What do you make when a group of people are getting together to play kickball during a pandemic? Obviously the answer is cinnamon raisin bagels.
✔ Individual servings
✔ No mess
✔ No toppings necessary
As per usual, I committed a minor starter error. I took out my starter two nights before D-Day (dough day), fed it the first night, and forgot to feed it the second. I only had 60g of starter, so instead of 100/200/200 starter/flour/water, I used 60/180/180. This gave me the 400g I needed for the bake, with just enough to feed and store for the future. Let’s pretend that was on purpose.
NWS prescribes 40g of cinnamon for 14 bagels. As I emptied my cinnamon shaker (I only had 36g), doubts arose. Ford’s errata blog post for this book mentions a misprinted cinnamon weight for a different recipe; this recipe isn’t mentioned in either the text or the comments from readers who have found further uncertainties.
I did a quick review of other cinnamon bagel recipes online, and they all called for 1-2tsp of cinnamon for similar quantities of bagels. On my NWS journey, I want to be faithful to Ford’s recipes, but I don’t want to make Big Red-flavored bagels, so I went with 2tsp. (This equates to about 4g, making me question whether the book contains an errant 0.)
My faithfulness to the recipe did not prevent me from using all purpose instead of bread flour, but that was just because I wasn’t paying attention.
The cinny raisin bagel recipe is not too difficult, but it has many steps with varying time requirements. I wanted them fresh in the early afternoon, so I worked my breadule backwards.
I covered the bowl of dough with a kitchen towel, and the dough exposed to the air developed a skin that stuck with it clear through to boiling. Perhaps a tight plastic seal would have prevented this, but it seems harmless. I didn’t notice any resulting taste of texture effects. Regardless, the room temperature bulk was very impressive to me. Maybe I don’t have faith in my starter, but the dough rose much higher than I expected, which was a fun surprise.
I loved the 15-hour cold proof. That gives me a lot of flexibility for both the dough day and the baking day. Plus, if dough is proofing for 15 hours, I assume that I can get away with an hour or so sooner or later if my schedule requires it.
I shaped all but one of the bagels as Ford directs: wrapping the tube of dough around my hand, and mashing the ends together. (There’s probably a classier verb for making ends meet, but what I was doing was definitely mashing.) Midway through I looked at a King Arthur Flour bagel method and tried it on one piece. I didn’t continue with the rest, since it requires a totally different preshape. A friend told me that New York bagelistas make them the tube-n-wrap way (presumably with less mashing and more even rings), which made me feel proud to be in good company.
I boiled and baked the bagels in two separate batches, with interesting differences in results. For the first boil, I lowered the heat, as directed, before dropping in two rounds. The cold dough brought the water temperature down drastically, and it didn’t return to a boil for a few minutes. They did eventually float, so I believe they were properly proofed.
I brought the water temperature up before finishing the first batch, but then I noticed an oven issue. The oven read 450°, but the thermometer inside was about 25° short. I finished the boiling and waited a bit for the oven to heat to “500°” (but really 450°). After a few minutes, nervous about Ford’s note that boiled bagels deflate if left out too long, I popped them in the oven for 16 minutes.
I started boiling the second batch once the first were out of the oven. I reheated the same pot of water and kept it at a rolling boil the entire time. It only boiled over twice! The oven was plenty hot, as well, when it came time to bake.
Both batches were pretty great. Good chewy crust, soft tasty crumb, lovely juicy raisins. To be honest, I could have used more cinnamon, but I still believe 40g was an error. Next time I may use 4tsp.
The first batch was pale, matte, and spotty. The second batch–where everything was properly heated–was shiny, crispier, and looked like real bagels. You would think, after a year and a half of baking, I would know to make sure the oven is hot. Even so, I want to blame the boiling for this difference. It seems more like a symptom of dough sitting in lukewarm water.
I have seen dozens of bread bakers post their bagels online, and I have never been interested in making them myself. I would not have made them if not for this book. Now, knowing they are so simple, delicious, and crowd-pleasing, I will absolutely make bagels again. I have signed up for a virtual bagel baking class, and I am ready to roll.