This Sunday I had a mission, and that mission was bagel making. Bagels are controversial (start googling “Bagels are…” and you’ll see why), but have always been there when I needed them. In college if I didn’t have too much time for lunch I could grab a bagel from just about anywhere and be satisfied. These days if I’m feeling peckish I don’t have that option, so I decided to take matters into my own hands.
Although I can find bagels in most any grocery or bakery, a good bagel is hard to find around here. Sure, I can name twenty different places to get an amazing buttermilk biscuit (including, but not limited to, certain Cracker Barrel locations), but ask me where to get a bagel in this town and I wouldn’t know what to tell you. Grocery store bagels are often too gummy or full of scary ingredients. To the artisan bakeries in my Tennessee town adding bagels to their chalkboards, I say, “Try me.” Either you get a roll with a hole in it, or a giant cracker with a hole in it.
Being somewhat adept at bread making, I undertook this bagel-making challenge to great results. The bagels have a nicely crunchy exterior and a soft yet chewy interior. They are a perfect vessel for any condiment or topping you may prefer. They may not be perfectly round or even that pretty, but they certainly pair nicely with some cream cheese. Most importantly, they are what I have been lacking for so long!
Check these Instagram-worthy suckers out!
This recipe is the one I used, from the great King Arthur Flour. There are many different bagel recipes out there, but I found this one straightforward and relatively easy. If you are interested in any type of bread making, their website is an extensive resource with detailed instructions and an actually helpful comment section. If you have never made bread before, I promise it is not that hard. All you really need (besides ingredients) is a lazy weekend day with nothing on your plate. (Leave that plate empty for the bagels). If you don’t have a standing mixer, you can knead by hand quite easily and even get a little workout in! I made mine without toppings, but if you wanted to sprinkle some sesame or poppy seeds on there you can whisk up an egg white, paint (or drip depending on available utensil) it on, and sprinkle away!
One of the steps even includes twirling the dough around on your finger to make the bagel hole! If that doesn’t convince you to give bagel making a try, I don’t know what will.
An image of bagels immediately post-twirl, but pre-boil n’ bake.
Once you have made your bagels, you can’t just stare at them. You gotta eat them, and how you eat them is definitely important. How about the classic bagel and cream cheese? Maybe put some sprouts and cucumbers on top, or the obvious option of lox? Try hummus or pesto on a bagel! What about the crown jewel of bagels, the breakfast bagel? Make mine with a fried egg, bacon and American cheese (the only time American cheese is acceptable is breakfast sandwich time). They are even delicious toasted with only butter on top. Any way you have it, a good bagel is a good bagel, no questions asked.
Boiling the bagels in water with barley mallet syrup (you can sub brown sugar) and white sugar before baking helps create a crunchy exterior.
Post and Photos by Lucy Morel. Check out full recipe at kingarthurflour.com.