B is for Bagel...
A year ago for Christmas, my sister gave me bagel moulds (also known as witches` hats) and a recipe. Growing up in Switzerland with family in New York, bagels were always a treat, something we couldn't get here but would look forward to on trips to see family. Family coming over here would also bring us bagels in ziplock baggies, bringing a taste of New York to us for a few mornings after their arrival. And, aside from one woman who made homemade bagels that we bought occasionally, they were not available. Somehow, it never occurred to me to try making my own until my sister gave me those moulds last Christmas.
Since, I have tried a few different recipes and methods, getting better and nearer the mark with each attempt. The real trick seems to be the slow proof of the dough overnight in the fridge, and the boiling before baking. Having come up with a recipe that works, I have now enjoyed playing around with flavours. Changing what goes in the water to boil the proto-bagels as well as what goes in the dough is a fun way of altering them. I haven't come across cranberry and almond ones before but wanted to try the flavours together. They also seem particularly appropriate to the season!
2 c whole meal flour
2 1/4 c white flour
1 1/4 c water, body temp.
A pinch of sugar
1/2 cube yeast
1/2 tbsp salt
1 c dried cranberries
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tbsp malt extract
1) In a small saucepan, heat the water to about body temperature - it should be warm, but still cool enough that a (clean) pinky finger dipped in it is comfortable for 10 seconds. Dissolve the yeast in the water with the sugar and leave for a few minutes.
2) Combine flours and salt in a mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Add yeast and water and stir together, gradually incorporating flour from around the well. as the dough comes together, add the almond extract and knead on a clean, floured surface for about 10 minutes until the dough is homogenous and elastic. Towards the end, knead in the cranberries as you go.
3) Place in a clean bowl and leave to rise, covered, in a warm spot for an hour, or until doubled in size.
4) Knock back the dough and divide into 8 roughly even balls. Here you have two options. Either: roll into snakes, then join the ends of these to make rings
or: Roll into balls, then poke a thumb through the balls. With your thumb in the hole, gradually widen it, working the dough around so as to have an even, uniform thickness to the dough with a round hole in the middle.
5) Place rings on a baking tray sprinkled liberally with cornmeal, cover and place in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight to proof.
6) Remove the rings from the fridge. Fill a heavy-bottomed pot with water. Stir in molasses and malt extract. There should be enough molasses for the water to look like moderately strong tea. Place a test ring in the water. If it floats, you are ready to go. If not, dry if off and allow the bagels to come to room temperature.
7) When the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to bring the water to a simmer. A few at a time, poach the bagels for about half a minute on each side, then fish them out and drain on a wire rack.
8) Sprinkle the baking tray with fresh cornmeal, then place the drained bagels back on the tray and bake at 240°C for 15 - 20 minutes until golden.
These turned out well, with the right chewy, bagely texture. The flavour was a little plainer than I had hoped though, so I might try increasing the almond extract next time, as well as maybe putting flaked almonds on top. I may also try fresh cranberries instead of dried, but that might involve trading stronger flavour for altered moistness, so we'll see how that works out.
A good combo on the whole though, especially with cream cheese! (In B is for Bagel, Little Bit's alphabet book, X is for EXtra schmeer, never make it less!)