Saturday, 29 October 2011

A First Time for Everything: 2-Hour Whole Wheat Bagels

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I've always wanted to make bagels, but every time I thought I was up for it I either balked at all the steps or had a yeasted-things-disaster just before I was planning to make them and got too intimidated.  It seems like such a process: all that kneading and rising, then more rising and resting, then the shaping, and to top it all off they have to be boiled before they're baked??  WTF.

But then, last weekend, I found myself with nothing interesting to do (the bf was off with his study buddy) and some extra whole wheat flour on my hands (not literally, that part comes later), and I came across this recipe for bagels in two hours.  Yes, two hours, start to finish!  It seemed too good to be true, but I was bored and I figured I'd give it a shot.
The bf came home just as the first rise was ending, and he gladly jumped in and helped with the ring-making:

They came out a little wonky, with some deep creases that I was too untalented/lazy to fix, but they did resemble bagels, in that they were round and had holes in them.  It was a good start!

And then, after another brief rest, came the boiling part – this is the bit that has held me back from making both bagels and pretzels for years, despite an all-consuming love on my part for any and all things chewy and bready.  But, miracle of miracles, it wasn't that annoying!  It's likely this is true mostly because the bf was standing next to me in the kitchen, doing all the timing and most of the flipping, but still, I was impressed.  I think I could even do it without the help... maybe.

Now, the toppings.  This is where I came in handy – the bf would most certainly have made a big mess with all those tiny seeds, but if there's one thing I'm good at it's making as little mess as possible (this is less to do with my daintiness and more to do with my abhorrence of cleanup).  I used sesame seeds, sea salt, and toasted pumpkin seeds (toasted by my own fair hands, thankyouverymuch), and I have to say, I was pretty pleased with myself.

And I was even more pleased when they came out of the oven all golden brown and lovely, looking like real, honest-to-goodness bagels!  I suppose I expected them to puff up so much that they turned into rolls, or melt down into puddles of yuck, or end in some other familiar baking disaster.

But instead, they were rather lovely, and I must say they tasted pretty darn good too.  The whole wheat definitely made them a bit heavier than a normal bagel (for a softer bagel, I'll probably do half white flour next time), but the crust was chewy, the flavor was nutty, and these little babies were just delicious spread with cream cheese and topped with smoked salmon.

So if you'd like to try making your own bagels but you've always been too intimidated, I highly recommend this method.  It's relatively quick, easy, and low on cleanup (always a priority when you have a sink as tiny as mine), and it'll give you crazy amounts of baker street cred with your kitchen-phobic friends! 

Whole Wheat 2-Hour Bagels
     barely adapted from The Galley Gourmet

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine:
     2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
     2 tsp granulated sugar
     3 1/2 c whole wheat bread flour
     1 3/4 tsp kosher salt
Turn the mixer on to a low speed and slowly drizzle in:
     1 1/3 c warm water
Mix until the dough comes together in a mass, about 5 minutes, then increase speed to med-high and knead until soft and smooth, another 8-10 minutes.  Put the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover with a dish cloth, and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 hour, but could be more depending on the chill factor of your home).

When dough has doubled, knock it back and then let it rest for another 10 minutes.  

Preheat the oven to 425F/220C and bring a large pot of water to boil (or fill the electric kettle).  While you wait for the water to boil, form your bagels.  Divide the dough into eight even-sized pieces and roll the pieces between your hands to make balls.  Poke a hole in the center of each ball and, with a hula-hoop motion, swing the dough around your index finger to stretch the hole – the hole should be about 1/3 of the entire bagel's diameter.  Let the formed bagels rest for 10 minutes on a baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone.

When the bagels have rested and your water has boiled and been reduced to a gentle simmer, begin the boiling.  In batches of two or three, carefully lower the bagels into the pot.  Boil uncovered for 1 minute, then flip the bagels (a slotted spoon is great for this process) and boil for another minute.  Drain the bagels and place them on the baking sheet.  Repeat until all your bagels are boiled.

Top the bagels with whatever you like your bagels topped with, and put the sheet in the preheated oven.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the bagels are golden on top.  Cool on a wire rack and then dig in!


  1. Your bagels look awesome! I make bagels sometimes with white flour and I've been itching to try with whole wheat. And I love that they don't take too long :D

  2. Hi Heidi,

    I've just bought some white flour and I think I'll try that next – these ones were delicious but they could have been a bit chewier! I hope they turn out well for you!



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