Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before. - Dalai Lama
We lived this quote this year. We returned from a 10 day trip from Florida a few days back and those were 10 beautiful days we spent with our dear friends in a new place. Tried new food, met new people, visited places which are dream-like and surreal. On one hand, there were prince and princess at Disney World, on the other hand we did the mind-blowing thrill rides at Universal Studios. We relaxed at beaches with clear pristine water, explored new trails, there was not a single moment of boredom.We created some beautiful memories that we will cherish for ever. Have you noticed that a lot of our memories revolve around food? The celebrations, the treats, the victories and even disappointments - all involve food. Beautiful food makes beautiful memories.
Life got too busy after the Florida trip. It was almost time for the start of a new school year. Buying school supplies, new clothes, oooh! the excitement and thrill of a new school year. In a few more days, we will have a fifth grader at home. And, I know the dining table and the kitchen counter will soon turn into homework station. Piles of books, papers, half-done projects, the unattended mails.... the list of things on dining table - endless. I don't mind that. In fact, I love it. I Love the chaos near my kitchen. The clutter, the mess, the complete disorder, makes my house feel like home. Makes it almost humane.
To be frank, dining table is not the only place that gets messy. The kitchen counter looks like a war zone most of the days (I am not proud of it, but I ain't a domestic goddess 😉 ). Well, I clear the kitchen counter - completely clear - only on two occasions - The first one is when we have guests come over and the second is when I bake bread or may be when I make Baklava.
And yes, I cleared my kitchen counter last Saturday (and let me tell you, the mess is back).
Let me grab a home made chocolate chip bagel and tell you all about it!
YES! The bagel is homemade!
And that was me
subtly telling you that this post is all about bagels.
I have joined a group of passionate bloggers/bakers called Baking Partners who challenge themselves to try something new every month. Swati, who blogs at Zesty South Indian Kitchen, coordinates all the activities for this group.
This month's baking challenge was bagels. My family loves bagels and Sonshine is a big fan of EinsteinBros chocolate chip bagel.
A bagel is a doughnut with the sin removed — George Rosenbaum
So, when the challenge given was Bagels, I did not have to think twice to decide what sort of bagel I was going to bake.
Last weekend was etched in my Sonshine's memory as the day mom-made-chocolate-chip-bagels. The day, the whole house was filled with delicious aroma of freshly baked bagels and biting into the freshest, crustiest and chewiest bagels ever (the crust was definitely crispier than what we buy from stores, but we L-O-V-E-D it!). A beautiful memory that Sonshine will cherish for a long time to come.
When I blog a recipe, I try it many times, use slightly different ingredients, measure the ingredients a few times, I even try out different ways of making it. When my family loves it, and says "Yes! this the one!", that is when it appears on the blog. But with this recipe, I did not have the privilege of trying it many times. But the recipe was perfect and I found a lot of websites that followed the same recipe and were raving about the end result.The recipe that we followed was by Peter Reinhert and this was pretty easy to follow - but let me warn you - there are quite a few steps to follow and baking bagels is a two day process. Apart from reading the recipe that Swati shared, I also researched at Peter Reinhert's blog and also at Epicurious where different options and alternatives for the ingredients are discussed. It is a pretty straight forward recipe and I will outline how I adapted the recipe to make chocolate chip bagels.
Baking fresh bagels at home is science, but not rocket science. If you follow the recipe, I promise you will get delicious bagels right at the comfort of your home. Apart from being "Science", I find baking therapeutic.
Baking is wonderful! It's like science for hungry people !
Trust me when I say, if I can make fresh bagels, you can do it too. Now, go grab that apron and get baking.
Baking bagels is a two day process - But don't worry, hands on time is very minimal as you will see.
The first day, we make the dough. I do not have a stand mixer to mix the dough. I use my hands to mix the dough. Though there are opinions about the difficulty in mixing the dough with hands, I think the years of experience making Chappati/Roti (Indian flat bread) dough at home, have given me muscular arms.
Once you mix the dough, let it rise for about an hour.
And I was not making just plain ol'd bagels, I was making the super special chocolate chip bagels.... In went the chocolate chip into the proofed dough.
Then I shaped them into bagels. And placed them on a greased tray.
The shaped bagels went into the refrigerator, to allow for slow and cold fermentation. That is it, you are done for day one.You are free to remove your apron, sit back and enjoy whatever you want to do for the next 8-10 hours.
It is day 2, the day on which you would actually bake the bagels. Get the tray out from the refrigerator. Now, there is a test that the bagels have to pass, in order to see whether they are ready to be baked - it is called the float test (you can read about the step in the recipe). Once the bagels pass the float test (if they don't, there is nothing to worry, transfer the bagel to the tray and proof it for another 20 minutes or so), we poach the bagels in water mixed with more fun stuff like honey, baking soda etc. Poaching the bagels in the water mixed with baking soda gives them the nicest brown color for the crust.
Once all the bagels are thus poached, it is time to bake them. Once they were out of the oven, I drenched them in some buttery love and let them cool on a wire rack.
The recipe yielded 6 delicious bagels, perfect for breakfast for the three of us for two days. The bagels were the best on the first day, fresh out of the oven. I did not even have to toast them to enjoy them.
The second day, they were chewier than on the first day. But no one complained.
Would I make this recipe again? Yes! no doubts about it. I would love to play with different toppings like poppy seeds, may be asiago cheese and to please Sonshine, I am planning cinnamon raisin bagels (with just a dash of cinnamon, the way he loves it). Oh, the possibilities are endless.
To be frank, there are some things I would do differently next time I make the bagels. Main change would be the way I shaped the bagels - I followed the "make-a-rope-and loop" method. But, I was not particularly happy with the shape of the bagels. Next time, I would make a ball out of the dough using moist cupped hands (no flour to be used) and then form a donut. I am assuming this would give me a better shape. I would also like to try using all purpose flour and also whole wheat flour and experiment with textures.
I referred to these websites to learn a little more about the process and ingredients. The recipe yielded 6 bagels which comfortable fit in my baking tray. If you are planning to make smaller bagels, then the following websites give you tips as to how to go about it. These links also give you tips on the different ingredients and the effect of using alternative ones. In the recipe section of my post, I have outlined the steps I followed and the ingredients I used to make chocolate chip bagels.
Till then, enjoy the freshest, chewiest, crustiest bagels, with cream cheese.
Chocolate Chip Bagels
Prepare and Shape the dough
- 1 tablesppon Honey
- 1.25 teaspoon Active dry yeast
- 1.5 teaspoon Salt
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoon lukewarm water about 95 degree Fahrenheit or 35 degree Celcius
- 3.5 cups 16oz/454grams Bread Flour (See Recipe Notes)
- ¼ cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips
- Oil to grease the parchment paper
Poaching and baking
- 2 to 3 Quarts Water
- 1.5 tablespoon Honey
- 1 tablespoon Baking Soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Black and Whilte Sesame seeds optional
- Melted Butter
- Big Bowl
- Small Bowls 2
- Flat Spatula optional, you can use this to gently lift the bagels from the tray to drop them into the poaching liquid
- Slotted Spoon
- Pastry Brush
- Baking Tray 2
- Parchment Paper
- 4 Quart pot
- Wire Rack
- Plastic Wrap
Prepare and shape the dough
- In a small bowl, mix honey, yeast, and salt into the lukewarm water. Since I used, active dry yeast, I waited for 5-10 minutes to prove the yeast.
- In a large bowl, add the bread flour and pour the proofed yeast mixture and mix well to form a stiff ball of dough.
- Let the dough rest for five minutes after which you can knead the dough into a soft dough. You would knead for about 3-4 minutes.
- Brush the bowl lightly with oil and place the kneaded dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl and let it rest for an hour at a warm place.
- After an hour, remove the dough from the bowl to your working surface and add the chocolate chips and knead gently to spread the chips evenly.
- Get a baking tray ready by lining it with parchment paper and lightly brushing it with oil.
- Divide the dough into 6 equal parts and shape each dough ball into a donut shape.
- Place the shaped bagel on the tray. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
- Brush the top of the bagels with oil.
- Cover the baking tray with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for at least 8-10 hours.
Poaching and Baking
- About 30 minutes prior to baking, place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit (or 260 degrees Celsius).
- Boil water in a big pot. Once the water boils, add honey, baking soda, and salt and let it simmer.
- Get a small bowl of water ready to test the bagels. remove the baking tray from the refrigerator. Gently lift one bagel from the tray and place it in the bowl of water. If the bagel floats to the top, your bagels are ready to be baked (see recipe notes).
- Once your bagels pass the float test, you are ready to cook the bagels. Gently lift the bagels from the tray and drop them in the simmering liquid. Add as many as you can that would comfortably fit in the pot. After a minute, flip the bagels using a slotted spoon. Cook for 30 seconds. Remove from the poaching liquid and place the bagel back in the tray. Sprinkle with toppings of your choice. Repeat with the rest of the bagels.
- Place the tray in the oven and bake for 5 minutes.
- Rotate the tray 180 degrees and reduce the oven temperature to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (232 degrees Celsius). Bake for another 8-12 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and brush generously with butter.
- Let the bagels cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing.