If I, a native New Yorker, can make my own acceptable bagels at home here in Kentucky, I will have won at life (I mean that and marrying the love of my life). My baby brother is visiting for a week so we’ll have his NY opinion on the results as well. I followed this recipe for sourdough bagels the first time, using rye flour and DH loved them, but he’s from Colorado so what does he know? Then I found this recipe which makes a lot of sense from the bread science I know. So, I will be experimenting with combining the two recipes, since I don’t use instant yeast in my staple breads. I’ll include more photos, and comments for future endeavors on Saturday when they are finished.
As a side note, if you know a dozen people who are gluten intolerant, or rave about their gluten free diet, this is not just a fad. There is Celiac disease which is very serious, and there are the myriad little “feeling crummy” kind of symptoms of gluten intolerance. And this is really because of instant yeast and commercial bread baking practices. For millenia, bread was made using the natural leavening of the yeast that was naturally on the grains when they were ground, and when moisture is added at room temperature it will begin to bubble and froth from the yeast digesting the flour. This yeast can be cultivated in what is called “starter”, a natural leavening which is self sustaining when “fed” more water and flour regularly because it produces an acidic “hooch” (hence, sour dough) which prevents bacterial growth. To make leaven bread, this starter is added to the bread ingredients, and it poofs slowly, over 8-24 hours (instead of 2-4 or even less with commercial yeast). This rapid rising barely gives the yeast time to break down the flour into easily digestible bits, and so it is much harder on our stomachs. The slower the rise, the more flavor is extracted, and better for our bodies (more information here). It only takes a little more effort, but significantly more planning ahead to make bread this way if you already bake your own bread, and I find it is worth the health benefits for my family, but then some times we also eat doughnuts from the grocery store. All things in moderation.
My starting recipe for the sponge is as follows:
- 1/2 c recently fed natural yeast starter (can be bought at a health food store or online)
- 1 c bread flour
- 1/2 c rye flour
- 1 c warm water (non-chlorinated is more hospitable to yeast, such as spring water)
I will leave the sponge overnight to bubble, then in the morning add:
- 1 T malt syrup
- 2 c rye flour
- 1 t sea salt
- 2 t caraway seeds
At this point, it’s important to knead 10 minutes to activate the gluten and make a cohesive dough. This should make a really firm dough, more so than regular bread; add more rye flour as needed during kneading. Leave to rise until double, 8-12 hours depending on conditions in your kitchen. Then, punch down and cut into 12 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Let rest 20 minutes and then poke your thumb through the ball and pull gently until it makes a nice circle like such:
If you have the amazing silpat, this is a perfect use for it. Otherwise, parchment paper is fine, or a greased cookie sheet. Place the bagels about 1″ apart and after resting another 30 minutes, place covered in the fridge for the night. This will slow down the yeast so that the bagels are ready to cook first thing in the morning. On the morning of day 3, bring bagels up to room temperature while boiling a large pot of water and preheating the oven to 475 F.
Mix 1 T each of sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried onion, and coarse salt (in my experience dried garlic burns too fast) on a small plate.
Add 1 T baking soda to the boiling water (ever heard the phrase “soda sweetens”? It alkalizes the water, and neutralizes some of the acidity of the sourdough, increasing the depth of flavor). Add the bagels to the boiling water 2-3 at a time, and after about a minute flip, and remove after another minute. Place the cooked bagels on a paper towel, and while still sticky roll all sides in the seasoning. Arrange back on the baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes, then rotate pan, and bake until bagels are golden brown, about 10 minutes. These babies came out flavorful and chewy with a crisp exterior (it could have been crisper, but very acceptable). For next time, I didn’t do an egg wash, and I wish I had…live, learn, and make more bagels.
Serving suggestion: make a sandwich with a fried egg and extra thin sausage patty. It will definitely make your dog jealous. Store any bagels you don’t eat immediately in a paper bag until tomorrow. Eat the rest tomorrow, they go stale fast!
Sourdough Rye Everything Bagels
Active time: 45 minutes
Prep time: ~38 hours (about 15 minutes every 12 hours)
- 1/2 c recently fed natural yeast starter
- 1 1/2 c bread flour
- 1 1/2 c warm water
- 1 T malt syrup, or 2 T non-diastatic malt powder (or honey, but the familiar flavor of NY bagels comes from malt)
- 2 c rye flour (more for kneading)
- 1 t sea salt
- 2 t caraway seeds
- 1 T each of sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried onion, and coarse salt
- 1 T baking soda