10 June 2012

Double Poppy Seed Bagels

When I married my husband, I married into a familial passion for poppy seed bagels.  His entire immediate family goes nuts for these things.  But not any old poppy seed bagel.  They must be crusty on the outside, soft on the inside, and they must be boiled.  Every time we get together, it seems we go to the best local bagel shop and get a dozen poppy seed, only to discuss how they aren't quite right.  They have high bagel standards.

I am a big fan of seed bagels.  My personal favorite is sesame seed, but poppy seed is a very close second.  But with only 3 days left until the hub's medical boards, I wanted to make him a special treat with real, homemade bagels, boiled, crispy and chewy.  While these didn't get quite as crispy as I wanted, the result was still delicious enough to text a "you're jealous of this" picture to his father.

One thing that always bugs me about seed bagels is that the seeds are only on one side.  Sure, the top is delicious and if you make a bagel sandwich, you're good to go.  But what if you just want one quickly toasted with butter?  Or if you're feeling like an open-faced sammy?  Your top may be delicious, but your bottom is just regular bagel.  So I decided to pump up the poppy with these bagels, adding seeds to the batter as well as on top.  

And the result was delicious.  Poppy favor permeates every bite, top and bottom, making for a doubly delicious bagel.  These are delicious toasted with a little butter, topped with jam or in a sandwich.  Basically, they're poppy seed bagels on steroids.  But not in a scary way.

If you've never made bagels before, don't be afraid!  This recipe is actually very easy.  You start by creating a sponge, which is basically a prepped yeast base.  It makes for a much yeastier, plumper and much better tasting bagel.  It's sort of a gloppy yeast glue. Just add a few more ingredients and you have a stiff bread dough.

These bagels will keep great fresh for a few days and also freeze well, too.  We made two sizes - monster bagels (4 1/2 oz dough) and small-ish bagels (2 1/2 oz).  I was going for mini bagels but didn't make them quite small enough (next time I'll cut them down to 2 oz).  The dough balls may seem small to start, but trust me when I say they grow a LOT! 

Props to Peter Reinhart's bagel recipe for the inspiration!  I changed up a few things, but his basic recipe is terrific.  

Double Poppy Seed Bagels (12-26 bagels depending on size)

For the sponge:
  • 1 tsp yeast 
  • 2 c warm water
  • drizzle honey
  • 3 c bread flour or high-yeast
For the dough:
  • 3 1/2 - 4 1/2 c bread flour (I used all-purpose and it was fine)
  • 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 2 tbs poppy seeds
For cooking:
  • baking soda
  • cornmeal
  • poppy seeds
First make your sponge.  In the bowl of an upright mixer, combine the water, yeast and a small drizzle of honey.  Whisk together and let sit for 5-10 minutes, until foamy.  Add the flour and stir until you get a smooth, gloppy mixture.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 2 hours to rise.  The sponge should be doubled in size and full of bubbles when ready.

Next, make your dough.  Add the additional yeast and stir to combine with the paddle attachment of your mixer.  Then add 3 cups of the flour, salt, honey and poppy seeds.  Mix on low speed, adding more flour until a smooth.  Kneed with a dough hook for 6 minutes or by hand for about 10 minutes.  The final result should be stiff and slightly tacky, but not sticky.

Divide the dough into 4 1/2 ounce portions for monster bagels or 2 oz portions for mini bagels.  Form into balls and place on cookie sheets.  Cover with damp towels and let rise for 20 minutes.  To form bagels, poke a hole in the center of the ball with your thumb and rotate, widening the center hole and evenly shaping the bagel.  When all bagels are shaped, line your baking sheets with parchment paper.  Place bagels on the parchment paper, about 1 1/2 - 2 inches apart so they have room to rise.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes.  

To check if the bagels have risen enough, fill a pot with warm water.  Place one bagel in the bowl.  If it floats, it is ready!  If it sinks, gently remove and dry the bagel and let them all rise for another 10 minutes.  When they pass the float test, re-cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.  Let rest and cool at least 6 hours or overnight.

To cook, position a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 500 degrees.  Fill a large, shallow pan or wok with water and bring to a boil.  Add about a tablespoon of baking soda, enough so that it foams up quickly before going back down.  Place bagels in the water and boil for 2 minutes.  Flip and boil for an additional two minutes.    While boiling, flip the parchment paper on the baking sheets over and sprinkle with cornmeal.  Remove bagels with a slotted spatula or spoon and place on the parchment paper.  Sprinkle with poppy seeds.

When you have enough bagels boiled to fill a cookie sheet, place in oven and bake for 5 minutes.  Rotate tray and bake for another 5 minutes, until golden brown.  Remove and let cool for 10 minutes.  

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