Do you like your bagels steamed or boiled? That is the question.
To be honest, before I made them myself, I didn’t have a clue. If someone had told me – I know the place to get the best hand rolled, steamed bagels, I would say GREAT! Lead the way! Being not from Bagel-land, I had no idea what makes a great bagel. A little research has unearthed the fact that bagel afficionados prefer the boiled bagel. It’s the way they “used to do it” before places with the 6 inch Cinnamon Crunch bagel took over the world (not naming any names here).
What does boiling do exactly? Well, it gives the bagel a little bit of a chewy crust. And really, you when you make these, you will realize this makes all the difference in the world. The water doesn’t really penetrate very far into the dough during boiling (something about the starches gelatinizing), so there is this very slight crust that is formed that forms when baking. You will notice the little bit of crunch on the crust that you just don’t get from steamed bagels. And the bagels themselves are chewier. To be honest, they rule. The little bit of crust is the “holy cow – these are so much better” that willl set your homemade, boiled bagels apart from the ones you get at the local bagel shop (well, alright, unless you are lucky enough to live by a place that actually boils their bagels. Most don’t though - it is too labor intensive a process).
Next up, of course, there is the water controversy. As in, “bagels can only be made from water from Brooklyn. The End”. Well, what’s a Chicaogoan to do? I mean, I COULD import water like this Bagel place. Alas, I think good old Chicago tap will have to do.
Alright, making your own bagels takes time, but it isn’t hard. It is a two day process. Which is actually ok because you want your bagels fresh, first thing in the morning, right? So get to it. You won’t be disappointed.
The recipe I used is from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread, which, if you haven’t already checked this book out and are interested in baking, GET THIS BOOK PRONTO (and if you don’t want to get the book, head over to Smitten Kitchen for the recipe). It is bread making demystified. And if you are interested in learning bread making with a whole mess of people from around the world, get in on the BBA Challenge (I, personally, cannot bring myself to bake bread every week, but I will s-l-o-w-l-y work my way through the book on my own).
Oh – one note – I caramelized some onions to use as a topper. I would not recommend doing that. They are just way too greasy. Instead – I would probably purchase onion flakes or some sort of dehydrated onion product. Just my two cents.
Finally – storage. I stored mine on the counter on a plate…loosely wrapped in plastic wrap for maybe 3 days. I would have stored them in the freezer, but we had company that weekend and managed to blow through the whole batch pretty quickly. I would not, under any circumstances, stick them in the fridge.
Ms. Pantry Raid