Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bagels, Mark II

They're back. Chewier, seedier and shinier than before. They've got poppy, sesame, kala jeera, cumin, nigella, garlic, and fennel pollen. Not all on the same bagel, though. That would be overkill.

This time, more proofing, more gluten, less water for better chew. Not so much gluten that it's like chewing on a rubber band, but enough to know that these are bagels, not dinner rolls.

The stiffer, higher gluten formula also allows rolling longer spindles which in turn make bigger holes. Unlike donuts, bagels are rolled then joined, so they never had anything in the center. Just air.

This time, the formula went like this:

SAF yeast: 0.6%
Water: 55%
Kosher or sea salt: 1.9%
Vegetable oil: 3.8%
Dry malt: 2.5%
Bread flour: 100%
Vita-wheat gluten flour 5%

This is a baker's formula, where the flour is always 100% and the other ingredients are in relation to it. In other words, if you had 1 lb (or 500 g) of flour you would just do the math to figure out the other ingredients based on their ratio to the flour. Yeah, that can sound a bit like rocket science, but it's not. Just a day in the life of a baker, actually.

Adding more of the gluten flour will increase chewiness, but reduce workability. Use this flour pure and you'll have something very similar to a ball of rubber that will probably end up in the trash. The idea is to find the perfect level of chewiness. These bagels could be a bit more chewy, so maybe 8% next time?

Once you have the dough, let it proof for at least an hour. This batch proofed around five hours at 65°F - but 18 hours at 50° would probably work, too.

Once proofed, the dough gets cut into 3 - 1/2 ounce portions, then rolled into spindle shapes. Cross the ends over each other and roll to seal using three fingers.

The now-bagel shaped objects proof another 15-20 minutes, while you put some baking soda into a large quantity of water and bring it to a boil. This is also a good time to heat your oven to 425°F.

The bagels go in the boiling water. This time, they sank and then rose to the surface. Too dense and they'll stay on the bottom; less dense and they'll float from the beginning. They just stay there long enough to puff up a bit, then out to drain.

Once boiled, they're placed on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and dusted with whatever kinds of seeds or toppings you like, then off to the oven. In about 15-20 minutes, they'll be browned and ready to come out.

The nice thing is that, despite the seemingly complicated steps, bagels aren't that hard to make, and they're a lot quicker to produce than artisan bread... unless you want to mix techniques. But that will be another subject entirely.

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