My sister recently shared her sourdough starter with me and I’ve been thinking of baking projects to use up the portion that gets discarded whenever I feed it. I’ve been meaning to get into baking bread and other yeast-based comestibles for a while now, and so pleased with the results so far. The first project was a multi-grain boule* baked in a Dutch oven, and the second: bagels.
I used a hybrid of this recipe from CHOW and one from Lauren Groveman, featured on an episode of Baking with Julia. I hadn’t realized how straightforward making one’s own bagels is. It’s not easy, exactly, as it takes a fair amount of time, but I had no trouble getting the dough to the proper consistency (which I have not at all found to be the case with breads in general). And these were so, so good. Worlds better than standard grocery store bagels and, freshly baked, basically better than any but those from specialty bakeries making them fresh each morning. Soft, chewy, not at all dry, tasting really properly of bagel (this thanks to the malt syrup, which recommend taking the trouble to get). Good if not better without toasting.
A fair number of steps, but, provided ample flour to prevent sticking at various points, not hard. I especially liked Groveman’s shaping technique, which involved pinching the dough into a neat ball and poking a hole through the center rather than shaping a rope into a circle, better structural integrity this way.
You make the hole disproportionately large when initially shaping to allow for shrinkage. I hadn’t thought about this, and am pleased with this bit of data. That said, I made mine rather too large.
They don’t look so promising for many stages of the process.
Seed & semolina base, egg wash, coating of choice, baking stone, ice water below for steam.
Semolina, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, caraway seeds.
Trying to learn to make more and more of these foods I would normally buy pre-made. Satisfying. The making of breads I find especially meditative and comforting.