Bagels... Bageljacks... Bagelcakes.. Bageldiscs..
|Hey Hey! It's that time of the month again.. The Daring Baker June Challenge post! WOO! Have you missed us??|
Ya'll might guess from the subject of this post, that this month's DB challenge didn't go so swell for me. Imagine that, eh?
Before I get into this kitchen disaster, I want to stress to ya'll that this was NOT the recipe's fault (meaning this recipe is NOT possessed by Beelzebub).. this recipe, when executed properly, will give you big beautiful bagels. And the best tasting bagels you've ever had. Even when you totally screw up, your bagels will still be so flavorful! Flat as pancakes.. but still wayyyyy yummy! ;)
This particular kitchen disaster did not come with exploding batter, aliens invading my kitchen, or a need to start drinking heavily half way through.. I believe this is a good recipe - an excellent recipe actually.. especially if you are a more advanced baker with lots of experience in using yeast and working with dough. BUT, for someone like myself who is not at all familiar with making bread or other yeast doughs, I believe it's a recipe that you really need to make twice. Once to make all your mistakes and take notes.. and the second time to produce amazing bagels. I'd call this recipe and excellent "teaching" recipe. Seriously, I learned A LOT about yeast and dough this month. And that's what it's all about, eh? =) I haven't made my 2nd batch yet - but I will, you can be assured. And I am confident that my next batch will be perfect.
This month's challenge was hosted by our lovely, Jenny of All Things Edible, and the beautiful Freya of Writing At The Kitchen Table. They decided that June would be a month we step away from the sugar and dive right into the savory. Real Honest Jewish Purist's Bagels is the recipe they chose and a fine recipe and choice it was. I was tickled when I saw what we'd be making because I am so afraid of working with yeast. My only experience with it is my Auntie's pizza dough, which I make a few times a year. So badly I want to be the kind of gal who makes her own bread items every week. There is NOTHING like fresh bread, is there? So yeah, the thought of working with yeast and having all the support the wonderful Daring Bakers give backing me up - I knew I'd at least get a lil closer to feeling comfortable working with yeast & dough.
And they did not disappoint! The support was amazing - thank you everyone!
No, my bagels did not turn out well in the looks department. They ended up being flat as pancakes and/or flapjacks and/or compact discs, etc. But like I said, they were the best tasting bagels I've ever had - and I've had a lot of bagels. I feel I know why mine did not turn out though.. and it's much more than my just being a moron. ha!
The recipe says and I'll quote here:
"Soon you should have a nice stiff dough. It will be quite elastic, but heavy and stiffer than a normal bread dough. Do not make it too dry, however... it should still give easily and stretch easily without tearing."
I obviously don't know what a normal bread dough feels like, so I kinda guessed.. meaning I stopped adding flour once the dough stopped being sticky.
Mistake No. 1
I should have kept incorporating the flour until I used up the whole 8 cups the recipe called for. Instead I think I stopped at around 6.5 - 7 cups. Ohhh it was flexible alright.. but not very heavy or stiff. In fact it was quite soft.
After you knead the dough you put it into a lightly greased bowl and allow it to double in size.. my pizza dough takes about an hour to double.. therefore I didn't even check my bagel dough until an hour had passed. Ooops! I should have realized that the FOUR TABLESPOONS of yeast might quicken that rise time just a tad.. as you can see, she not only doubled - but I believe she tripled and/or quadrupled. hahaha!
Mistake No. 2
Yes that is cat food/water bowls you see.. No she did not jump up on the dryer while the dough was rising - covered - because I was running the dryer, which scares the bejebus out of her. MUAHAHAA!
Check your dough after 20-30 minutes - don't let it rise too much.
After your dough doubles in size, you are to punch it down.. and where this recipe says "punch" it's not kidding. You really need to punch most of the air out of it.. this step was great in relieving some tension from a chaotic week at work. ;) After you punch it down, you divide it up into 15 (I got way more than 15) hunks o'dough, to which you will shape into bagels. There are two methods to shaping.. the first being the "dough-centric" method.. where you make a long cylindrical "snake" of dough and wrap it around your hand into a loop and then mash the ends together. The other is the "hole-centric" method, where you shape the dough into a rough sphere, then poke a hole through the middle with a finger and then pull at the dough around the hole to make the bagel.
I went with the "hole-centric" method. Although I do not feel this is a mistake, as it obviously works for many people, I think I would have been better off going the "snake" route as it would have helped to push out even more air.
'kay once that's done, you let them sit for about 10 minutes. They will begin to rise slightly. Ideally, they will rise by about one-fourth volume... a technique called "half-proofing" the dough. By the time I had finished shaping my last bagel, my first bagels had sat for closer to 15 minutes. They did not rise by 1/4th volume. They easily doubled in size.
Mistake No. 3
The next time I make these bagels, and I will, I will work with sections of the dough, keeping the unused dough in my fridge. I will only work with enough dough for about 4 bagels and I will shape them, let them sit for a few minutes and then throw them into their water "bath" to cook. I will not even touch the rest of the dough until those boiled bagels have been set on a clean towel to cool. Which brings me to -
Mistake No. 3A
Work in small batches (especially if you are baking these on a high humidity day) from the shaping to the boiling steps. Not only did my bagels "half proof" way longer than they should before hitting the boiling water, but they proofed MUCH TOO LONG after that as they were sitting there getting bigger and bigger on my counter waiting for their turn in the water.. Small batches, kids.. small batches.
Another thing to keep in mind is - once your bagels hit the boiling water, they should drop to the bottom of the pot and then slowly and "gracefully" (hee!) rise to the top. The recipe says if they do not sink and only float, you will get a more "bready" bagel. Mine were all floaters - and I don't know why that is.. maybe it's because I didn't get out enough air? I have no idea. But my bagels did not turn out more "bready" regardless. hehee
From the boiling water, you set them on clean towels and once they are cool enough to handle you transfer them to a cookie sheet that has been dusted with corn meal. It's at this point where you can add your toppings if you so desire. I desired. I made 1/2 doz. plain, then 3 sesame, 6 with sun-dried tomato, roasted garlic and fresh basil and 6 brushed with a pear/cinnamon jelly that I melted and topped with cinnamon sugar. (as if I could go all savory!)
Mistake No. 4
Only use toppings that won't burn to lil charcoal crisps. Sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil will turn into charred pieces of squickiness when baked on top of a bagel - next time, they'll go in the dough! (we weren't allowed to add anything to the bagel dough on our first batch, to keep them in check with the Real Honest Jewish Purist people, but we could go crazy on subsequent batches that I just didn't get to yet)
Behold! My bevy of Bageljacks! All crispy on the outside, chewy and warm on the inside - fresh from the oven.. SO GOOD.
Unfortunately, the next day they were so rubbery that I couldn't even pull a piece off to gnaw on. So I had to chuck them. Hubbs, the omniscient baking God (he can barely toast bread) said it was because I stored them in ziplock plastic bags over night and that I should have just left them out. I dunno, maybe he was right.. course I won't be admitting that to him anytime soon. *evil gril*
And so it is with mucho grande thanks to Jenny and Freya for hosting a fabulous challenge! And to all my fellow DB friends - your unwaning support is the ONLY THING that gets me through some of these challenges.. I thank you kindly. =)
'kay.. git! Go check out everyone else's posts! There are plenty to see - we keep growing bigger and better with each and every passing month!