Thursday, June 28, 2007

Bagels or Fossils?

bagel_1


Like I mentioned in a previous post, I am a yeast virgin. So when hosts Quellia and Freya announced that bagels would be this month's Daring Bakers' challenge, I was pretty excited to finally bake with yeast. Early Sunday morning seemed like an ideal time to make my bagels. (I don't know why but I seem to associate bread baking with Sunday morning.) I really loved the smell of the yeast proofing. Although incorporating the flour into the yeast-water mixture with a wooden spoon was a sticky situation, the kneading by hand was very therapeutic. I hardly needed any flour to keep the dough from sticking to my marble kitchen counter. I did have to knead for some time to bring the doughy mess to a nice smooth ball, but it was very relaxing and the yeasty smell in the air was somewhat comforting.

The ambient temperature of my kitchen was only 67F but considering how much yeast the recipe required I expected my dough to rise really quickly. And it did seem like I was off to great start since the dough started to rise quite noticeable at first. But then after 2 hours my dough had only grown to about 1.5 times the original volume. But I was anxious to finish up my bagels and get on with the rest of my day so I went ahead and punched down the dough and divided the dough into 16 chunks like the recipe instructed. (Although, I think the dough could've been divided into 24 regular sized bagels as opposed to 16 giant bagels.)

Initially I formed my bagels using the "snake" method but I didn't like the way they looked. I had trouble rolling them evenly so some parts were thicker than other parts and the area where I pinched the ends together just didn't look good to me. So I switched over to the "hole-centric" method which I found was easier for me and made my bagels more even all around. I let them rise for about 10 minutes on the countertop before boiling. I didn't really notice any change in the size of my formed bagels during this rest. (And in hindsight I made my holes way too big, but I thought the dough would rise a bit more and "fill in" but unfortunately it didn't. Instead I'm left with ugly bagel rings instead of cute chubby bagels*.)

bagel_holecentricbagel_boil


Now these were some really big bagels. I mean, they are huge. I used a large stock pot that's 12 inches in diameter but I was still only able to boil 2 bagels at a time. Towards the end I did boil 3 at a time but they crowded each other in the pot and squished each other a bit. So as I'm boiling batch after batch, I'm thinking that these are the biggest ugliest bagels I have ever seen and that the next (and final) step of baking in the oven won't change that fact. I must say that I was quite disheartened. But this was my very first tryst with yeast, kneading and forming dough. Even so, I had hoped for the best outcome.

bagel_inside

So after I pulled my first batch of bagels from the oven I thought they looked more like fossils than bagels. I tasted one and thought they weren't too bad. But I did think my bagels were a bit flavorless. Topping my bagels with poppy seeds, sea salt or sesame seeds before baking wouldn't have improved the flavor by much. They were slightly chewy but not tough, a tad crispy on the outside and without any doughiness on the inside. These were definitely not those fluffy things you get at Noah's Bagels. I have no idea if these truly are real Jewish bagels, but I will definitely try making bagels again (maybe with this or a different recipe). And I'll definitely try baking other things with yeast. Hopefully I'll have better luck next time.

bagel_stack

If you'd like to try your hand at the "Real Honest Jewish Purist Bagels", you can find the recipe (and a list of links to the other Daring Bakers' bagels) at All Things Edible and Writing at the Kitchen Table.

* When I write my monthly DB challenge post I try not to read the challenge posts by the other Daring Bakers until after I publish mine. But given the talent pool, I'm positive that everyone else's bagels will be cute chubby ones.

36 comments:

Pille said...

Mary, congrats on completing the challenge and successfully using yeast! My bagels had reasonably large holes as well (I used the 'hole-centric method'), but they did become a bit smaller after the second rising..

Anne said...

Mary, at least the hole in the middle was pretty obvious whereas I was having problems making my hole a bit bigger :)

well done!

Baking Soda said...

Congrats on a job well done!

Peabody said...

Welcome to the world of yeast.
One way to "cheat" if you don't see that you are getting much rise is to put your oven broiler on for about 3-5 minutes so that the top of the stove gets a little warm. Then place your proofing bowl on top of that...always helps it along.

sher said...

The snake method was awful for me too. I am now a confirmed hole poker! Great post!

KJ said...

Well done. I was scared of yeast for ages, but now I'll pretty much have a go at anything. It's a whole exciting new world of baking.

Meeta said...

Brilliant Mary. They do look great. I love reading all the posts popping up!!

Ilva said...

mary, they look great! I think that you have been both brave and bravissima doing this as a first yeast baking experiment!

Plume said...

You didn't choose the easiest recipe to try yeast for the first time: I've been baking with yeast since I'm 11 or 12 and I still can't make nice bagels!
But then I never tasted a real bagel because it's very difficult to find in France so I can't compare...

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

I think they look better for not being too perfect - they are a type of bread afterall. Or am I just saying that because mine were a little ugly too...

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Not that yours were ugly - hides head in shame for having typed this! Yours were magnificent artisan bagels!

veron said...

Mary , welcome to the world of yeast...I have not used much of it before either. Your bagels look wonderful! And you are wrong about chubby bagels ....this daring baker (me) had flat ones that could almost be a flying saucer...

Cheryl said...

I like your bagels, I think you did a fine job. Mine actually looked pretty similar to yours.

breadchick said...

Mary, welcome to the joys (and sometimes sorrows) of baking with yeast! Sorry you didn't quite get the big fluffy bagels you wanted but I'm glad you are going to keep trying yeast. Great job!! I'm so excited to have you join us 'yeast sisters'.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Mary, they look wonderful! Mine almost didn't have a hole.

I think it was a wonderful way of starting with yeast.

gilly said...

Hi Mary, I'm glad you had a chance to play around with yeast - even if they didn't turn out quite as you expected. I hope you continue to play around with baking yeasted treats!

Quellia said...

I think your bagels look just great! Similar to plain bagels that I have seen at the bagel stores around here, so not ugly at all!
Good work on the challenge!

Ivonne said...

Hi Mary,

Congratulations on losing your yeast virginity ... now there's something I never thought I'd write!

I think your bagels look great and mine actually turned out a lot like yours. Well done!

Helen said...

I was going to suggest what Pea. said, works everytime.
Welcome to the world of yeast and congrats on completing the challenge, they look great!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting your bagels even though they aren't perfect. It's encouraging for an amateur baker like me to see that not everything turns out perfectly the first time, even for an experienced baker!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Big holes no holes (bagel butt crack), it's a challenge.
Being Daring isn't about perfect. So glad you are daring and took things to a conclusion. Just know that there will be great success with yeast yet. Mark my words.

Jerry said...

I like the fact that they are fossils! Cute!
Oh and yeast is fun. Pizza dough is a lot easier!

Maria said...

I am glad you tried these bagels. I think they turned out great and they have character:) I made cinnamon raisin ones for my first time and they were so fun!

Kelly-Jane said...

Mine weren't smooth either, but it was good fun, great post well done!

Elle said...

Mary, welcome to the yeast world. Glad that your experience was a success. Your bagels look great!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

That was a great post! I am glad to hear I was not the only one who was a bit dis-heartened at times during this process!

waiting4jk said...

Great blog! Everyone has their talents and interests, and I can certainly see yours! Keep experimenting, and I look forward to viewing your future posts!

Lis said...

Congrats on getting over the yeast "hump"! I'm sorry to hear the bagels weren't what you were hoping for, but I'm tickled that you enjoyed working with the yeast and the promise that brings of excellent bread posts in the future!

xoxo

Sara said...

I like the 'design' on the bagel in the last picture. Was that one of the snake bagels?

Jenny said...

I'm more a fan of the poke method too, but abandoned it in hopes that the snake method would improve the texture of the bagels. I'm not sure it made that much of a difference though, and I ended up with croiggels since they all came undone in the water.

Amy said...

I think you did a great job with your first yeast baked good and the bagels. Sometimes if I notice that my dough isn't rising, I put the bowl in a warm water bath to speed things along. I was scared of yeast for a long time but now I use instant instead of active dry so I can skip the proofing.

Heather said...

I do hope they tasted good. I have to tell you that I have actually seen bagels in the store that look very similar. It is the taste that matters.

Mary said...

Thanks for the nice comments and the helpful yeast tips.

And Sara - I think that "designed" one was a hole-centric one. I rolled my hole-centric bagels a bit after poking the hole to smooth ragged edges. That's why my holes got so big!

Glenna said...

Mary--I had the same problem with getting them even, and that was with the poke a hole method. I think the biggest challenge of these things is the shaping. I think the color of yours is beautiful!

Chris said...

Yeast...a finicky ingredient! You did great, though! Mine looked like wrinkly prunes...hee hee

Ann said...

I'm having such fun reading these "Daring Bakers" posts.

I'm glad you guys are brave enough to take on the challenge, make the mistakes and then lead the way for the rest of us to hopefully make perfect bagels! :-)