Easy Sourdough Bagels: No Boiling Required
A recipe for two-ingredient bagels is making the rounds of the internet. The recipe may have originated with Weight Watchers, but it's hard to tell. The instructions call for mixing a cup of self-rising flour with a cup of Greek yogurt for the dough, shaping the bagels, brushing them with egg (ingredient three, but maybe it's optional), and baking the bagels for about half an hour. The on-line reviews say the bagels are pretty good. Maybe. I liked the idea of skipping the traditional bagel boiling process, but I decided to see if I could come up with a sourdough bagel that would be yeasty, chewy, and more like traditional bagels than a baking-powder-leavened version. The answer is yes. I did use yogurt in the bagels to give them extra protein and chew, but I used regular non-fat yogurt rather than Greek, and I also veered away from most of the other instructions. In addition to using a whole-wheat based starter, I added white-whole wheat flour to my bagels. I made the bagels in the morning and let them rise all day. They were ready to bake by dinner time, and, as I heated the oven, I brushed them with an egg wash and sprinkled on sesame seeds. The bagels smelled great as they baked and came out quite well--like you'd expect real bagels to taste. Yeasty, chewy, full of flavor, and with an added tang from the sourdough process. The sourdough bagels are a far cry from the usual grocery store hockey pucks and are more reminiscent of bakery-style bagels. I like plain bagels with sesame seeds on top, so that's what I made. Nonetheless, you could easily substitute other toppings or add ins. Maybe opt for poppy seed bagels, cinnamon-raisin bagels, or "everything bagels," for example. The recipe makes a big batch of smallish bagels, so you'll have plenty to share.
Easy Sourdough Sesame Bagels -- Makes about 24
2 cups of sourdough starter/discard
2 cups of plain, fat-free yogurt (I used regular, not Greek)
2 cups of white whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons of salt
3-4 cups of all-purpose flour
1-2 teaspoons of water
In a large bowl, combine the starter/discard and the yogurt. Stir in the white whole wheat flour and salt. Gradually stir in 3 cups of the all-purpose flour to form a soft dough. Knead in most of the last cup of flour and continue kneading the dough for about 5 minutes until it's soft and not too sticky to handle easily. Flour a sheet of waxed paper with the remaining flour. Break off golf ball sized pieces of the dough and roll them on the floured waxed paper to form 5-6-inch "snakes." Join the ends of the "snakes to form bagel/donut shapes and place the shaped dough on baking sheets coated with non-stick cooking spray or lined with parchment. Leave a couple of inches between each of the formed bagels so they have room to expand. Coat the formed bagels with non-stick cooking spray and cover them with plastic wrap. Set the bagels aside to rise, which should take 8-12 hours, depending on the temperature of your room. I formed my bagels around 8:30 AM, and they were ready to bake by 6:30 PM. You may have to press a finger or the end of a wooden spoon in the center of each bagel to open up the holes a little, as the holes tend to disappear as the bagels rise. When you're ready to bake the bagels, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and whisk together the egg and water in a small bowl or cup until they're well combined. Brush each bagel well with the egg wash. Sprinkle the top of each bagel with sesame seeds (about 1/2 a teaspoon or so). Bake the bagels for about 20 minutes until they're just beginning to brown. Turn up the oven to 450 degrees and bake the bagels for about 5 minutes more, watching them carefully to ensure they become golden (i.e., you want them golden brown, not burned. I have to set a timer, particularly around dinner time, so I don't get distracted and risk burning the bagels. Oops.). Let the bagels cool a little before you try to eat them. They are great warm out of the oven, but they also keep well--better than most bakery bagels.