Date: Mon, 14 Aug 1995 02:56:54 -0700
From: Jukka Talvio (email@example.com)
I once spent a year in the US as an exchange student. Even though I
did then eat a couple of bagels, I never became a great fan. I always
thought they taste bland compared to any Finnish bread. Not to mention
the salmon that often came with it. I didn't even consider becoming
vegetarian then, but I still wouldn't eat that preserved salmon.
Then about a year ago I visited a friend of mine in New Jersey. She
works on Manhattan close to a the worlds best bagel bakery, I swear. I
couldn't get enough of their wizardy. I bought 20 to bring home for my
girlfriend. The bakery was not impressed. It seems people take their
bagels all over the world.
I have ever since wondered what is the magic in bagels. I found a
couple recipes and tried it. It really doesn't seem to be that
difficult to make better bagels than most I ate in the US.
Note: 2 cup is 2.4 dl and therefore 1 dl is 0.417 cups. 1 tsp and 1
tblspoons are the same in the US and Finland. 5 ml and 15 ml
respectively. Don't you wish everyone would use the SI system.
3 dl water
2 tsp dry yeast
2 tblsp sugar (or sucanat, i guess)
2 dl oat bran (or wheat bran. I like oat bran better)
5 dl wheat flour
(For my favorite cinnamon raisin bagels I add 1 tblsp cinnamon and 1 dl
raisins. Can anyone suggest other varieties.)
As you can see the dough is very basic bread dough. I make mine with a
bread machine that has a dough setting. Seems I get the best results
if I heat the water and then add the sugar and dry yeast to wake the
yeast. When bubbles form I add the rest of the ingredients and have the
machine do the kneading. Of course, you can do this by hand or some
other adequate kitchen appliance.
The amounts are fairly exact. Again, the experience has shown that the
best consistency is fairly "dry" dough. The dough should not stuck on
your fingers when you knead it. If I make regular bread I often leave
it moister. Since I cannot show you what I mean, you might want to do
your own experiments and see what you like best.
The bread machine lets the dough raise once, but if you do this by
hand, form the dough into a ball, cover with a small towel and let
raise for 45 minutes in a warm place. Note that if the place is *too*
warm, your bread or bagels might taste like yeast.
Knead the dough after this a minute and form into balls. I like my
bagels big the same way I had them in NYC so I make six bagels from
the dough. It is probably best to divide the dough into six balls and
then in your hands flatten them one by one and make a hole in the
middle with your fingers. It really isn't that difficult.
Let the bagels raise for about 30 minutes. When the time has passed be
sure you have a large pot, maybe 4 liter (about a gallon) of boiling
water. Add about 2 tblsp sugar in to the water.
This is the magic that makes bagels moist what they are:
When the water is simmering, not boiling violently, lower bagels into
the water. They should float. You probably cannot fit all of them into
the pot at the same time so boil two or three at a time. Turn the
bagels around a few times while you simmer them for 3 minutes.
If you now bake the bagels in the oven they come out gray. the taste
is still fine, but they do not look very delicious. Therefore I paint
each bagel with egg white into which I have added about 2 tblsp water.
Place the bagels on baking sheets. Some say you should grease the
sheets, but I don't. Now you can top a few with sesame seeds, poppy
seeds, or whatever.
Now bake them in 200 C (400 F) for 25 minutes. Cools on wire racks
for the best results.
I consider the result the grown jewel of American Jewish
kitchen. There is one pizzeria in Helsinki, Finland, that claims to
sell bagels, but they taste like a poor plastic imitation. The bagels
you get in the freezed foods section in American supermarkets cannot
compare with the home made fresh result.
Yet, I have miles to go before I reach the level of mastery that one
small bakery practices on Manhattan. To me it is the number one
attraction on the island.