I have a few projects going on around my house that I’ve been wanting to post about, but they’re not complete yet. And the limoncello won’t be ready until later this week. So, I’ll post about making bagels.
Yesterday, my friend Jess and I went to a bagel making workshop through Sour Flour. Turns out there’s a bunch of things about making bread and bagels that I didn’t know. At its basic level, bread making can be easy (obviously people have been doing it for centuries), but there’s a lot of nuances to learn once you get really into it.
In the class, we used a starter. I’d never used that before to make bread, always just packet yeast. I didn’t even really know what starter was. Basically, it’s just a goopy mixture of flour and water that you let sit at room temperature for a while — maybe a few days. The mixture then grows its own natural yeast that you use to start up your own bread. You “feed” it periodically by adding more flour or water, to help the yeast “grow”. I asked in the class if you could use beer instead of water in the starter — yes, you can. Your starter might grow differently, and your bread might taste a bit like the beer. I’ve made beer bread before, but that’s actually pretty different from this process.
Back to bagels. We mixed together (by hand) about 3 1/2 cups high-gluten flour (aka bread flour), 1tbsp salt, and about 2 cups of water. And a clumpy handful of starter. Then there was kneading, then resting, then stretching thin like pizza dough, then resting, then rolling into snakes and then rolling into little logs. Then forming into six bagel-like shapes.
I let the doughy bagel shapes proof overnight (aka rest), and woke up to find that they’d doubled in size. This is what they looked like this morning:

Then I boiled them for 3 minutes and added toppings (salt, pepper, garlic powder, sesame seeds).

Then baked ’em. 15 minutes at approximately 475° (my oven has really funky temperatures, and no markings on the dial). I probably could have baked them just shy of the 15-minute mark. They weren’t burnt, but they were definitely toasty on the bottom.

I’ve come to the conclusion that making bagels isn’t really as difficult as I once thought, but it helps to kind of know what you’re doing. Splitting up the tasks made it seem like a lot less work — I liked making the dough the day before and popping them in the oven in the morning. And considering the fact that these are the best bagels I’ve had since leaving NYC, it’s probably worth it to attempt these again.