Baking bread from scratch may seem like a daunting task, especially the thought of making bagels. Call me crazy, but I find it totally fulfilling in every way. By working with the simplest of ingredients, flour and water, and adding a living organism, yeast, you can watch it bubble and rise into the freshest homemade bread. It’s not that I make bagels often as it does involve a two-day process and a commitment of time. So when I do commit to making bagels, it’s normally on a weekend. Saturday involves the major part of the process and I busy myself with catching up on other things while the dough rises and rests. Sunday is the fun day, waking up to boil and bake those gorgeous bagels!!
Pumpkin, of course, is just fitting for this time of year and probably not a surprise to anyone who knows me that I’d be adding pumpkin to my bagel recipe! For baking breads I follow Peter Reinhart’s recipes from Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread. His bagel recipe does not include pumpkin so I tweaked it a bit to make it work. I also added in vital wheat gluten, which is optional but I learned this from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day that whole wheat flour needs to have extra gluten added.
Being prepared, taking it one step at a time and using a stand up mixer with a dough hook will make the process easy and the end result…fresh from the oven bagels!! I did a quick calorie calculation on these as we all know bagels are not low in calories. But by making 16 bagels out of this recipe, the calories came in at 220 per bagel. Plus there is no fat, 4 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein! Not so bad for a bagel! As shown in the photo, I made a pumpkin hummus spread to top on the bagels, basically adding about ¾ cup of pumpkin puree to my basic hummus recipe.
The bagels freeze well so when my daughter finally comes home to visit for Thanksgiving, I will have pumpkin bagels for her!!
Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, kosher salt optional for sprinkling on top
To make the sponge: Stir the yeast into the flour and vital wheat gluten in a 4 quart mixing bowl. Add the water, whisking only until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (like pancake batter). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 2 hours or until mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly and double in size.
To make the dough: Using a stand up mixer to knead the dough, dump the sponge and the additional yeast into the large mixing bowl. If making by hand, add yeast to the same bowl containing the sponge. Stir yeast into the sponge. Add 3 cups of the flour, the vital wheat gluten, pumpkin, spices and malt syrup. Mix on low-speed with the dough hook or stir by hand until the ingredients form a ball, slowly working in the additional cup of flour. Transfer the dough to the counter and knead by hand for 10 minutes or continue kneading with the dough hook for about 6 minutes. The dough should be firm but still pliable and not tacky or sticky. If the dough seems tacky or sticky add a bit more flour.
Shape the dough into a large ball and cut in quarters. Cut each quarter into 4 so that you have 16 balls of dough. Place the balls of dough on a large baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Allow to rest for 20 minutes.
Line two sheet pans with slipat or parchment paper and lightly spray with oil. Shape the dough ball into a bagel by pressing your thumb in the center to form a whole and gently widen it with your hands to the shape of a bagel. Make sure the dough is evenly stretched. Place the bagels on
the sheet pans and lightly spray the tops with oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest for another 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, check the bagels to make sure they are ready to be refrigerated by dropping one bagel in a bowl of water. If it floats to the top within 10 seconds, they are ready to be refrigerated up to two days. If not, allow the bagels to rest another 10-20 minutes and test again.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees having two racks set in the middle of the oven. Prepare the baking sheets by spraying the slipat or parchment paper with oil and sprinkling on the cornmeal to prevent sticking. Bring a large wide pot of water to a boil and add the baking soda. Drop in only 1-2-3 bagels at a time that will fit the pot without crowding. They should float immediately. Boil for 1 minute and then flip over and boil the over side for 1 minute. For a chewier bagel, boil for 2 minutes each side. Using a slotted spoon, lift the bagels from the boiling water and place on the prepared baking sheets. If topping the bagels, so do as soon as they are taken out of the water and placed on the sheet.
When all the bagels have been boiled, place the sheets into the oven. Bake for approximately 5 minutes then rotate the pans, switching shelves and turning the pans. Reduce the oven to 450 degrees and bake another 5 minutes or until they turn a light golden brown or darker if you
Remove the pans from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving. Makes 16 bagels.
I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.