Hi! I have been CRAVING a bagel that I used to order from a bagel shop downtown years ago. It was a cranberry and orange bagel – only slightly sweet, with a soft center and a tender yet crisp outer. Those bagels were handmade and rustic in appearance and texture - nothing at all like what is found on shelves in markets today. Anyway, the bagel shop also offered a choice of cream cheese spreads to go with your bagel. My favorite was a hot green pepper & honey spread. Seriously, it was a match made in heaven! Imagine the slightly sweet bagel infused with cranberry and orange goodness with a creamy spread slightly hot from the peppers, but tempered with just a touch of honey. Hot and Sweet – the Yin and Yang your taste buds flip over…. Yeah, I know, that might be a little over dramatic, but it's what I have been trying to recreate - and I think I've gotten pretty close. Give this recipe a try and let me know if your taste buds flip – if ever so slightly….
First, I would just like to say making bagels at home is not hard. There are however, four distinct steps, so don’t do this on the fly. Read the instructions and have all the tools at hand when you start. Have at least one non-stick baking pan for baking the bagels on. Have a 4-quart sauce pan, large slotted spoon or skimmer and a wire rack for draining the boiled bagels on. My adaptation utilizes a food processor, so if you do not have one, use the same steps but mix everything in a large bowl with a very strong wooden spoon. You may need to knead the dough for about 15 minutes to achieve a smooth and elastic consistency. Now, if you do not have barley malt syrup, you could use honey or even brown sugar. I have tried both, and I must say, if you don’t have malt syrup – get some. If it is not available in your market, or specialty store, you can order it through Amazon (that is what I finally did). Barley malt syrup is called for in most bagel and pretzel recipes for good reason. Once you give bagel making a try, you will be hooked, so make the investment and buy this ingredient. Okay, let’s make bagels….
Skin of One orange – peeled (carefully, you do not want the pith)
Juice of the peeled orange
1 cup dried cranberries
2 cups water ( one for the yeast sponge, and one for the bowl )
2 teaspoons fast acting dry yeast ( you can use bread machine yeast )
3 Tablespoons barley malt syrup ( 2 for the yeast sponge, and one for the boil )
2 Tablespoons canola oil
6 – 7 cups bread flour ( 5 for the processor bowl, and more or less for kneading )
1 Tablespoon salt
First, peel the skin of one orange. Don’t press too hard – you don’t want pith, just the skin. Then cut peelings into smaller pieces and set aside.
Then, to a two cup measuring cup add one cup of warm water. To the water add two Tablespoons of malt syrup and stir well to combine with the water. When the temp is just luke warm, top the water and malt mixture with the yeast and stir with a non-reactive spoon. Set aside for about 15 minutes to proof.
Mixing: Meanwhile, to the bowl of a food processor add 5 cups of bread flour. Then top with the dried cranberries and orange skin. Run on low for a few seconds and then using a spoon lift from the bottom to bring the pieces of cranberries and orange back up. Repeat this process a few times so that the cranberries and orange skin are reduced to smaller pieces. Then, add the salt and pulse twice to combine.
Now, if the yeast has produced a foamy top, you know the yeast is alive and will give you a nice raise. Top the flour mixture in the food processor with the yeast mixture and the oil. Don’t mix yet.
Now, to the same measuring cup the yeast mixture was in, squeeze the juice from the orange you peeled. Then add cool (not cold) water to bring the total measurement to 1 cup.
Now, add the juice/water mixture to the food processor.
Now, run on medium high until a dough ball forms. If you do not get a formed ball, that’s okay. Turn the well combined dough out onto a floured surface and knead in additional bread flour ¼ cup at a time as necessary. Bagel dough should be stiff. Work in as much extra flour as you can comfortably knead. The dough will soften slightly as the gluten develops.
Now, roll the dough into a ball, place in a large oiled bowl, and turn to coat. Cover and let rise until nearly double in size – about 1 hour. I usually put my dough bowl in the microwave to rise. That way it is not affected by temperature fluctuations in the house.
Shaping: Okay, if your dough has nicely raised, it is time to punch it down, but first line one or two (depending on the size you have) baking pans with some wax paper and sprinkle it with a little rye flour if you have it – if not, bread flour will be fine. The rye is a little more grainy which aids in the non-stick we are after.
Now, punch down the dough and turn it out onto a floured surface. Knead briefly and then cut in half, likewise the halves and those in thirds so you have 12 equal sections of dough.
One by one, roll each section into a ball and then press your thumb through the middle. Then, pinch and pull to make the hole a little more than 1 inch wide.
When you have the desired shape, place the bagel on the floured wax paper. Evenly space the bagels in the pan/pans and then cover. I find a pan cover to be best, but if you do not have one, lay wax paper or a damp tea-towel over the bagels and let them rest and puff up – about 10 to 20 minutes.
Boiling: Bagels are boiled before they are baked. While they are proofing, fill a 4-quart saucepan two-thirds full with cold water. Add the 1 remaining tablespoon of malt syrup and bring to a boil. While the water is warming up to a boil, fill a shallow roasting pan two-thirds full of water and place it in the oven on a rack right above the heating element. Place a second rack in the middle of the oven. Turn the oven on for a 475 degrees F. pre-heat.
Okay, when the water/malt mixture has come to a boil, stir the foam down and then, two at a time gently lower the bagels into the boiling water. Boil them for one minute on one side and then turn them. Boil on the other side for one minute and then turn again. Boil for another few seconds and then remove with a slotted spoon and place the boiled bagel onto a wire rack to drain. Continue the process until you have just enough bagels boiled to place on a baking sheet and then bake.
Baking: Bagels are baked with steam. When you see steam on the window of your pre-heated oven, you know it is ready to receive the baking sheet of bagels. ***NOTE*** Stand off to the side when you open the oven door to avoid the escaping steam (this whoosh is very brief). Then, quickly place the baking sheet into the oven. Bake for 14 minutes (I know it’s hard, but don’t open the oven door to peek, because you do not want to lose the steam). Stand to the side and open the oven, then quickly turn each bagel over so the other side will brown. Shut the door and bake another 6 minutes.
Okay, as the first batch of bagels are baking, bring the pot of water back to a boil with more water if needed. When the non-stick pan has been removed from the oven and the bagels removed, place the pan over a bowl or something to allow air to pass over and under to cool off quickly. Then, when the other batch of bagels have been boiled and drained, load the pan up and place them in the oven as done with the first batch. Repeat the process.
Bagels are best enjoyed the day they are baked. Serve them when they have rested for about 10 minutes after baking, toasted, or at room temperature. They freeze quite well and are best when defrosted slowly.
Slice them in half and enjoy with plain or flavored cream cheese spreads. Here are some suggestions:
Hot Green Pepper and Honey Cream Cheese Spread:
4 ounces softened cream cheese
2 Tablespoons well drained chopped green chilies (more or less depending on how much heat you desire)
1 teaspoon honey (more or less depending on how sweet you desire)
Using an electric mixer with just one beater, mix on low to medium until well blended.
Apricot and Walnut Cream Cheese Spread:
4 ounces softened cream cheese
1 Tablespoon Apricot Preserves ( I use Hero brand )
1 Tablespoon chopped walnuts