Wednesday 2 May 2012

{Ratio Rally} Bagels

How long has it been since you've had a bagel? And I mean a real bagel, not just round-shaped bread with a hole in the middle...which is how every commercially-available GF "bagel" I've tried is best described - some aren't bad at all, but they're also not bagels. A bagel, as you probably know, is more chewy on the outside (rather than crusty) because of the way it's poached before baking. It's also more dense inside - which means bagels adapt to gluten-free surprisingly well compared to some other gluten-heavy foods. Really! They taste like bagels! (And that's coming from my boyfriend, who spent part of his childhood in New York City, so I'll trust him on how bagels should taste.) And now you can have a bagel, too. Or several - there are quite a few different kinds of bagels in this month's roundup, hosted by Morri at Meals with Morri!

The ratio I used was approximately 5 parts flour:3 parts water. This is different than the ratio for wheat bagels; while some GF recipes need more liquid than wheat flour, this needed a higher amount of liquid than I was expecting to make a smooth dough. I think part of the reason may be because I used larger-than-usual proportions of some flours which can hold a lot of water, including oat flour. I haven't had a chance to try the recipe with other flour blends to see how much of a difference it makes. (Many GF flour blends are 40% whole grain and 60% starch, but for this recipe I used a blend containing 60% whole grain because I like bagels which are more hearty than an "all-purpose" type flour would make.)

Don't be intimidated by the long set of instructions - bagels are boiled before baking, so there are a few extra steps in here, but I felt like they were actually fairly easy to make.

Like most of my recipes, this recipe calls for some ingredients and techniques that may be different from the gluten-free recipes you are used to. If you're new to this blog, please take a look at this post and this one for a quick introduction.

Classic Poppyseed Bagels
Makes 12 bagels

For the Sponge:
240 g Brown rice flour
160 g Oat flour (make sure it's certified gluten-free; many oats are cross-contaminated)
80 g Buckwheat flour
2 tsp yeast
480 mL warm water

Other ingredients:
300 g Tapioca flour
20 g Potato flour (not the same as potato starch; see note on my Ingredients page)
4 T Psyllium husks
1 tsp Pomona's Pure Citrus Pectin (see note on my Ingredients page)
1 T Molasses
1 T Honey 
15 g Sea salt
1 tsp yeast
2 T grapeseed oil or other high-heat oil

2 L water, for poaching
1/2 T baking soda, for poaching
1 T sugar, for poaching (optional)
Rice flour, for dusting baking stone

The night before you want to make the bagels, combine the dry ingredients for the sponge, including yeast, in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your mixer. Stir in the water. Cover bowl and let the sponge ferment for 8-12 hours. 

The next morning, mix together tapioca flour, potato flour, psyllium, pectin, salt in a separate bowl. Stir the molasses, honey, and extra 1tsp yeast into the sponge, then add about half the flour mixture. Mix well by hand or using a mixer on the lowest setting (I find the paddle attachment works better than a dough hook). Mix in the rest of the flour blend, then add the oil. 

The dough may look very crumbly at first, but after 1-2 minutes of mixing it should begin to come together to form a stiff dough. (If the dough crumbles or falls apart when you squeeze a handful, mix in more water 1T at a time until the dough is stiff but smooth.)

Now, on a baking sheet, flatten the dough out into a large, thin rectangle, brush the surface with water, sprinkle the baking powder evenly over it, and roll it up (all this is demonstrated here). Use a dough scraper or knife to slice the dough log into 12 pieces, as if making cinnamon rolls. Use wet hands to smooth out the "seams" of each piece as you form it into a flattened round, and use your thumb to poke a hole in the middle. Cover all the shaped bagels with a damp cloth or damp paper towels and set the tray in a warm place to rise for about an hour.

After the bagels have been rising for about 45 minutes, pre-heat the oven with a floured baking stone to 230ºC/450ºF, and heat 2L of water in a wide pot over medium-high heat. (It is important to measure the water, to ensure you are using the right concentration of baking soda - this is necessary for bagels' characteristic taste and texture!) When the water begins to simmer, add the baking soda (and sugar, if using). With the water still simmering, use a spatula to transfer 3-4 bagels to the pot. Let them simmer for 1-2 minutes, flip them over and poach for an additional minute. (The bagels will appear to keep rising the longer they are in the pot, but don't let them poach more than 1-2 minutes per side or they will soak up too much water!) Use a spatula to remove them from the water and allow them to rest on a rack for several minutes before putting them in the oven - use this time to sprinkle with poppyseeds or other toppings. (If they are too wet when you put them in the oven they will stick to the baking stone.) Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until they appear nicely browned and easily come off the baking stone.

~Check out the rest of this month's Rally recipes at Meals with Morri!~

P.S. - Want to see fresh, gluten-free, real food more widely available? You can help make it happen! Simone of Zenbelly Catering is trying to open a 100% gluten-free shared kitchen, which would serve as a community work space for people who want to use certified gluten-free ingredients, as well as a space for an organic, celiac-safe catering company and a coffeeshop serving locally-made gluten-free baked goods. And I think it's a really, really wonderful idea. Visit Simone's Kickstarter page to contribute, or to learn more about how you can help. Below is a short video from the Kickstarter page which explains Simone's vision for the project more fully:
This project will only happen if the funding goal is reached by May 20th! Remember that even if you're not in the San Francisco area, opening this kitchen could help pave the way for more recognition of gluten-free needs everywhere, and help demonstrate that there is a market for local, sustainably-produced food.