Disclaimer: This post is not going to be as soothing as The Great British Baking Show, so if you’re looking for that genre, I’d suggest heading over to Netflix for your dose of accented people trying their hands at baking. Once you’re done there, be sure to come back here for your fix of a non-accented person attempting to make an Americanized version of iconic baked goods.
You’re back? Great, let’s dive in! This weekend I was able to accomplish a significant goal of mine. No, I’m not referring to my plan of owning a ski chalet in Colorado, which is still a work in progress; rather, I’m talking about my long-held desire to make homemade bagels.
I set the goal in October, but it didn’t feel right to make such a New York-y food in a state where 90% of the people whom I interacted with seemed frightened by the mere mention of bread. I figured, any Western New Yorker worth their kimmelweck should know their way around a bagel, so after becoming an official New York resident (thank you, Cheryl at the DMV), it was time to give it a try. Armed with that sense of duty, plus large quantities of bread flour and an arsenal of YouTube tutorials, I began the process.
Step #1: Knead the dough | Feeling ambitious, I decided to double the recipe, but I didn’t consider how the larger quantity would make it more difficult for me to knead the dough. This led to the personal nightmare of anyone with gluten intolerance: dough spilling out of a KitchenAid mixer. Seeing this prompted me to attempt to knead the dough by hand which, as you can see from the photo below, was gross and subsequently short-lived. As a result, the kneading process ended earlier than it was supposed to, which made the dough pretty flaky (think, me avoiding plans on a Friday night). Regardless of the consistency, I was determined to make bagels this weekend, so I dove into the next steps undeterred.
Step #2: Turn flaky dough into something that resembles a bagel | After letting the dough rise, it was time to form the bagels by rolling them into balls then promptly destroying the smooth sphere you just formed by puncturing it with your fingers to fashion the center hole. It was oddly cathartic and didn’t take long to fill a sheet pan full of pretty messed up looking bagels.
Step #3: Boil (yes boil) those bad boys | The next step is to plop the bagels (which looked like they were trying to run away from themselves thanks to the crumbling dough) into a vat of boiling water. I never knew that bagels were boiled before they were baked, but I diligently followed the wisdom of the teenage YouTuber by doing as I was instructed. Come to find out, boiling my already deformed bagels seemed to age them by about 100 years.
Step #4: Bake ’em | Horrified by my sheet pan of wrinkled dough blobs, I hurriedly brushed them with egg wash and slid them into the oven, hoping that this step would magically fix my contenders for world’s ugliest bagels. This turned out to do wonders because, in less than twenty minutes, I had a sheet of piping hot, nicely browned bread that resembled actual bagels. Sure, they may have looked like they had been angrily thrown against a wall before being baked, but they could at least be classified as bagels instead of nondescript mounds of bread!
Step #5: Savor the end result | The final step in this process was to add eggs, bacon, and a smear of butter to create one of my favorite foods: a breakfast sandwich. Cutting into the bagel turned out to be a bit tricky since the flakiness of the dough made for some jagged edges, but after compiling my sandwich, I looked at the final product with a major sense of accomplishment. And most importantly, what the bagels lacked in appearance, they more than made up for in taste.
That is my bagel-making journey, told through a serious of borderline graphic images that can serve as a warning for faint-hearted people considering bagel arts (that’s a thing, right?). And while there is still quite a bit of room for improvement, I am quite pleased with my first attempt at making bagels and will certainly make more in the future.
And who knows? Maybe this immensely non-instructional post will go viral, prompting me to create a spinoff blog titled The Most Boring Baker Setting the Table. Actually, that probably won’t happen, so continue expecting me to write about anything that comes to mind.
The Bewildered Bagel Baking Blogger*
*That felt like something a food blogger would end a post with