bagelsmain

It’s been great being back in Berlin, and much of my time has been spent catching up with friends over dinner. And on the nights that I do stay in, the cold, gloomy winter turns me into a couch potato, and I would much rather bundle up with a hot cup of tea and order delivery (which sucks here, by the way).

Needless to say, my kitchen hasn’t gotten much love recently. And I guess neither has my body, considering I ate out every day this past week. Sigh.

So I woke up this Saturday morning afternoon determined to take on a culinary challenge I’ve never attempted before – bagels.

There are two things I miss from home that I didn’t realize I missed so much until I actually visited California this past holiday break. Bagels and Easy Mac.

You can find bagels in some places around here, but none that are nearly as good as the ones in the States. And as for Easy Mac? I’m pretty sure it’s banned here because some of the sketchy chemical ingredients in the cheese sauce. And although that’s probably a good thing, I can’t help but be sad about it. There’s just something really good but really gross about Easy Mac that I can’t really explain. I guess you could say it’s equivalent to how I feel about Taco Bell.

Sigh, I miss Taco Bell too.

But for this lovely Saturday, bagels! Mmm dense, slightly chewy, aromatic bagels right out of the oven – such a delight. (And makes for a good excuse to eat copious amounts of cream cheese – which reminds me, I need to run to the market to buy a second tub).

Ingredients
3 ½ cups bread flour or high-gluten flour
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups warm water
1 ½ tsp of instant yeast
1 ½ tsp of granulated sugar
1 egg, beaten

1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast. Create a well in the center.

sugarflour

 

2. Pour in half of the warm water in the well, and slowly mix the mixture, gradually bringing in the dry ingredients as your stir.

3. Keep mixing until your dough has pretty much all came together into one large mass, adding a little bit of water gradually until you’ve reached your desired result – some bits at the bottom are fine.

4. Transfer your dough (including all the bits and crumbs from the bottom of the bowl) onto a clean, floured surface. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until the dough has become smooth, elastic and slightly tacky (not sticky). *Tip: Add a little bit of flour as you knead if you feel that your dough is sticking too much. As you knead, slowly work the flour into the dough until you’ve reached the desired consistency and texture.

5. Transfer the dough to a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel. Place this bowl somewhere warm and let it rest for 1 hour (or until doubled in size). Then, punch the dough down once in the center and cover and let rest for an additional 10 minutes. (This removes some of the gas bubbles formed by the yeast and produces a finer grain). *Tip: Cold inside? I set mine a little closer to the radiator because my apartment is freezing this winter. You could also try placing it in the oven, with the oven light on and the door closed.

6. After the dough has risen, it should feel light and pillowy. Divide it into 8 equal pieces. For each piece, gently roll against the countertop in a circular pattern with a slightly cupped hand, applying gentle pressure from the top until it has formed into a perfect and smooth (no cracks) sphere.

7. When you have 8 perfectly round dough balls, you can now make the little hole in the center of bagels that we all know and love. Lightly coating your index finger with some flour, poke your finger right through the center, and with your finger still inside, place the dough on your other palm and spin the dough ring between your thumb and index finger to make sure the dough is distributed evenly. Then, stretch gently until the bagel has reached about 3 inches in diameter.

bagel rings

 

8. After all the bagels have been shaped, line them on the cookie sheet, and cover again with a damp towel (paper towel works too) and rest for another 10 minutes.

9. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and gently place as many bagels as can comfortably fit in the pan without touching each other (usually just a 2-4, depending on your pot size). Boil each bagel for about 1 and a half minutes on each side. The dough should rise pretty much immediately after being dropped into the water.

boiledrings

 

10. Remove the bagels from the water with a slotted spatula or wire mesh strainer, gently tap off all excess water and place on a baking sheet (lightly oiled or on parchment paper).

11. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425°F / 220°C.

12. Lightly brush each of the bagels with an egg wash. Then, add whichever toppings you’d like! Go crazy. You can also go without toppings and just stop at the egg wash.

Below: fresh rosemary + thyme + garlic, sharp irish cheddar, minced garlic + fleur de sel (not pictured), and plain.

bakedbagels

 

13. Bake for 20 minutes (shifting the rack from top to bottom halfway through, rotating once), until golden-medium browned. Enjoy a lovely bagel-filled week!

creamcheesed

smokedsalmon

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