Monday, May 25, 2009

Bread Baker's Apprentice #3-Bagels

This is the third week of the challenge started by Nicole at Pinch my salt. We are baking through Peter Reinhart's book The Bread Baker's Apprentice. We are going in alphabetical order because that is how the recipes are organized, and we are not publishing the recipes not to break any copyright laws. This book is a treasure of information, techniques, and stories on the different breads so if you are into bread or would like to start somewhere this is a great book to start The amazingly prolific Peter Reinhart is coming out with another book this fall and I am looking forward to buying it.

This recipe was so much fun to make! I was totally intimidated before trying it, as bagels were not in my list of things that I wanted to try in the near future but I am sooo glad I joined this challenge, I needed a little push, and boy, was it worth it. I don't know why I was so scared, bagels are not that complicated.

Peter Reinhart is the guru of bread, his books are so informative, and the recipes very well written, they just make themselves if you follow the directions AND read the opening chapters. This recipe was no different, straight forward, very detailed, and so tasty. What I love about the Bread Baker's Apprentice is the amount of information on each bread and the detailed instructions on how to make each recipe. Thank you Peter for another keeper recipe.

The recipe starts with a sponge left to rise for 2 hours. When the sponge is ready the rest of the ingredients are added, including malt, a critical ingredients in making bagels, which in the active or diastatic form improves the taste of bagel by enzymatically releasing "flavors trapped in the flour". Peter gives suggestions on what to use if you cannot find malt, so nothing is lost, maybe depth of flavor. According to BBA, uncooked powdered malt is the first choice, but since I already had malt syrup I didn't bother buying more ingredients or trying to find powdered malt. The jar doesn't say whether the malt syrup was cooked or not, but by the deep brown color I suspect it was.

PR highly recommends using high gluten flour for the best texture, but again, I was lazy and used the bread flour I already had. I will try them again with HGF I can buy in bulk at a local store.

The dough is much stiffer than regular bread and took a while to pass the windowpane test and had to be hand kneaded for a while. The dough is portioned and rolled immediately. After 20 minutes the little balls are shaped either by making a hole in the center of by rolling into ropes and then sealing the ends. I shaped them by making a hole in the center and it worked out really well.

The next step was what took the most because my house was cold. The shaped pieces are left to rise 20 minutes and tested in water to see whether they float (which correlates to the yeast having been activated and making CO2). Mine took at least 45 minutes and I ended up putting the trays in the sun for few minutes because I had to leave the house!

The bagels are retarded in the fridge overnight, which works great to improve the flavor and you can have fresh bagels he next morning. The boiling and baking were straightforward except that the bagels took longer to bake than the book said.

The end product was really flavorful, beautiful to look at, and worth the effort. Next time I will try to boil them less as they were a little chewy, and boiling too long is probably the culprit according to BBA.


susies1955 said...

They look great. Wonderful write up.

Cindy said...

Your bagels look great. Loved your detailed post. I learned something new (why we do the float test0 so thanks!

oggi said...

The bagels look perfect and I love the color. Can't wait to see your brioche!:)

peteeatemall said...

They look great! I loved making the bagels even in the outdoor kitchen! Now to Brioche!

Nico said...

a true beauty, congrats.


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