Bagels


Bagels are one of the many specific things that I have cravings for. I have never actually had a bagel before I came to New York City. My first encounter with bagels were in the dining hall, where they mostly looked quite unappetizing. However, bagels have grown on me since then, and my favorite varieties include pumpernickel and poppy seed. (Did you know poppy seed is contraband in Singapore?) As with any baked item that I like to eat, I like trying to replicate them too. To be honest, this is probably the best picture of the bagels I took. The rest are not quite as pretty:

Craggy, and malformed by the cooling rack and my use of chopsticks to lift the bagels instead of a slatted spoon. Sigh. I thought I could do it Chinese-style like so:

This is Hum Jin Peng, or 咸煎饼. It’s like a donut with red bean filling or five spice flavoring.

But obviously that didn’t bode so well for the soft dough. This batch was actually my second attempt. In my first attempt, I used half whole wheat flour and my dough did not rise at all. I ended up with a slab of tough, unusable dough that I made into “flatbread” and spread some dulce de leche on, but it was otherwise the most unappetizing failure I’ve ever made.

Fortunately, despite the looks of this batch, they actually came out pretty well. They were chewy and had a nice crust, and definitely went very well with my smoked salmon. You might notice my lack of cream cheese, but I am generally averse to slathering fat — fat that I can see — onto my food, but I am perfectly happy with eating cake when I can’t see the stick of butter that went into the frosting.

Bagels
Makes 6 3-inch wide bagels
Adapted from Allrecipes

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
3/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon white sugar

Directions:
1. In large bowl, combine 3/4 cups flour and yeast. Mix water, tablespoons sugar and salt together, and add to the dry ingredients. Beat with a mixer for half a minute at a low speed, scraping the sides of the bowl clean. Beat at a higher speed for 3 minutes. Then, by hand, mix in enough flour to make a moderately stiff dough.
2. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (12-15 minutes). Cover, let rest for 15 minutes.
3. Cut into 6 portions, shape into smooth balls. Poke a hole in the center with your finger, and gently enlarge the hole while working the bagel into a uniform shape. Cover, let rise 30 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, start a gallon of water boiling. Put 1/2 tablespoon of sugar in it, mix it around a bit. Reduce to simmering.
5. When the bagels are ready, put 4 or 5 bagels into the water, and cook 7 minutes, turning once. Drain them. Place on a greased baking sheet, and bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven, eat hot or cold.

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