December 27, 2008


For 30 years my mom has been wanting to try out my grandmother's bagel recipe.  Ever since my stint at Big Apple Bagel in high school I've wanted to actually make some bagels instead of just turning them into delicious sandwiches.  Well, we finally got our chance.  My mom found my grandmother's bagel recipe, and after a fair amount of stress and whipping up a second batch using another recipe we ended up with A LOT of bagels.  Both recipes were good, and it was definitely a learning experience.  It wasn't as difficult as we thought it may be, and it was a pretty fun way to spend an afternoon.

Here's my grandma's bagel recipe:

3 cups room temperature water
2 tbsp dry yeast
2 tbsp salt
6 tbsp sugar
12 cups flour
Toppings of your choice

1. Dissolve yeast in water.  Add salt & sugar.
2. Add the flour to the water mixture.  Knead until smooth or beat in mixer with dough hook until smooth.  Dough will be pretty stiff.
3. Place dough in greased bowl, cover, and let stand for 15 minutes.
4. Punch dough into flat rectangle, about 1" thick.  Cut into 36-40 strips.  Wrap loosely around 3 fingers, and pinch off ends of dough.  Overlap end 3/4" and press together to form a ring.  Cover with towel and let rise 20 minutes.
5. Drop bagels one at a time into 1 gal. boiling water with 1 tbsp. sugar.  Simmer 4-5 minutes, turning occasionally, or until they float.  Remove, and cool on a towel.  
6. Dip in toppings of your choice.  Bake on greased baking sheet for 30-35 minutes at 400.  

Here's the yeast and the water.

This is the flour we used, in case you were wondering.  I'm sure you were.  

After the yeast is dissolved you combine it with the dry ingredients.  Things took a turn for the worse at this point.  Trying to knead the mixture by hand was a huge pain that was going nowhere fast.  The recipe says you'll have a very stiff dough, but this was beyond stiff.  It was a mass of dry, crumbly dough.  While my mom and I were trying to figure out what to do, my dad walked through the kitchen and informed us that his mom always used her KitchenAid to mix the dough.  That would have been helpful about 15 minutes earlier, and my arms would have been a lot less sore the next day.  

So we tried the mixer method.  And when the first mixer began to smell like burning we tried another mixer.  And not much changed, so we went back to the old fashioned way and used our hands.  Or I used my hands while my mom looked up another recipe and started making that.   Ye of little faith.

After the dough was combined and pretty smooth it was left to rise for 15 minutes.  It didn't really rise, but it did sit there for 15 minutes.  

Then I flattened the dough until it was about an inch thick.  

I sliced a bunch of strips, and made them into rings.  In hindsight I should have made the holes smaller, especially if they'll be used for sandwiches.  

Then comes the simmering.  My grandma's recipe said to simmer for 4-5 minutes, but the other recipe we tried said to simmer them for 7-8.  I'm not sure which is preferable.  I'll leave that up to you.   Here's my pretzel simmering:

Bagel eyes!  I should make up a superhero named Bagel Eyes.  Unfortunately I know that whatever the heroic powers may be, they will not compare with those of Bacon Boy.  It takes a superhero like Bacon Boy to shoot bacon grease from his arms and corn dogs from his eyes.  

Here's the post-boil pretzel bagel.  

My mom did a much better job of slicing her batch.  

After the bagels have been boiled and cooled so you can pick them up, dip them in whatever toppings you want.  Or throw some cheese on them.  We used poppy seeds, sesame seeds, caraway seeds, and asiago cheese.  There were also a few everything ones I made with poppy, sesame, garlic, and salt.  

And once they come out of the oven you'll have something a little like this.  Can you tell I was really proud of my pretzel?

Here's more of the first batch.  I made a figure 8, too.  You're probably amazed by my creativity.  So am I. 

If you want to get really crazy, you can send bagel messages to your boyfriend who isn't there to be part of the bagel fun.  Oh yeah, we made a few cinnamon & sugar bagels, too. 

Here's the majority of the final product.  They were pretty good, although there is definitely room for improvement.  The next time I do this I plan on doing all of the kneading with my KitchenAid.  My mom ended up doing that for the second batch, and it was much more effective.  I would also make them with smaller holes so they're better for sandwiches.  

My dad was pretty impressed with the final product and made these two good looking sandwiches. 

Here is my reward for all of my hard work.

Another tip - if your bagels are too tough, you can turn them into bagel chips!  Thinly slice them, brush them with olive oil, sprinkle with herbs/spices/whatever, and bake them at 450 for about 5 minutes.  

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