Monday, March 22, 2010

we all know how important these things are.

I have a lot to say about bagels. I have eaten quite a few of them in my life. I have buried many of them in my backyard due to intense bagel overhauls left over after large "gotta-feed-lots-of-people-oh-what-will-we-do-it-with" community events have come and went. I am guilty of large-scale bagel heists routinely performed at ungodly hours of the morning at an undisclosed campus dining establishment. For these reasons and more, bagels are important to me. So, I figured it was about time I learned how to craft them myself.

A real downer in this situation is that by making bagels yourself, you will be missing out on the trademark sass or charm of a bagel counter employee. I am referring to most New York City bagelries, as the help at the local joints are either too sweet to be charming or too mean to be sassy. Once you've made them, have a friend stand opposite you and fix one for you while they either critique your lack of an umbrella on such a rainy day, or compliment your hair's finesse. Or, both! It will help if they yell. I don't want to think we live in a world where we can't recreate the joys of a NYC bagel shop.

This recipe is from the beloved Isa Chandra Moskowitz's new vegan brunch cookbook, with a few of my own adjustments and embellishments. I am indebted to the lady, always.

You will need:

3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cup lukewarm water
2.5 tablespoons of dry active yeast
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
2 teaspoons salt
vegetable oil for the rising bowl
any bagel toppings you want (onion flakes, sesame seeds in this case)

So, to start off, dissolve one tablespoon of the sugar in the water. Add the yeast.

In a separate big mixing bowl, mix together everything else (except the vegetable oil and bagel toppings, and remember to add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar). 

Add the yeast mixture and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is neither dry nor wet, but a good amount of tacky. I busted out my Kitchen-aid mixer to get this job done lickety split. I will be honest and say I don't get as much use out of the thing as I really really should, but that doesn't mean I love, cherish, and respect it any less. If you have one, use it! Get out the dough hook, and after sticking it into your long-sleeve shirt sleeve and pretending it is a deadly weapon, affix it to the machine and get mixing! It doesn't take long, just keep an eye on it and make sure it is all mixing well.

Oil up a bowl and put your dough in it. Cover it with a damp cloth and let it sit for an hour. 

Put a large pot of salted (about 2 teaspoons) water on the stove to boil. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Release your dough after its hour in the oil slammer and cut it up into 12 equal pieces. 

For larger bagels, cut them into fewer pieces. If you'd like tiny bagels (for replicating bagel bites? if you do this please invite me over), cut them into more pieces. 

By hand, roll each piece into a ball, and fold it back on itself with your thumbs until a hole appears in the center. Widen it a bit, until it is a little under an inch wide. 

Isa suggests patting them in the bagel topping at this stage, but I would advise to wait until after the boiling, myself. The water seemed to shove off most of the toppings, and I added more afterwards.

Once your water is boiling, plunk a few of the bagel forms in at a time, however many your pot size will house floating at the top. 

They should pop up pretty quickly and float, but if they don't, just nudge them up from the bottom. Reduce your water to a lighter simmer, and let them boil for one minute on each side, then switch them out for new bagels. Be careful to not burn yourself as you get them out of the water!

Now, put your toppings out on saucers and pat your bagels in them on both sides, or sprinkle them on top. I did onion flakes and sesame seeds, but poppy seeds and garlic and salt and everything would be rad, too! Put jalapenos on top, see if I care! (Again, if you do the jalapeno thing, please invite me over.)

When all your bagels have been boiled and topped to your satisfaction, lightly oil up baking sheets and arrange them. 

Bake them for 20 minutes, or until they have browned nicely. Due to a rather unsuitable oven situation at my house, I neglected mine a touch and they are a little browner than I would have liked. But there's always next time! Let them cool for a half hour and then eat the heck out of them! 

I slathered mine in coconut oil

It is hard for me to not slather everything in my life in coconut oil, so bagels are of no exception. You know very well what you like on your bagels, so go to town with it! I have yet to find a legitimate vegan cream cheese recipe that does not rely on tofu, so I have nothing to share on that front. I know that stuff can be delicious and all (the clouds in my dreams are sometimes made of la bagel delight's vegetable tofu cream cheese), but in all honesty, it all usually just scares me. I mostly stick to hummus when I order bagels out. The bakery's is so stuffed with garlic that after devouring, any possibility of a spontaneous and torrid wedding proposal from a stranger is completely eliminated. And getting proposed to by a vampire? Even less plausible! I take these small victories when I can.


  1. those look great! i heard that the bakery doesnt boil their bagels first, and hence they are not an authentic NY bagel. anyways, bagel heists are risky business, and it cant hurt to shut the lights and hide for a few minutes after, to ensure your success.

  2. shit. i hate my life. i should be eating bagels with you. food dogs: coming soon.

  3. TESTIFY! This is one of the best bagels I've ever had. And I'm a bagel before work kind of guy.