Certain foods seem like they just couldn't emerge out of an ordinary kitchen.
Dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets.
Yes, bagels. Have you ever tried making your own? Have you any earthly idea where to even begin?
I wasn't all that intrigued by the idea of making bagels until an editor at work, Nick, brought in a homemade batch last year. They weren't just yummy — they were the best bagels I'd ever had.
I finally got around to trying out my own batch this past week.
Like any bread, this is how life as a bagel begins: flour, yeast, water, salt.
I won't bore you with the rising bit, except to share a tip. It seems to me that the rising part is far more flexible than you might think. Sure, it says "Let rise 2 hours" but you can wait longer, especially if you stick the dough in the fridge overnight. I'm a big fan of two-day bread baking. The first day is for making the dough. The second day for baking it. In between, time takes care of a lot of the work.
The dough gets divided up into balls. I added chopped onions to half of the batch.
Then they get shaped. I followed Mark Bittman's instructions in "How to Cook Everything" and rolled the dough into a log, then looped the ends together. As you can see, it made for bagels with personality. (See the pushy one in the center? The grouchy one in the last row? What, you don't?)
OK, now what? Pop them in the oven, right?
Pop them in a pot of boiling water!
Who knew bagels got boiled? I thought for sure they would fall apart and dissolve into a gooey bagel stew. But no, they held together nicely. A minute on one side, then flip. A minute on the other.
Now comes the baking. Some of the non-onion bagels got dunked in cinnamon sugar. Mmmm.
They bake for about 20 minutes. Half-way through, I sprinkled some with cheese. (The onion ones, not the cinnamon ones. Eew.)
And presto! Here they are. All pretty, looking remarkably bagel-like and tasty. They weren't as good as Nick's, but they were dang delicious.
One warning: Bagels made with no fancy chemicals get stiff and inedible quickly. If you like the way the bagels turn out, invite friends over immediately. When else will they get invited to a spontaneous bagel party?