Sunday, May 24, 2009

BBA Challenge – Bagels

BBA Bagels

The BBA Challenge is moving along nicely! What this is all about is to bake every single recipe in Peter Reinhart's book Bread Baker's Apprentice. More than 200 bread lovers around the world are engaged in this, sharing findings, successes and failures on blogs, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter and a Google mailing list. (Wow, that really sounds serious, how did I end up in this anyway?) The founder if this adventure is Nicole of Pinch My Salt, who had never dreamt of such interest, but nevertheless has taken on all the administration and management that a group this size requires.

Time for recipe #3, bagels. Our whole family loves bagels. I have actually baked bagels once a long time ago, and as I remembered it, the result was good, but it was quite complicated so I didn't think I'd bother to bake them again. But that was a looong time ago, and of course I'll bake them again, now with Peter Reinhart and the BBA group there to hold my hand.

What makes bagels so special is that you boil them before baking. That makes them chewy in a very special way. According to Peter Reinhart, a true bagel shall also retard in the fridge at least one night before it's baked. The long and slow fermentation lets the flavours develop to the fullest.

I cheated on one thing, and that was substituting honey for malt, which you can't find easily in Sweden. However, I know some online stores where it can be bought, so next time I will do it all correct.

BBA Bagels

The night before, the bagels are ready to be tucked away in the fridge over night.

BBA Bagels

In the morning, have just taken out the bagels from the fridge (and removed the plastic film that covered them).

BBA Bagels

Preparing the toppings: blue poppy seeds, sesame seeds and a herbs & salt mixture.

The first real question mark appeared here: when boiling the bagels, you are supposed to add 1 tbsp of baking soda. And I only had 1/2 tbsp. Would that mean disaster? I threw out a quick question on Twitter, but foolishly didn't hang around to wait for answers, I just let the bagels take a swim with half the amount of baking soda.

When I checked again, a twitter from Wendy of Pink Stripes pointed me to the introduction of the bagel chapter in the BBA, where PR explains which additions to the boiling water that can be used, and why he recommends baking soda. Well, I could have thought of actually reading the book, don't you think?

According to Peter Reinhart, there are many views on what you should add to the water, but the most important factor is actually the time that the bagels spend in the water. However, the baking soda alkalizes the water, which affects the starch on the surface so that a little more shine is added.

Apparently, no big deal about the missing half tbsp of baking soda!

BBA Bagels

Boiling the bagels, three at a time, one minute on each side.

BBA Bagels

They look like me when I have been in the bathtub too long!

BBA Bagels

Add the topping as soon as they come up from the bath.

BBA Bagels

Three bagels without topping as per my husband's request.

Six bagels on each sheet, means baking two sheets at once, that'll be interesting. PR suggests baking them 5 minutes, then let the sheets shift places AND rotate them, and bake another 5 minutes. Swedish electrical ovens are quite small, bit our oven happens to have a hot air function which I used here. I lowered the temp a bit to compensate for that.

And I have to say I'm pretty pleased by the result! They are by no means perfect, but that's not really my ambition.

BBA Bagels

Which one shall I taste first?

BBA Bagels

Mmm, I think I'll start with a poppy seed bagel ...

BBA Bagels

... with philadelphia cheese, serrano ham, rocket and tomatoes.

BBA Bagels

And one with blueberry jam, and one with cherry preserve.

Unfortunately I chose a bagel with herbs & salt for the sweet ones: blueberry + herbs + salt made an interesting combination! The cherries went on the underside of the bagel, which meant no interference there.


Dave Reed said...

Very nice looking bagels!

Jessika said...

I love bagels too and have this nice recipe for them. I tried a Jan Hedh recipe once and it fucked everything up. Back to the "simple" recipe where the bagels looked like yours after cooking and then after having been baked. I don't have much of any feelings of warmth towards Jan Hedh looks impressive but I doubt any recipe were actually cooked for "real" people using a regular kitchen rather than some specialist thingy.

susies1955 said...

Your bagels turned out great. I've got to get one of those skimmer thingies. What are they really called?
I got to thinking through my bagel process and I think I may not have had my oven preheated long enough. I got the boiling down and popped them in the oven too soon. :)
Great job. YUM.

An Out of Town Mom said...

The bagels look awesome! Great job!

görel said...

Thank you all! These were a treat to make, will definitely do them again.

Jessika, I know what you mean about Jan Hedh, but I have actually learned a lot from him too. I guess you have to be a bit more critical when you follow his recipes though!

görel said...

Susie, I haven't a clue of what they are called in English -- perforated ladle? Strainer? Please let me know when you find out! :-)

susies1955 said...

Just did some research online and it is called a SKIMMER! :)

görel said...

Skimmer, of course! Thanks!

Laura said...

I have to admit that, despite having baked bread for a long time with great results, I am a little intimidated by bagels. Some people in the group had problems too.

Looking at your pictures gives me the confidence to push ahead and since Monday is a Holiday in the States, why not start today so we can eat them for brunch tomorrow?

Great work!

Murasaki Shikibu said...

awwwww you're such a good baker. :)

I can almost smell them from here!

görel said...

Laura, thank you! I would be thrilled if something I did could get you or another person over the threshold. That's what this group is all about!

görel said...

Murasaki, thanks!! Head over here, there are still some left ...

Natashya said...

They do look perfect Gorel! So uniform. I am looking forward to making these this week.

Baking Soda said...

Wow! you're doing so good! Bagels already, and they look absolutely nice and plump. Bravo!

pinkstripes said...

YOur bagels turned out gorgeous! I want one of each. And also the sandwich. I'm glad they turned out.

Lien said...

You're still keeping up, very good. Love your bagels, they all looks so alike. When I make bagels they never get so neat looking :D.

Nico said...

very nice, I love your pictures.
I'll post mine today

görel said...

Thanks, all!

Diane Rocha said...

Your bagels look great, Gorel. Very professional! Inspirational!

Cindy said...

Your bagels look amazing. Just like the pictures in PR's book. Your comment on the wrinkly bagels looking like you when you come out of the bath made me laugh. You have a warped sense of humour!

Sweet & Savory said...

They do look delicious - especially the ones with jam (though my favorite is still with cut side toasted topped with thick layer of plain cream cheese!) Very nice job!!

görel said...

Thanks again! Yes, I guess I am a bit warped ... :)

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

Your bagels turned out wonderful and that sandwich looks amazing!!

Devany said...

GREAT looking bagels! They also look like they were tasty! Just out of curiosity, did you form them by method 1 or 2?

Terrific job Svenska Flikka! (not sure I spelled that right!)

Devany, Hilo, HI

görel said...

Thank you! Delaney, I used method #1 I believe -- anyway, the method where you poke a hole with your thumb.

It's spelt flicka, otherwise correct! :-)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Dang you got just gorgeous bagels!
Oh how I wish for any one of your sandwiches ... wonderful.