Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Daniel Leader's Bagels

This recipe is coming from Daniel Leader's book Bread Alone, which I have not baked out of in quite some time, but I felt like baking and eating bagels, so I went ahead and made them. I wanted to bake bagels is because over the weekend, Isaac and I made labneh. Labneh is a middle eastern cheese which is made from yogurt. The process includes mixing two quarts of good quality yogurt with 4 teaspoons of salt. this mixture is then left at room temperature for at least 25 hours to strain. I have taken several pictures of the operation so that you can see how it was done. 

This is the organic yogurt that was used, we used two 32 oz containers. 
The yogurt prior to any fermentation (There is no salt present in this photo), we were simply checking to make sure it would fit in the strainer and cheese cloth

After the salt was added. As you can see it barely fit in the strainer.

By the time Isaac and I returned, about 4 hours later nearly a 10 ounces of water had been drained from the mixture. By the afternoon on the following day only 1 pint of yogurt was left (1/4 of the total mixture). It was creamy and rich, with a wonderful sour flavor. It is exactly how I remember it from my time spent in Israel. This cheese tastes like a wonderful sour cream cheese. This was my inspiration to make Daniel Leader's Bagels.

These bagels were made as a straight dough, and were very easy to mix, they do contain a small amount of whole wheat flour (2.5 ounces) which did add a nice color contrast, but did not significantly effect the texture of the dough. This could be left out, but why not sneak in a little bit of health when you can. I mixed this dough on first speed for three minutes, and on second speed for another three minutes. I stopped mixing when the dough began to make a slapping sound from whacking against the side of the mixing bowl. It had wonderful gluten development. The dough was a bit on the heavy side, but this is a common characteristic with bagel doughs. 

The bagels received 90 minutes of bulk fermentation. Then the dough is divided into 10 equal sized pieces (I did not weight them). The pieces are allowed to rest for about ten minutes, this allows the gluten in the dough to  relax a bit. Then each piece is rolled into a short column. It is then wrapped around the hand and pinched together. The pinched section is then placed in the palm of your hand and rolled gently to form a strong seal. The shaped bagels are then allowed to rest for another ten minutes. During the shaping process i prepared the boiling solution for bagels. Daniel Leader recommends boiling 3 quarts of water with 2 tablespoons of malt syrup. I did not have malt syrup and have it found to locate in Columbus, OH, so I used Honey and quite a bit of it. I wanted the liquid to have a brownish golden color. Also it is important to get the oven stone very hot before baking.  

I then loaded the bagels two at a time into the simmering water and allowed each side to simmer for 30 seconds. This helps to really 'wake' up the yeast. This is traditionally much more important because bagels are often retarded for several hours. The boiling helps to re-vitalize the yeast activity in the dough. Then I placed them on a cooling rack I jerry rigged over my sink. 

 Once the bagels have dripped dry they are placed on a cornmeal lined baking pan and baked for twenty minutes. I checked them at five minute intervals. I think they got a little to much color, but nothing I am upset about. They actually came out very well. Making the bagel shape is a little trickier than it may seem, it takes a gentle but meaningful touch. Do not expect perfect bagels the first time, this is only the second time I have baked bagels, but I expect as I practice, they will come out prettier. 

Here are a few more photos:

Poppyseed Bagel with Labneh and Zataar. 

I am baking bialys today!
Bake On

1 comment :

  1. I've had better luck with shaping using this method:
    Make a rather tight ball (sphere) of dough and let it sit 10 minutes. Then poke a hole through the center and widen it out to make the bagel
    shape. As you open up the center, make sure to keep the thickness of the bagel approximately the same all the way around. I agree that
    with the rope-and-connect method it is hard to get an even shape and to get the connection solid enough that it doesn't come apart in the
    boiling or baking.