We've had multiple snow days and late starts and cozy winter house time this week, so of course, we turned to the kitchen and baking projects. I'll do the recipe for homemade New York style bagels, and in a future feature, Piper will blog is about her favorite go-to dessert, meringues.
CHANDRA--HOME MADE BAGELS
In our old island life, we used to bake fresh bagels several times a week You can read a bit about our our island baking days here, but here is the recipe in case you want to bring fresh baked bagels to your own winter snow day:
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups warm water (possibly more)
3 ½ cups all purpose flour (plus extra for kneading surface)
1 ½ teaspoons salt
MAKES: 8 jumbo bagels
TIME: About two hours
STEP 1. Dissolve the sugar and yeast in 1/3 cup of warm water. I turn on the tap as hot as I can, but not to boiling. You don't want to kill the yeast, only activate it. Don't stir, just let it sit until the yeast and sugar bubbles. After 5 minutes, stir the yeast and sugar mixture, until it all dissolves in the water.
STEP 2. Place flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in these dry ingredients and pour in the dissolved water yeast and sugar mixture. Add about 1/3 cup of the remaining warm water into the well. Mix and stir in the rest of the water as needed. Depending on where you are baking this, you may need to add anywhere from a couple tablespoons to about ¼ cup more of water. In the islands, we didn't need this. On a dry winter day in the northeast, we do. You want a moist, firm, responsive dough after you have mixed it. I mix it with clean, bare hands, but I suppose you could also do a bread hook?
STEP 3. On a floured countertop, knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. This was our favorite part! I used to divide the dough into four equal parts, and give each child their own dough ball. Then we watched a clock, and each worked our own dough ball for two minutes. I'd call PASS and we passed left, so that all the dough balls benefitted from each person's own style of kneading. During this time, we work in as much flour to our own dough balls as possible to form a firm, stretchy dough.
(Above: An old photo of our Utila bagel kneading sessions, 2012)
STEP 4. Smear the inside of a large bowl with butter and turn the dough in it to coat. Cover the bowl with a damp dish towel. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in size. This used to only take us 30 minutes on the sunny back porch in Utila. Here, it is closer to an hour, maybe more.
(Above: this little visitor to our back porch frequently knocked my rising dough over)
(Above, making coffee while I waited for the dough to rise in Utila)
STEP 5. Punch the dough down, and let it rest for another 10 minutes. Start a large pasta pot of water boiling on the stove. These are proper New York style bagels--chewy and soft!
STEP 6. Pull off a bagel-sized portion of the dough. The technique for forming them is my favorite part of the process. You make your hand into a C, curling your thumb and forefingers separate. When you shape the dough with the curve of your hand, you don't exert pressure down--you're not rolling it like a cookie-- you are letting its natural elasticity and rise "puff" it into a ball in the curve of your hand.
STEP 7. Insert a tow floured pointer fingers into the center of the dough, and spiral your fingers until you have made a circle. Make this larger than you think it needs to be--it will shrink in boiling and baking.
STEP 8. Drop your bagels into the salted, boiling water. When they bob to the surface, they're done. Remove with a slotted spoon and put them on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
STEP 9. BAKE at 375 F for about 10-15 minutes. Our oven is terribly imprecise, so whatever works for you and yours.
EAT IMMEDIATELY! Preferably slathered in butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.