You know, when I post things like homemade bagels, I get concerned that some people might get the wrong idea about me. See, sometimes when I see people that I know, who read my blog, they say things like, “I don’t know how you do it!” or my favorite, “How do you make these gourmet meals every night?! I can barely heat up the mac ‘n cheese.” I have the uncomfortable feeling that I might be perpetuating the myth that moms with young kids can really keep perfectly clean houses, have perfectly groomed (and well-behaved) kids, and put perfectly nutritious meals on the table three times a day.
If we’re being real here, I hope everyone knows that’s not reality. Or, well, maybe that’s reality for you. (If so, great job! I mean it, give me your tips!) But that’s not me. And that’s not most of the people I know. So yes, I spend lots of time cooking tasty and nutritious foods for my family. But my living room almost always looks like someone broke in and stole everything but the contents of the toy bins. Yes, some days I spend nap time prepping for dinner and coming up with something new and interesting. But sometimes I fall asleep too, while watching BBC shows on Netflix and eating leftover Halloween candy. And yeah, sometimes I make homemade bagels. But you can bet my kitchen is somehow an even bigger disaster than when I started, because I’m trying to be one of those chill moms who lets their toddler “help”.
Everyone has their thing. Some people make the time to work out and they look smokin’. Some people make the time to craft customized lesson plans for their toddlers involving sensory and fine-motor skill activities and their kids will blow my kids out of the water in preschool. Some people make the time to clean their house until it shines and they will never be haunted by the feeling that they may be growing a weapon of mass destruction behind their toilet. We’re all doing the best we can, we do the little things that make us feel sane and just a wee bit in control. My thing is cooking. So I do it. I do it when I’ve got some free time, I do it with my kids when I’m feeling brave, I do it when I just need to throw something together so we can all eat dinner and go to bed, for the love of God.
So… with that out of the way, yes, I made bagels. They were delicious and fun and we had a good time making them. I’m not saying I’m in any competition with any New York City bagel shops here, but I loved these. They were soft in the center with a perfectly characteristic chewiness to the crust, and the flavor was pretty awesome. The closest I can liken them to is the kind you get at Panera. Which, I know, true bagel aficionados might scoff at, but hey, I like them! They tasted amazing with just a smear of cream cheese. I’m thinking it might be fun, though, to make them for a brunch, and do a bagel-bar type of thing, where people can customize their bagels with all kinds of yummy toppings.
And for the record, since we’re having an honesty session, no, I’m not pulled together enough to do any such thing. But maybe you are. Like I said, give me your tips! But if you’re like me, just know that you’re doing a great job doing your own thing, whether or not you do things like make homemade bagels. Sometimes heating up the mac ‘n cheese is plenty.
adapted from The All-Purpose Baking Cookbook
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 4 cups unbleached bread flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon malt-powder, brown sugar, or malt barley syrup
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- Water Bath:
- 2 quarts water
- 2 tablespoons malt powder, brown sugar, or malt barley syrup
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 egg white
- 1 tablespoon water
- sesame seeds, poppyseeds, cheese, etc.
In a mixing bowl, combine all dough ingredients and knead, using a dough hook attachment, for about 10 minutes on low speed. (If you're kneading by hand, it'll be more like 15 minutes.) The dough will be very stiff, but that's good!
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and let it rise for about and hour and a half. It won't necessarily double in bulk, but it will definitely puff up a bit.
Transfer the dough to a board or counter and divide it into 8 even pieces. One at a time, roll each piece into a smooth round ball. It might be tough, but just do your best. When you're finished, cover balls with plastic wrap or a clean dry towel and allow to rest for half an hour.
While the dough is resting, prepare the water bath by combining all water bath ingredients in a large, wide pan. Bring it to a slow, rolling boil.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Using your index finger, poke a hole through the middle of each ball of dough, then slowly widen the hole so that it's approximately 2" wide. (It'll spring back a bit when you're done; that's fine.) Now transfer the bagels, 4 at a time, to the slowly boiling water bath. Cook the bagels for two minutes, then flip and cook for another minute. Remove the bagels from the water and places them on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the bagels.
If you are topping your bagels with some kinds of seeds:
In a small bowl, beat egg white and water until foamy. Then brush the egg wash on top of each bagel. Sprinkle seeds on top. If you're using cheese, no need to use the wash; just sprinkle the tops of the bagels with cheese.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the color is to your liking. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack before slicing and enjoying.