For the last three months or so I’ve been trying to make bagels that taste good, replicate the texture and chew of those of my long-lost youth, and look pretty much like a bagel should. Go back a few posts and you’ll see one that looks like it came from the croissant factory. Not good.
But now, I think I’ve got it:
These are sourdough bagels, no yeast at all. They have just a little bit of tang that balances the malt in the recipe, and best of all, they are as chewy as the bagels I teethed on as an infant during the first Eisenhower administration. Really chewy.
In fact, it’s said that when teething I gnawed on a single bagel for a month, which would say as much about parenting in the ’50s as it does about the bagels, but my family is known to exaggerate.
These bagels came not from the excellent yeast recipe at Sally’s Baking Addiction I used earlier, but from baked-theblog.com, and you can find it here: https://www.baked-theblog.com/new-york-style-sourdough-bagels-with-roasted-garlic-labneh/. If you’re not a sourdough person by all means use Sally’s recipe.
Because I can’t stand not tinkering with stuff, I do have a couple of tweaks to the baked-theblog recipe:
- The only tricky part with your sourdough starter is making sure it’s quite active when you’re ready to use it. For me, that would be four to six hours after feeding it. But it can work well if you feed it the day before, let it sit out until it perks up, then refrigerate it until the next day. At worst, you’ll have to let the shaped bagels proof for a longer time, up to four hours after shaping them.
- The recipe also calls for all-purpose flour. I think the bagels are better with bread flour, which is higher in protein but these days may not be so easy to come by. I used Heckers all-purpose flour, which is 11.5 percent protein, and replaced 40 grams of flour with 40 grams of vital wheat gluten, which is available online and in some groceries. This brought the protein content up to nearly 15 percent, and made the bagels teething-worthy.
- Finally, the recipe equates 750 grams of flour to five cups. A cup of flour weighs 120-125 grams, so if you use cup measure instead of weight, by the spoon-and-sweep method you’ll probably get closer to six cups before you hit 750 grams. I say that when it comes to flour, it’s best to have a kitchen scale and measure by weight.
Still, I think that even if you use the recipe exactly as written you’ll come out with very satisfying bagels. Do remember that it’s a two-day process but I found that it works on whatever schedule I have.
This recipe makes the heaviest, stiffest dough I’ve ever seen. Your stand mixer will struggle, and might give up entirely. Kneading by hand will make today’s trip to the gym unnecessary.
In the end, there are a few steps but not all that much effort. And even though one can buy a pretty good bagel where we live, I can now say that mine taste better and look just about as good.
They are, at last, the bagels of my dreams.