment as you see fit.

Bagels are one of those foods I don’t really miss when they’re gone, but I sure do love them when they’re around.  On a related note, I apologize for the lack of photos… by the time I thought to pull out the camera, there really wasn’t much left.

Like naan, bagels surprised me with their simplicity.  I mastered this recipe after just a couple of tries, and I bet you will, too.  Enjoy!

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Bagels

Yield: 8 whole bagels (feel free to double or triple; since you’re probably going to toast them anyway, you might as well pre-slice and freeze them!)

2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 1/4 c. lukewarm water
1 Tbsp. canola or olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
4 c. bread flour (or, if you’re in Spain, all-purpose flour)

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast and the water. Allow to dissolve. Add the oil, salt, sugar, and flour and mix well.

2. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until a soft dough forms. On the same floured surface, cut dough into 8 equal pieces. Form the pieces into balls and cover lightly, allowing them to rest for 10-20 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 425º F (220º C) and bring a large pot of water to a low boil.

4. Shape bagels by rolling each ball into a long, skinny piece and circling the ends around to form a circle. Press the seam well. Allow the bagels to rest another 20 minutes or until puffy.

5. Boil each bagel for 1 minute on each side. (You will probably only be able to comfortably fit 4 bagels at one time in your pot.) Then place bagels onto a greased, parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

6. Bake bagels for 10 minutes.  Then, flip them and bake for 10 minutes on the second side.  Allow to cool before slicing and toasting.  (They’re not bad warm out of the oven, but I really prefer them toasted.)

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