I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before but I’m from the Northeastern part of these great states. To be more specific, I hail from Fort Lee, NJ. It’s a little, but very densely populated extension of NYC on the Jersey side of the Hudson River. Fort Lee was recently thrown into the national spotlight by being associated with a scandal called “Bridgegate”. Have you heard of it? Anyway, that’s not at all what I’m here to talk about so let’s move on…
Bagels. There’s this long standing argument that the best bagels in the world come from NYC. I call it an argument because I’ve also heard people say the best bagels in the world come from Montreal. In truth though, the best bagels come from the mom and pop shops in NJ that still take the time to hand roll each and every bagel. If you’ve only ever had a bagel from places like Einstein Bros or Dunkin Donuts I’m going to say, and don’t be offended, you’ve never actually had a bagel. In my opinion, bagels have to have a dense, chewy crumb and a shiny, slightly crackly crust. Neither Einstein Bros or Dunkin’ quite have the chew that I like in a good bagel. In fact, I’m going to take a guess and say that they steam, not boil their dough. Blasphemy! (In case you’re wondering about the boiling vs. steaming of bagels Here is all the information you’ll need on the history of bagels. The more you know, right?)
I usually get one of three things at the bagel shop; sesame bagel with scallion cream cheese and tomatoes, a marble rye bagel with cream cheese and lox, or a bacon, egg, and cheese on an everything. So I think it was two weeks ago or so when I decided I wanted to try baking an all in one bacon, egg, and cheese bagel…this way I can have a bacon, egg, and cheese WITH cream cheese (fat kid speaking here).
The recipe I used is a combination of two recipes I found online- Epicurious and Brown Eyed Baker. Brown Eyed Baker had adapted Peter Reinhart’s recipe (Epicurious) by adding eggs to the dough to make egg bagels but I didn’t love the idea of having to make a sponge. I wanted this to be a quick mix. So I went back to Peter Reinhart’s recipe and reduced the amount of water that went into the dough to keep hydration levels right as I added some egg yolks. I’m guessing Brown Eyed Baker went with a sponge because adding 8 yolks probably messed with the gluten development a bit (the more fat you add to a dough, the harder it is for gluten formation. The fat coats the proteins that help create gluten and without gluten, you don’t get a good crumb structure.) So I cut the amount of egg yolks in half and upped the water a little. This is where the “a little bit of this, a little bit of that” comes into play a bit. Depending on the size of the yolks, you might need more or less of the water. The dough shouldn’t be tacky, but more of a soft and pliable dough. It should still have a little stickiness to it though so don’t pull back on too much of the water.
This dough is a quick mix. Add all the ingredients to your mixing bowl and mix until combined. You’ll want to give it a five minute rest once all the ingredients have come together then keep mixing for a bit until gluten development has been attained, about three or four more minutes on Speed 2 (KitchenAid mixer). Make sure to oil the bowl you’ll be proofing your dough in. This dough will proof for about an hour at room temperature. In the meantime, you can cook up your bacon. Thinly slice the bacon and cook until crispy. Drain onto a paper towel and let cool.
Once the dough is ready to divide, lightly flour your work surface and turn the contents of your bowl out. Make sure to depress some of the gas out before you divide. You’ll get about 10 bagels, or divide into 4 oz. pieces. I like to roll my bagels out by hand and then loop them vs. making a ball and creating a hole in the middle. You can see in the picture above that I have my dough pre-shaped into logs to make that process a bit easier. I used a stuff and roll technique with the bacon and cheese. If you’ve ever made cinnamon rolls before, same idea.
Stuffed, rolled, and ready to go…onto a pan and into the fridge. I was able to fit 10 bagels on my parchmented and sprayed pan, but in retrospect I don’t think I’ll do that again. Once the dough proofed, the bagels were stuck to each other and it really impacted the overall look of it, though it tasted just fine.
The great thing about baking bagels is that it’s a do ahead kind of dough. You make the dough, shape it, and get it in the fridge to proof the rest of the way. Make sure to give yourself an hour or so to get them ready to bake and you’ll have warm bagels on the table for breakfast! Boiling takes place after the dough has tempered within that hour I mentioned. Make sure to get a big pot ready because once the dough wants to go, it’ll want to happen fairly quickly. I like to take the hour tempering time to get my seeds and toppings ready. I’ll preheat the oven at this time as well. The fun thing, but also the most challenging thing about baking bread, is that when yeast is involved the dough is never fully under your control. You go on yeast’s time.
Boiling water bath for bagel dough, then dip them in seeds, then onto the pan and into the oven they go! They’ll look a bit weird coming out of the water but once they bake they’ll have that shiny exterior.
This is what the bagel looks like cut open. I slathered some plain cream cheese but I can imagine scallion cream cheese would be AMAZING on this.
681 grams bread flour
4 XL egg yolks
1.5 cups water (hold back on add all of this water and only add more as needed. I’d start with about a cup and see how it goes)
1.75 teaspoons kosher salt
1.5 tablespoons instant yeast
1.5 tablespoons honey
4 slices thick cut bacon
1 cup shredded cheddar, plus more if you’d like to use cheese as a topping.
Please follow Peter Reinhart’s method for mixing, boiling, and baking the bagels. The instructions are spot on and why fix a tire if it ain’t broke? Or something like that. Here’s a link to the recipe again so you don’t have to go looking for it up top.
As always, I’m forever open to talking about all things food so hit me up if you’ve got any questions or concerns. Also hit me up if you’ve baked these. I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback! #foodcationforever.