Among my desires to make my own foodstuffs that are readily available at bakeries, markets and the like, making my own bagels might seem like it would rank high on the unreasonable-meter. But, I actually have a very good reason for making these bagels from scratch (which was incredibly fun and surprisingly easy, but more on that later). The reason is essentially this: I like to have my cake and eat it too. You see, my favorite bagel topping is sesame seeds. As in, I prefer every square inch of my bagels to be covered in the crunchy seeds. But, I rarely eat non-whole grain breads. So, every time I step up to the counter at the bagel shop, I’m faced with a terrible choice: opt for my favorite topping and forsake my flour of choice (whole wheat), or vice versa.
Clearly, this was a travesty that needed remedying. So, I set out to find a whole wheat bagel recipe, fully intending to absolutely smother the bagels with whatever toppings I so chose. In my bagel recipe search, I saw many that came from big names in the bread-baking world (Peter Reinhart, Nancy Silverton, Rose Levy Beranbaum). Sadly, I didn’t see any whole wheat recipes. Feeling like I was back at the aforementioned bagel counter all over again, I resolved to dig deeper.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
Eventually, I found a whole wheat recipe on King Arthur Flour‘s site. I was comforted by the source because, god (and Kevin) knows, I have my fair share of King Arthur products in my pantry. But I was a little alarmed by one feature of the recipe: its brevity. The other recipes I’d seen had breathtaking word counts and scary levels of detail. But this one? It looked so accessible, so doable. Could it really be so easy?
Well, I am oh so happy to report that yes!, it’s possible to make great bagels without a mind-boggling amount of steps and instructions. And, most importantly (in my mind), yes!, whole wheat sesame seed bagels are every bit as perfect as I imagined them to be. And can I just tell you: it is so cool to pull a pan of piping hot, shiny, swollen bagels out of the oven on a Sunday morning. Much better than weighing your (imperfect) options at the bagel shop.
Whole Wheat Bagels
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 cups (16 ounces) water, warm
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon diastatic malt powder (optional)
3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
1 tablespoon salt
Dissolve the yeast in the water and add the sugars and the malt. Add 1 cup of the Bread Flour and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, to give the yeast a chance to get going. Add all of the White Whole Wheat Flour, mixing well. Add the salt, then the rest of the Special Flour, mixing in a cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead, adding more flour as necessary, until it’s smooth and satiny. As a result of the Bread Flour’s higher protein, you’ll want to knead it longer than you would dough made with all-purpose flour; make sure that the dough is really springy before you stop kneading it. Cover the dough with a damp towel, and let it rest for 20 minutes.
Divide the dough into 14 pieces and roll each piece into a rope 8 to 9 inches long and 3/4 inch wide. Form each rope into a circle and join the ends, pressing well to seal. Place the bagels on a tray that’s been dusted with cornmeal, cover them lightly with plastic wrap, and let them rise for 30 minutes. Secure the plastic wrap around the edges (you don’t want the bagels to dry out), and place the pan in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours.
Remove the bagels from the refrigerator and let them rest at room temperature for 45 minutes. While they’re resting, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, and preheat the oven to 450°F.
Place a few bagels at a time in the pot and cook for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, or until they’ve risen to the top. Remove them with a slotted spoon or flat strainer, and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet.* Bake the bagels for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they’re brown and their internal temperature registers 180°F on an instant-read thermometer. (If your oven is intensely hot at the bottom, nest a second baking pan underneath the first 10 minutes into the baking time. This will diffuse the heat, eliminating the problem of scorched bagel bottoms.) Remove the bagels from the oven, and cool them on racks.
Yield: 14 bagels.
Kristin’s Note: After boiling the bagels, I brushed them with a lightly-beaten egg white and sprinkled them liberally with sesame and/or poppy seeds.