Sunday, March 7, 2010

Homemade Bagels with Lox Cream Cheese

I know I haven't updated in a while, I've been quite busy of late but the bagels I mentioned in the previous post were a great success! More so than I expected. I followed a really simple recipe found here for water boiled bagels and I made 3 batches which equals to 24 bagels. They were sooo easy to make and tasted just like bakery or Montreal bagels. I'll write down a quick run through on how to make the bagels, but definitely check out the link for more info.

Homemade Bagels

4 cups of flour (use what ever kind, it all depends on what kind of bagel you want)
1 tbs of sugar
1 1/2 tsp of salt
2 tsp of instant yeast
1 tbs of oil, vegetable or olive 
1 1/4 cup to 1 1/2 cup of warm water

In a large bowl, mix all of your dry ingredients together. Then fill a measuring cup with 1 1/2 cups of warm water; make sure the water is warm, more so than room temperature as it needs to be hot enough to dissolve the yeast. Add your vegetable oil to the dry ingredients and immediately add 1 cup of your water. Then begin to mix until you have a dough-like consistency. If there is still a lot of flour that hasn't mixed, add more water. You want to make sure that it is all incorporated and that your dough is slightly on the stiff side but not too sticky. 

Next you need to kneed the dough. A lot of people call this the hard part, but it's actually quite easy if you have an idea of what you are doing. There's a great video tutorial here that I found quite handy.

Kneed for about 10 minutes, then separate your dough into 8 equals balls. Let rise for about 10 minutes and preheat your oven to 425 F. 
Now there are two ways of shaping bagels, I recommend trying both and using the one that you feel more comfortable with.

The first method involves rolling out the dough ball into a long snake, about the width of your two hands, and connecting the two ends by pinching the dough together to fuse it into a bagel-like shape. 
The second method is my favourite as I find it a lot easier and I don't have to worry about the ends coming loose. To do this, you take the dough ball and press your thumb through the middle until it goes through to the other side. Then simply stretch out the hole and shape. Your bagel should be about as big as your hand.  
Now you need to let them rise for about 20 minutes; during this time you should boil your water. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Some people add about a tsp of sugar or salt to their water, others put baking soda, as it apparently darkens the outside of the bagel. I did none of these and they turn out awesome all the same. 

Once your water has started to boil, it should be about time to start boiling those bagels! I put in two at a time as I didn't have a very large pot and you need to make sure that you don't crowd the bagels. Drop two into the water and wait for about a minute and then turn them over and boil for another minute. You'll notice that your bagels will puff out a bit, that’s all normal.
Take the bagels out of the water with a slotted spoon or even an egg flipper, and place onto a cooling rack so that they can dry off a bit. Add the rest of your bagels in and repeat the process. 
Now it's time for the final cooking stage, but before that, you need to decide if you want to flavour your bagels. 

Bagels are fun because you can flavour them anyway you like and there are hundreds of possibilities. You can add coarse ground salt, herbs, cheese, poppy seeds! Just let your imagination soar, but remember that if you want a bagel that's flavoured on the inside like a cinnamon raison bagel, those ingredients need to be added to your dry ingredients before you add your warm water and begin to make your dough.

So for these batches, I decided to make mine: plain, sesame, poppy seed and cheese coated. An easy way to get your ingredients to stick to your bagels is to crack an egg into a bowl and whisk it. Then spread some of the egg wash onto your bagels (have your toppings ready in a bowl) and place the bagel, egg wash side down, into the bowl. This will ensure a nice even coat of seeds. Another way is to put the bagel into a bowl of topping as soon as you take it out of the boiling water, but I don't find this as effective.

Once you've covered all of your bagels with your desired toppings, place them topping side up on a lightly greased baking sheet. Use olive oil to grease it and don't forget to add a bit of egg wash onto the top of your plain bagels as it gives them a nice brown finish. 
Put them into the oven for about 10 minutes, then turn them over and bake for another 10 minutes. Voila! You've got bagels!
If you want cheese bagels, I came up with an easy way to go about making them. First grate your cheese, use whatever kind you prefer, I used a strong cheddar. Now for these, we need to go back a few steps to when you take them out of the boiling water. Once they've cooled slightly, coat with your egg wash and cook in the oven as those they were plain bagels. Once cooked, take them out of the over and let them cool for a few minutes. Spread more egg wash onto your bagels then add the shredded cheese on top and lightly press down so that it sticks. Put your oven on broil and put the bagels back into the oven, cheese side up and let them broil for about 4 minutes or until your cheese has fully melted and is beginning to brown slightly. Take them out of the oven and like any bagels, let them cool for about 20 minutes before eating. 
Enjoy with some butter, honey or some cream cheese!
I made my own lox cream cheese, which is very simple to make. It's essentially plain cream cheese, mixed with red onions and smoked salmon. I didn't have any red onions so I just used green onions but man was it good! Just make sure your cream cheese is room temperature or you might have a hard time mixing it all together.
Don’t be scared make your own bagels; you’ll have a nice healthy and delicious breakfast ready to go in the morning. Just remember to put them in the fridge after a couple of days or they will start to rot, as there are no preservatives. You can also cut them and put them in the freezer, that way you can have bagels whenever you want.
Hope you enjoy!


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