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Nothing Beats Bagels Fresh from the Oven
Ah November. Your bad reputation is undeserved. Heavy sweaters, fireplaces and baking are some of our favourite things. Like all bread-baking projects, making bagels at home will make your house smell fantastic. That's a given. But there is something inexplicably wholesome about fresh sesame seed bagels. The first time you slice one of these and toast it, I don't think it's an exaggeration at all to say that you won't think of bagels the same way again. The freshness is almost overwhelming. A little margarine and hummus or sliced tomato or peanut butter is pretty much all you need for a relaxing, satisfying lunch. Try to stare out a big window while eating slowly and sipping something hot.
1 flax egg (1 Tbl flax meal, 3 Tbl water, mixed together in a small bowl and refrigerated for 15 minutes)
5 tsp yeast (about two 7 g envelopes)
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup agave syrup
5 1/2 cups (630 g) bread flour, plus more for kneading
2 1/2 tsp sea salt
3 quarts of water for boiling
1/3 cup molasses or barley malt syrup
1/2 cup sesame seeds
First, make the flax egg. Add 1 Tbl ground flax meal to a small bowl and add 3 Tbl water. Refrigerate 15 minutes to help it set.
Warm the 1 1/2 cups water to 100°F in a glass measuring cup. Pour about half of it into a large bowl and leave the other half in the measuring cup. In the measuring cup, stir in the 1 tsp sugar and then the yeast. Leave on the counter for 5 minutes, making sure the mixture doubles in volume and gets very frothy in that time. In the meantime, add canola oil and agave syrup to the water in the mixing bowl. Agave syrup is a vegan alternative to honey and it is quite delicious.
Measure out the flour have it ready for adding.
When the yeast mixture is ready, add it to the mixing bowl.
Add about half of the flour, a little bit at a time, mixing well after each addition. The mixture should still be wet. Add the flax egg and mix it in.
Mix in the salt at this point as well.
Continue adding flour a little at a time until a dough forms.
Turn the dough out onto a large kneading board.
Knead for about 10 minutes, sprinkling small amounts flour on the board as necessary if the dough sticks. When you're finished, the dough should be a nice smooth, round shape with a texture roughly like your earlobe.
Place a second clean mixing bowl over the dough on the kneading board and let it rest 20 minutes.
While the dough is rising, put the water and molasses on to boil in a large pot. When the pot boils, reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Get two baking sheets ready with parchment paper.
After 20 minutes, the dough should have risen a little bit.
Punch the dough down, expelling any gas bubbles that have developed. Then cut the dough into 8 equal pieces.
Roll each piece dough between your hands to make a ball, then flatten it out into a bun shape on the kneading board.
Poke your finger through the middle and form the dough into the classic bagel shape. Place it on the parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat for the other 7 pieces of dough.
Cover the baking sheets with tea towels and let them rest for 15 minutes. In the meantime, pour the sesame seeds into a bowl and place it close to the stove. Return the molasses mixture to medium-high heat and let it come to a low boil.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Bring the baking sheet you filled first over to the stove. Put two of the bagels into the boiling molasses mixture and let them float for about a minute. Flip them over with a slotted spoon and let them cook another minute. They will grow substantially in the boiling water.
Remove the bagels back to the baking sheet.
While the bagels are still steamy hot, sprinkle sesame seeds generously and press them lightly.
Repeat the boiling process for the second baking sheet.
Bake the bagels 15-20 minutes until golden on top, being careful not to let the bottoms burn. Transfer to a cooling rack.
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Posted: Saturday, November 7, 2015