Classic Bagels (baked in a barbecue)

March 15, 2013 · 5 comments

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I met my friend Ana about a year ago. I had recently started my contract work as writer/photographer/blogger for Gathering Together Farm, and Ana was working as the pastry chef in the GTF restaurant. I liked her from the get-go, and even though, like many folks, I’ve found it harder and harder to connect with new friends as I’ve gotten older, it was not hard at all to connect with Ana. She’s fun and funny and level-headed (mostly) and likes to complain about all the same things that I like to complain about. She’s also a pastry wizard. If she doesn’t already know how to make or bake something, she’ll delve into culinary research with the intensity of a serious academic.

I had high hopes that Ana and I would work on many a blog collaboration. She could develop recipes and coach me on techniques. I could take the photos and write up the recipes. We did this last fall when Ana passed along her love of quince, and together we baked a quince and meyer lemon meringue pie in my barbecue. (I’ve also shared her chocolate Guinness cake recipe.) In November, Ana went off on a six-week European vacation with plans to eat her way across four or five countries as well as visit family, and I awaited her return, wishing we could get back to our regular barbecue baking and gossiping sessions.

Ana did return…but she had some big news. She had met a man and was moving to Ireland. My first reaction was “NOOOOOOOO…” (I literally texted that to her.), but after hearing the whole crazy story, actually meeting the guy, and reflecting on my own selfish motives for wanting her to stay, I had to change my tune. While I still think she’s sort of nuts, I really admire her open mindedness, faith in spite of everyone’s objections, and courage to pick up and move to a mostly unknown place. I will really really miss her, BUT she’s here for few more weeks, and after that, I hope to keep in touch with the help of the internet. And, hey, maybe this would be a good excuse to visit Ireland?

Anyway, I’m hoping we can squeeze in a few more baking projects soon, and any locals can enjoy her fresh pastries at the Gathering Together Farm restaurant for a while longer, too.

About bagels…

I saw these bagels pop up on Ana’s Instagram feed, and they seemed like the perfect challenge. I’d actually made bagels before on my own, but they were doughy and disappointing. I wanted hearty and chewy and joy-inducing, and that’s exactly what I got when Ana came over and baked these at my house. It seems like a backhanded compliment to say that these bagels taste like store-bought bagels, but I mean that in a good way. Also, the fact that there’s only one slow rise before poaching and baking makes them pretty easy as far a bagel recipes go.

Notes:

Ana picked up a basic version of this recipe when she was in pastry school. The measurements presented here are in grams, so you’ll need a scale with metric units. (I’m usually a measuring cup girl, myself, but I’m also aware that the “right” way to measure ingredients while baking is to use a scale, so I finally sucked it up and bought a relatively inexpensive but totally functional battery-powered kitchen scale.)

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This is a very basic recipe that invites the baker to creatively add flavors. Feel free to throw in up to a cup of tasty extras such as cranberries, sun-dried tomatoes, herbs, grated cheese, chocolate chips, whole grains, or any of the usual (or unusual) bagel flavors. If you’re going to add grains or other ingredients that will potentially soak up a lot of moisture, you’ll need to add a bit more water. You can double this recipe, but personally, I prefer to make two single batches, each with its own flavor ingredients.

You’ll need to mix the dough and form the bagels the day before you want to bake them, so plan accordingly. I didn’t have enough room in my fridge for two baking sheets, so I left my pans outside overnight. This is probably fine if it’s not too warm out, and you can keep critters away from your dough.

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When you’re forming the bagels, make the holes significantly bigger than you think they should be in the end. The dough is quite elastic and will spring back as well as swell up, so if the hole is too small, you will end up with rolls that have bellybuttons. (I would know. It happened to me.)

After the long rise, try to handle the dough as little as possible because it will easily stretch and then deflate. (I didn’t follow this advice on my first try at this recipe, and I learned my lesson.) Ana taught me the trick of giving each formed bagel its own square of parchment paper because it’s much easier to peel the paper off the bagel (especially when it’s in the poaching liquid) than to peel the bagel off the paper.

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To bake these in my propane barbecue, I preheat the grill with four fire bricks and my Lodge cast iron baking pan (an item I consider pretty much essential for barbecue baking) on top. When my bagels are ready, I balance a thin cookie sheet with the bagels on top of the cast iron handles of the baking pan and then pour water under the cookie sheet onto the extremely hot cast iron baking pan to create a rush of steam.

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Classic Bagels

recipe from Ana Patty

yield: 9 bagels

 
185 grams whole wheat flour
370 grams bread flour
11 grams salt
6 grams active dry yeast
20 grams sugar
 
316 grams warm water
11 grams honey
 
up to a cup of flavoring ingredients
parchment paper 
 
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons salt

Preheat a propane barbecue and all insulating/steam creation equipment on medium high.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Add the water and honey as well as any flavoring ingredients. Stir to combine and then turn out the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, adding pinches of flour when necessary until the dough is smooth, elastic, and no longer sticky.

Divide the dough into 9 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball. Poke your finger through the center of each ball and gently stretch and spin the dough until the hole is fairly large. Cut out 9 approximately 5″-inch square pieces of parchment paper, and place each bagel on its own parchment square on a baking sheet. Refrigerate for 12-24 hours.

Bring approximately four quarts of water to a low boil in a large pot. Add the 2 tablespoons of honey and 2 teaspoons salt to the water. One at a time, place each bagel parchment-paper-side-up into the water, and then gently peel the paper off the dough, trying not to stretch or disturb the shape. Poach the bagels one at a time for 30 seconds on each side. Do not over poach them. If the holes appear to be closing up, insert the end of a wooden spoon in the center of the bagel and gently spin the dough around the spoon. Remove from the poaching liquid with a slotted spoon and allow to drain on a wire rack until dry to the touch, about 10 minutes. Do not let them sit in pooled liquid. Gently place the bagels on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Place the baking sheet in the barbecue atop the preheated insulation equipment (see notes). Pour water on preheated cast iron implements to create steam and quickly close the lid of the barbecue. Open the barbecue after 8 minutes, letting  out any remaining steam, and check to see if the bagels are cooking evenly. If the bagels around the edge of the baking sheet are browning more quickly, rotate them to the center. Bake another 15-20 minutes until the bagels are golden brown.*

*Alternately, you can preheat an oven to 400°, and bake the bagels there. You’ll still need to create sort of steam creation device like throwing in ice cubes when you start baking the bagels.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

rona b. March 16, 2013 at 12:02 am

wow this looks so yummy. :)

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Michele March 18, 2013 at 7:33 am

awesome recipe. my dad was a bagel baker for 40ish years. NY bagels are usually baked on a wooden plank covered with burlap until the top is dry then ‘flipped’ onto the oven shelf. one of my favorite childhood activities was getting to bake at the oven with my dad :) you could probably simulate this in the oven by gently fliping the bagels onto a hot pizza stone in the oven once the tops are dry (one by one with a tong would probably be easiest i guess). i’m going to have to try this myself since i don’t have access to a gas bbq here in philly. can’t wait to try!!

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Ellen March 30, 2014 at 6:21 am

I tried to make these, but my bagels stayed very flat with large holes after the overnight rise. How did you get yours to be so big and fluffy?!

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Camille April 4, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Is your yeast still viable? Did you let them rise long enough? Did you let them rise too long? Did you handle them too much before poaching so that they deflated?

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