One thing you folks may not know about me is that I'm very very susceptible to the power of suggestion. So when so many of you get together and start talking about and eating and making bagels, and one of you waxes poetic about lox on bagels (fine there's only 2 of you), I get bagels in my head.
And I think about them.
And eventually..... I want to make them. Luckily for me, I couldn't make them last weekend. I was too busy celebrating my birthday and throwing a party and eating brunch with my friends. But this weekend.... bagels were on.
Rule#1 - anyone who goes shopping for bagel essentials after Happy Hour gets what she deserves.
Case in point: I went shopping for my bagel stuff after happy hour, and as such, I missed the key difference in my flour choice. I picked up WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR instead of ALL PURPOSE FLOUR because I read the tag on the front of the shelf at Whole Foods, instead of the actual BAG OF FLOUR in my hand. Oy.
Rule#2 - do not start bagels, which require a significant amount of time in their early stages, at 10pm.
Case in point: When I got home from happy hour (which turned into 4 happy hours, I'll admit) and Whole Foods, I decided it was the perfect time to start making bagels. Because Jesse said that he'd prefer them for breakfast on Saturday. And I live to make him happy (no I'm not being tongue in cheek - I actually kinda do). So I started bagels at 10 pm. Which means that they weren't ready to be put in the fridge overnight until roughly 2am. Brilliant is my middle name.
For the record, I used the recipe from Smitten Kitchen for Peter Reinhart's Bagels. Deb's dad (SantaDad) gave them his Bronx-Childhood Seal of Approval, which is really all I need in the way of endorsement. I'm also not going to speak specifially about the amounts and stuff for the recipe - read it on SK, because it's a novel in itself without my blathering.
Bagel Day 1:
It's always a little nerve-wracking to begin a baking project knowing that you don't have the correct ingredients. However, knowing that High Gluten flour was difficult to come by, I purchased a box of vital wheat gluten, which is not as hard to find at Whole Foods as you might think. I still have no idea what instant yeast is, but WF doesn't sell it, and Google said I could use it interchangably with Active Dry, so I did.
I had decided that if I didn't see the desired results from the sponge after the 2-hour sit, I would throw the whole mess away and start again on Saturday. My stomach sank when I realized that I would have to add a TON more water to make the sponge reach the "thick pancake batter" consistency, because of the density of whole wheat flour as compared to APF. I mean, I'm all for improvising and adding more of whatever you think you need, but there's a difference between that and setting yourself up for embarrassment and wasting 6 hours of your life.
The sponge got puffy. It seemed encouraging. So I added the rest of the flour and salt and yeast and Vital Wheat gluten and mixed it all up. I didn't add malt powder or syrup because I didn't have any and couldn't find any at Whole Foods. So.... too bad.
Let me just tell you. 10 minutes of kneading ends up making your shoulder hurt. Specifically, my right shoulder. And the dough never quite got as satiny as I was hoping, but then again, what do I know?
I shaped my dough into 3-ounce balls. I think next time I will go with the 4.5-ounce size on half, because there is no way that I need as many bagels as I ended up with. But yes, pull out your kitchen scale and start weighing dough balls. You'll thank me.
After a short (20-min) proof, I poked my thumb through the center of the funny little dough balls and made bagel holes. These also had to proof for 20 minutes, and then I did one of the silliest tests ever for bagels. Basically.... you drop a bagel into a bowl of cool water, to see if it will float or not. I'm not sure why. I don't really want to question it, though, because it worked brilliantly and the bagel instantly floated, so I threw all three cookie sheets into the fridge and went to bed.
Bagel Day 2 coming soon!!!