I have a long history with bagels. They were my favorite breakfast food for many years. A sliced, toasted and buttered bagel is still a food that makes me irrationally happy. As I mentioned before, I grew up on the East Coast, in the New England region (more or less) which has some serious bagel pride. There are a few bagel places here on the West Coast that manage to stand up to the East Coast bagel. It has to do with having the “skin” on the outside of the bagel, but they are far and few between. Most bagels baked here on the West Coast are not boiled and thus are soft as an baked good without the necessary bite and chewiness of a true bagel.
Over two years ago I tried making bagels. It was a tragic, tragic affair. My recipe called for High Gluten flour, which I learned, is different from bread flour which has far more gluten than AP flour.
I bought a bag of this High Gluten flour. Then while I was making the bagels, my flour ran out. Not by much, about a cup. So in desperation I used bread flour…it’s gluten-y, right?
All was not well with this dough. It was strong enough for sure. My mixer was having a hard time with it. But when I added the bagels to the pot of boiling water, I watched in horror as they began to expand. I was only able to fit about 3 bagels on each full sized cookie sheet. Still optimistic, I slid the pan in the oven and went about my business until the timer went off. When I opened the oven door, I screamed. It looked like there were little tiny brown animals crouched on the pan!
I tried eating them and frankly, they didn’t taste very good, not even when covered in pizza toppings. Finally I gave up on them as food and took the remainders out to my in-laws where we used them for target practice. Sigh.
So it has taken me two years to get up the courage to try making bagels again. This time I used a different recipe, from the Wednesday Chef. I used AP flour and I used honey because while I have barley malt powder I’m not sure how to make that into syrup.
They were really chewy. Next time I think I will try the recipe with bread flour and see about making the barley malt powder into syrup. I will just take little baby steps toward my ideal bagel.