Don’t let this picture fool you. I should have stuck with Gryfe’s Bagels.
This picture makes my bagels look like they came out semi-alright, but the fact is that the one in the front is the best-looking one (by far) of the bunch. Most of them turned out wide and flat. I’m not positive where things went wrong, but I have a few ideas.
Things started out just fine. I mixed the sponge of yeast, flour, and water.
And then let it sit for two hours.
It was supposed to be bubbly and doubled in height, but it didn’t look quite ready, so I let it go another hour. Was this one of my mistakes?
I added in the rest of the ingredients, including the malt syrup, which the recipe says will give the bagels that real bagel flavor.
The dough mixed up reasonably well. I had been forewarned that it could take awhile to incorporate all the flour, so I put the mixing spoon aside, plunged in with two hands, and mixed.
It didn’t take too long for all the ingredients to be hydrated, and then it was ready to knead.
The recipe warned that this would be a very stiff dough, and even though my mixer is a tough one, I decided not to risk a motor burnout so I kneaded the dough by hand. After about five minutes, I had a beautiful, smooth, pliable dough. Not at all tacky. It was stiff and hard work to knead, but it wasn’t ultra stiff. Maybe my next mistake was that I didn’t add more flour then?
I kneaded for another five minutes (approx. 10 minutes total). It passed the windowpane test with flying colors.
Next, I cut the dough into 12 equal pieces, shaped them into rolls, and let them rest.
I had learned from my previous bagel-baking experience that I didn’t like the shaping method where you make a strand of dough, wrap it around your hand, and join the two ends because they came apart when I poached the bagels. So this time I used the alternate method of just punching a hole through the dough ball.
The method is a good one, but my execution of it was poor, as you can see here, because those holes are just way too small. Even before proofing, you can tell from this photo they’re too small. Why I couldn’t tell that in person, I don’t know. Mistake #3.
I sprayed them lightly with oil, covered them, and put them in the fridge.
At this point, I had no idea I was in for an extreme bagel failure. In fact, I woke up pretty excited the next day, thinking we would have beautiful fresh bagels to eat. Reports from other Challenge recipients were that these were the Best. Bagels. Ever.
But when I took them out of the fridge and removed their plastic wrap, it was clear that I was in for a disappointment. The plastic wrap stuck a bit (mistake #4: use more spray oil both on the silpat and on the plastic wrap). And the bagels were overly puffed, so when I removed the wrap, some deflated. Miserably.
And when I lifted them to put them in the boiling water to poach them, any that had retained any lift immediately collapsed and shriveled into pathetic looking “bagel-dumplings”.
I knew at this point that it was a failure, but I persisted. I dusted half with a poppy-seed/salt mixture and left the others plain. At this point, I mostly just wanted to throw them in the trash, but, you never know. Maybe oven spring would save them?
Ha ha ha ha HA!
No such luck.
The taste wasn’t bad. And Hyla devoured one spread with butter while it was still warm (which I considered quite a compliment since she usually isn’t one to try “experimental” food). We ate several, with goat cheese or cream cheese, and smoked salmon.
They were (sort of) edible. But delicious? A bagel for the ages? Not in my hands.
But I do plan to give them another try. And I’m inspired to go back to my Gryfe’s bagel recipe to give that another go as well. And when I want to make myself feel better, I’ll go back and look at the first (deceptive) picture, and then eat a slab of brioche.