Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Bagels Revisited

Bagels are a big deal to me. Way way back (back before Blogger and a gagillion personal food blogs), freshman year in college, the first time I had access to "fast" internet connections and free domain space I even createded a website (or "web page" as we called it back then - I'm talking back in the dancing baby days) "Ethan's Don't Forget to Boil the Bagel Page". I was also fairly convinced that egg bagels were going to take over the world - and I wasn't totally convinced that was a bad idea. Maybe that's why I am now on a journey...Baking Bread to Save the World.

Enough. Point is, I like bagels. I hate crappy round rolls with holes that you get at the grocery store. Since the closest, good bagels are about a 2.5 hour drive from home, it's high time we nail down this bagel baking business.

I made a batch of bagels from my NY Grandpa's recipe a while back, and while I will make a few changes the next time I make them, they were very good, real bagels...chewy with a bit of a crust and great flavor (from the bagel itself, not some ridiculous blueberry flavor).

I am interested in coming up with the perfect bagel recipe so I have been pouring through recipes online. I came across the same recipe on two great food blogs (Eating out Loud, and Cafe Fernando). They both had used Peter Reinhart’s recipe from his classic book "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" which is actually a book I have, but had largely been intimidated by - all these levains, and poolishes, and breads that take three days to make, assuming you've spent the last 23 years tenderly seeing to the needs of your precious sourdough starter. Now that I found it in "quick and easy" comfort of the internet, I was ready to take it on.

Alas, the venerable Peter Reinhart has let me down. After mixing, and kneading, and kneading, and kneading, an overnight retard, a quick dip in the boiling pot, and baking at such ridiculously high heats considering the weather around here (when will it drop below 100 again?) what did we get to have for breakfast? Round rolls with a hole in the middle. Decent rolls (especially when covered with Rosemary and Grey Sea Salt, or Pecorino and Crushed Black Pepper), but certainly not bagels, certainly not Grandpa's bagels.

So it is decided...Grandpa was not messing around. I think a tweak or two and Grandpa's recipe will produce as fine a bagel as you can get this side of NYC.


Danielle said...

Let's hear it for Francis Richard Shayer! Nice pics, bro.

Lisa said...

Oh, your bagels look perfect! So, so good. Wish I had a dozen or so right now. Coincidentally, I just recently read this post on Smitten Kitchen about the very same thing. Her dad's memories are great to read, and her bagels are beautiful, too.

chou said...

Hooray for bagels. I agree with the intimidation factor that poolishes and pre-ferments have.