Tuesday, April 29, 2014

recipe modification: montreal style bagels

Bagels -- Level Up!

Okay, my baking buddy and I made bagels again, and this time we used a different recipe.  Honestly, we used this recipe because 1) it didn't call for the elusive barley malt powder, 2) they're literally 2 hours from start to finish (where our last recipe was overnight!), and 3) I'm infatuated with Canada.

However.  Just to offer some constructive criticism...that recipe needs some help.  We sort of had to make it up as we went along...but they still turned out really good!  A little pretzel-y, honestly.  Which is a good thing in my book, but...I guess I'd have to try a real Montreal bagel to know if it's supposed to be like that or not.  Anyways, here are my notes so if you want to make them, you'll have a little more predictable success!
  • Count on needing a good 1/2 cup more flour than the 4 they prescribe.  This bugger was sticky as heck.
  • I would definitely let the dough rise for more like 30 minutes.  The bagels puff up during boiling, which is nice, but a few of ours tried to sink, which means they didn't rise enough.
  • Definitely don't shape them the way she describes--authentic or not, they will more than likely come apart.  The best (most fun) way to shape them is this: make a roughly circular ball shape, poke a hole through the center, and spin the dough around your finger like it's a teeny tiny hula hoop.  Stretch and shape consistently.
  • She forgot to list the amount of baking soda for boiling.  We put in about a tablespoon and a half.  
  • I believe boiling them for less time on each side would produce a less-pretzel-y bagel.  I leave it up to your discretion.
  • Don't use parchment paper, just grease your pans.  Parchment paper is liable to spontaneously ignite above 450 F.  And you're cooking these at 500 F.  You do the math!
  • You don't need to flip them.  You don't need that extra 5 minutes in the oven.  You barely need the 10 minutes.  Just keep an eye on them.  And for heaven's sake, DOUBLE UP YOUR POTHOLDERS.  These pans get hot.
  • Toppings-wise:  If using sesame seeds or minced onions, like we did, put those kinds of dry toppings on immediately after boiling.  The bagels will still be moist, which will make the topping stick to the surface better.  I highly recommend topping some with shredded cheddar cheese, but make sure the pan is well greased.  Cinnamon and sugar is a fun combo, but I don't really recommend it because the 500 F will make your sugar smoke and harden!  
  • When you're done, pour some hot water in those pans immediately!  Anything cooked on at 500 F is no fun to clean off, and soaking them ASAP will make it much easier.  
  • Of course, I highly recommend serving these with butter, avocado, and a poached egg.  Accompany with an episode of West Wing.