As I told you before we began, in a blogging challenge like this, there is no time for recipe testing and perfecting. Whatever happens is what I post. Therefore I must admit here that although these bagels are delicious, and the kids asked that they please go into regular rotation, the truth is they were flatter than I’d like a bagel to be and I’m not sure why. I’m not a great bread maker, but I’m thinking maybe I should use a high-gluten bread flour? If any of you have tips or ideas, please leave in the comments.
So a little flat, but definitely easy and delicious. The original recipe comes from a 1983 cookbook called The Romantic Vegetarian by Judith Sharlin. It’s an adorable, themed cookbook, all handwritten and illustrated. I don’t use it much anymore because the recipes have a lot of dairy and eggs in them, but this bagel recipe was vegan except for the egg white wash. For that I looked to Isa Chandra Moskovitz’s vegan challah recipe which suggests a maple syrup/soy milk wash to add browning and shine to the loaves. It worked well for the bagels too but did add a little sweetness. I thought that was nice, but if you don’t like that idea, you’ll have to find a different solution.
A funny thing about bagels – they aren’t really commonly sold or eaten here in Israel. Isn’t that strange? I was pretty shocked when we moved to the land of the Jews and the most iconic Jewish food is nowhere to be found. Oh, there are a few bagel shops in the areas with larger Anglo populations and you can buy them frozen at the grocery store, but they are not a daily staple as they were in my American life.
The word “beigele” in Hebrew actually means pretzel – both the little hard snack pretzels and the huge, rope-like, sesame encrusted loaves sold by Arab vendors. Apparently the boiled then baked chewy bagels we know and love were brought to North America by Polish Jews. I guess the Poles who emigrated to Israel decided to just convert to pita.
As any bread, these bagels have a lot of steps, but there is nothing complicated or difficult so don’t that let that stop you from trying them!
- 2 Tbsp dry yeast
- 1 1/2 cups wrist-warm water
- 3 Tbsp sugar or sweetener of your choice (plus an additional Tbsp for the boiling water)
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 3/4 - 2 cups white flour, plus possibly more for kneading
- cornmeal for baking sheet
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp soy milk
- sesame seeds, poppy seeds, onion or garlic powder etc for sprinkling on top as desired
- Put the yeast and the sugar in a large bowl.
- Stir in the wrist-warm water until dissolved.
- Let rest for 5 minutes to foam up.
- Add flour 1 cup at a time and salt as well.
- At some point the dough will become too stiff to stir with a spoon and then you will turn it out onto the counter to knead.
- Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, adding small amounts of flour as needed to keep it from sticking.
- You will know you have kneaded the dough enough and added the right amount of flour when it feels like a soft, smooth ear lobe, with no remaining stickiness.
- Wash the bowl you originally used. Dry it and wipe it with some oil.
- Place the dough in the bowl and coat all sides with oil.
- Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and then a kitchen towel, and set in a warm place to rise for 1 hour.
- After one hour, punch the dough down and divide into 8 balls.
- Using your thumb, make a hole in the middle of each ball and set on a sheet of plastic wrap or waxed paper.
- Let the rings rest and rise for another 10 minutes or so while you prepare the pot of water.
- Place 3 liters (about 12 cups) of water in a large pot and stir in 1 Tbsp sugar. Bring to a boil.
- Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 180C.
- Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper, lightly oil them, and sprinkle with cornmeal. Set aside.
- When the water is boiling vigorously, gently side in a few bagels at a time.
- Boil bagels for about 45 seconds - 1 minute until they expand.
- Gently remove bagels with a slotted spoon and place on a smooth kitchen towel to drain while you boil the next batch. (Mine totally stuck to the paper towel I used. Don't use paper towel!)
- When you have boiled all the bagels, place them on the prepared baking sheets and brush lightly with the maple syrup/soy milk mixture.
- Sprinkle with whatever seeds or toppings you have chosen, or leave plain.
- Place in the preheated oven for 15 - 20 minutes until browned and firm.
- Remove, slice, shmear, and eat!