Tasty Tuesday – Bagels
We’ve been back to our home in Thailand for almost 2 weeks now, and you bet I’m right back at it in my little kitchen again! After a month back home (USA) eating all kinds of wonderful things, though not really preparing much of it myself, I was ready to be back in control. Don’t get me wrong, it was fabulous not having to sweat over my stove, run outside every time I needed to check the oven, or have to wash umpteen dishes in a teeny tiny sink… but, most of the time, I was at the mercy of whomever was providing the meal. If you’re like me, or if you’ve ever done any sort of extensive travelling, then you understand what I mean.
Strange as it may seem, I also noticed a difference in the way I felt while back in the States, from what I believe to be a difference in the amount of packaged, processed, and commercially prepared foods that I consumed – bagels, breads, jarred tomato sauce, instant meal helpers, packaged dips, crackers, chips, apple sauce, canned goods, etc. Even some of the fresh produce just tasted different. Now, not that there’s anything wrong with any of these things, or that they don’t taste good – but, after living in Thailand for a year and a half, where I’ve had to make most everything fresh and from scratch, my body just wasn’t used to all of the preservatives and excessive amounts of sodium Americans are accustomed to eating. I never really thought of that before, until I actually experienced it for myself. Sure, convenience is great, but now that I’ve got the hang of how to do so much on my own, I don’t know that I’ll ever go back (aside from a major time-crunch, of course) if / when we ever leave Thailand. In a way, that makes me really happy.
One thing I was really looking forward to consuming mass quantities of while in the USA was bagels. Lots and lots of bagels. (Also on the list were cottage cheese, mushrooms, zucchini, good crackers, all kinds of cheese, and spinach, of course!) Bagels are hard to find here – unless you’re in a big city and can find a place that has them, can work them into your budget (a little expensive on a basic Thai scheme), and even then, they’re not always the best. I’ve been wanting to try my hand at bagels for quite some time, though I didn’t have the proper motivation until now – I still had the taste of bagels fresh in my mind from home, and it’s been driving me nuts not having them. So, today, I did it. I made bagels. Luscious, light, fresh, crusty on the outside, delightfully chewy on the inside bagels.
To me, there’s two kinds of bagels – the kind that are hollow sounding, have a thin crusty exterior, and are chewy on the inside (think Lender’s bagels). The other are the kind you may find at a small bakery shop or Meijer – thicker, heavier, and when toasted they get really crusty and kind of chunky like regular toast. I prefer the first kind – chewy – and that’s exactly what these are! So, if you’d like to make them for yourself, check out the recipe and photos below. They’re not difficult at all. They just take a bit of time, like any other good homemade yeast bread. Enjoy!
From Ultimate Bread
Makes 8 bagels (regular sized like Lender’s, NOT the giant bakery kind – or a dozen or so mini-bagels… the ones pictured here are regular)
2 tsp dry yeast
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) warm water
3 1/2 cups (500 g) unbleached flour, plus extra for kneading
1 1/2 tsp salt
Sprinkle the yeast and sugar into 1/2 cup of the water in a small bowl. Leave for 5 minutes and then stir to dissolve. In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt together. Form a well in the center and pour in the dissolved yeast.
Pour half of the remaining water into the well. Mix in the flour and stir in the reserved water as needed, forming a firm and moist dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Gradually work in as much additional flour as possible while comfortably kneading to form a stiff and firm dough.
Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat it. Cover with a towel and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Punch down and let the dough rest 10 minutes.
Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball – cup between your hands and press the bottoms together between your palms. Press down to get rid of air bubbles and roll the dough between your palm and the work surface to form a smooth ball. Coat a finger in flour and press it through each ball to form a ring.
Work the rest of your fingers into the hole, stretching the ring and widening the hole to about 1/3 of the bagel’s diameter. Place the bagels on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Let rest for 10 minutes and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Bring a large pan of water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Use a perforated skimmer to lower the bagels into the water in batches of 2-3. Boil, uncovered, until they rise to the surface, about 1 minute. Turn them over once midway.
This lil beauty right here is what caused me to burn my fingers trying to slice it open about 30 seconds after I removed it from the pan. I sliced it, popped it in the toaster, slathered it with a bit of butter….. then lost half of it to Brook. He said he’d only take one bite, but before I knew it, the whole thing was gone! Guess that means he liked it, huh – so, I’ll definitely be making these again… soon!