1. Molly Stevens' book about braising, which I'd requested from the library, oh, six months ago, was finally released to me this week. (Granted, in June hot June, so the idea of braising seems entirely perverted at this moment, but still! I can ogle the book and that's enough.)
2. My CSA started deliveries again, so I now have bok choy, mizuna (help, readers, help!) and summer savory sitting in my fridge. Red sails lettuce was my dinner last night. Do you belong to a CSA yet? Get cracking! (Last night I heard talk of some mythical-sounding CSA not far from here that not only delivers vegetables, but fruit and yogurt and honey, too! I'm on the case.)
3. I made bagels.
Yes! You heard that correctly! You might ask yourself what on earth could possess a self-respecting New Yorker like myself to make her own bagels, when she has plenty of worthy, nay, superior specimens all around her. And I would answer, this blog, that's what. I mean, what kind of question is that, anyway?
Susan LaTempa discovered these unboiled bagels in California while I was away, making me as intrigued as she was. After all, I've always wanted to make my own bagels, but the aforementioned ubiquity of good ones here and the fact that making your own involves boiling and baking and malt syrup and god knows what else just discouraged me in the end.
But not this time.
I brought home a sack of Gold Medal's new Harvest King flour (endorsed on the back by none other than Rose Levy Beranbaum), pulled my instant yeast out of the fridge (I'll be honest, since No-Knead, it's been sitting rather dormant there), stuck the dough blade into my food processor, and got to work.
My first observation? This recipe makes what seems like an enormous amount of dough. If you've got a stand mixer, bless your heart, then use it. My Robot Coupe is a hardy fellow and managed with the dough, but I'll admit we had a few dicey moments. With stalled motors and funny smells and other frightening stuff.
My second observation? Making bagels is easy, folks. Really. You bang the dough together in a matter of minutes, let it rise (and, oh, does it rise. I love instant yeast), punch it down (best part of the process, really) and form it into bagels. That's it! I picked up my farm loot and caught up on Big Love in the process.
And as for the results, I was pleasantly surprised. The bagels have an appealing chew to them, a nice crunchy bottom and a good crumb. They don't have the heft of traditional boiled bagels and lack that toasty flavor that only malt can supply, but they are pretty delicious for what they are. Plus, they'll impress the heck out of most people you'll serve them to. Spread with cream cheese or a little butter, they might even comfort a homesick New Yorker, stuck in foreign lands.
I'll be spreading mine with my mother's sour cherry jam - my own Italian-American version of breakfast this morning.
(Oh, and don't forget the poppy or sesame seeds - sprinkle them on after the egg wash. I wish I had.)
Makes 12 bagels
6 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 1/4 pounds (between 7 1/2 and 9 cups) bread flour, divided, plus additional if needed to work with dough
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1. In as stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine 3 cups water with the sugar, vegetable oil and 3 cups of the flour. Mix it at low speed until combined.
2. Add the yeast and another 3 cups flour and continue to knead the dough at low speed until all of the flour has been incorporated.
3. Add the salt and the remaining flour. Knead the dough at medium speed until it's soft and smooth and it comes away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough is sticky add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time, until smooth and no longer sticky.
4. Roll the dough into a ball. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a lightweight cloth or loosely with plastic wrap. Leave the dough for about 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on room temperature, until it doubles in volume.
5. Punch down the dough. On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into 12 even balls. (If dough is reverting when shaping, let it rest for a minute and start the process again.) To keep the dough from drying out, place a damp towel on top.
6. Roll each ball to about 15 inches in length. Press and roll the ends together to form a bagel.
7. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Place 4 to 6 bagels on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, leaving 1 to 1 1/2 inches between each bagel as they will spread. Cover the bagels with a cloth. Allow them to grow by half again in size, about 15 minutes. They should be light and fluffy. Widen the holes in the bagels to 1 1/2 inches each, as they will shrink while baking.
8. In a small bowl, beat the eggs, then brush bagels with the egg wash. Bake until golden, about 20 to 22 minutes.