Monday, June 27, 2011

Bagel: "Excuse Me, I'm Not a Donut!"

Honestly, I cannot remember if I have ever tasted a bagel before.  Most of our bakeries here do not sell bagels.  Somehow, I remember bagels are quite heavy and dense, very different from our usual soft and fluffy bread.  Talking about soft bread, donuts (the bagel look-alike bread) is far more popular in Singapore.  When Donut Factory first started an outlet in Singapore, super long queues were seen at the basement shopping mall of Raffles City, just for a box of its famous donuts.  As for bagels, you may probably find them at coffee joints like Starbucks or Coffee Beans (and they are so expensive!).  If you are a bagel lover, you would have heard of this online bagel store, NYC Bagel Factory.   

So, why am I making these bagels?  I happened to surf the net, saw a few bagels recipes and thought of trying it since I have never made bagels before.  It needs only a few basic ingredients - bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt and water.  And one important step that caught my attention - you need to boil the dough just before baking!  How interesting!  I wondered what will happen when I boil the dough in water.  Will the dough absorbs the hot water and become spongy?  Will it melt inside the pot of water?  In the first place, why do you need to boil the dough before baking?  I guess it is my curiosity that drives me to bake these bagels. 

From what I gathered, bagels are boiled to give their signature dense and chewy texture.  The boiling is very brief, about 20 seconds to one minute on each side.  So, the water does not penetrate far into the dough.   Instead, the brief boiling forms a crust on the surface even before the bagel starts to bake in the oven.  When the crust is set, the bagels will not rise very much during baking, which explains the dense interiors.  Hence, the longer you boil a bagel, a thicker crust will form on the surface and you have a more dense and chewy bagel.  

Sweet & savory bagels: cream cheese, blueberries & cream, apple & ham, smoked salmon & cream

(adapted from here)

200g bread flour
50g oats bran
3g instant dried yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
170ml warm water

Boiling the bagels - about 2L water + 2 tbsp sugar

Some egg whites - for brushing

1) Mix the bread flour, oats bran, yeast, sugar, salt and water together.  Knead to form a smooth and elastic dough.  Place the dough in a lightly-oiled bowl.  Cover and leave it to proof, about an hour, till it doubled in size.

2) Divide the dough into 4 - 6 portions (I divided into 6 portions for smaller bagels for breakfast).  To shape them, either (i) roll the dough into long strips and curl the dough around your hands to form a round disc or (ii) roll the dough into a ball, use your finger to poke a hole in the centre and  rotate the dough to get a round even disc.  

3) Place the bagels on baking paper and cover to let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes. 

4) Meanwhile, bring the water to boil and add in the sugar.  Carefully drop the bagels (one at a time) into the boiling water.  Do not overcrowd the pot (I boiled 3 bagels each batch).  Boil the bagels for 20 seconds to a minute, then flip them over for another 20 seconds to a minute.  Remove with a slotted spoon and place them on the baking paper.

5) Brush the bagel with egg whites, sprinkle some sesame seeds over and bake them in preheated oven of 190C for about 25 minutes, or till golden brown.

I am not very satisfied with these bagels.  Appearance - they look too dull and lack the smooth and shiny crust.  Taste - I find them too dense and chewy (I boiled them for a minute on each side).  I shall attempt another two more recipes next round:

a) Blueberry bagels from Kitchen Corner - used milk instead of water and added a tiny amount of butter in the kneading of dough.

b) Bagels from The Fresh Loaf - used sponge dough method that requires leaving the dough in the refrigerator overnight.

Despite this not-very-successful attempt on bagel making, I would like to share my findings with Aspiring Bakers #8: Bread Seduction (June 2011)hosted by Jasmine of Sweetylicious.  Hopefully, the more experienced bakers will share with me their tips on making bagels, while those who have never attempted making bagels will be keen to find out more.

1 comment:

  1. What a beatiful bagels you have there. Bagels are popular here and they sell it everywhere. People like to have it with cream cheese.


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