I look forward to Tuesday nights for two reasons. First, we watch Lost. We are helplessly addicted to the show. It is the one show we plan around. Second, it has become bagel and lox night. It’s an easy, healthy dinner. We use wild salmon lox, cream cheese, red onions, tomato slices (in season) and a squeeze of lemon, all on a homemade bagel. We round out the meal with a salad or whatever vegetables we have on hand.
Yes, I did say homemade bagel. I’ve started making my bagels from scratch. And yes, I still consider it an easy dinner. This dinner is not as quick as it would be if you used already made bagels, but homemade bagels are easy and much healthier for you than store bought bagels.
As with all things you make from scratch, you know exactly what is going into it. Bagels from a bakery probably have less junk than pre-packaged bagels (find a bag and see if you can pronounce all of the ingredients), but those jumbo bakery bagels can pack 400 calories (before you add the cream cheese). Make your own and you know exactly what you are eating and you can make normal sized bagels. These bagels have about half as many calories (even less if you make 3-ounce bagels) than a bakery bagel.
There are bagel recipes that you can make from start to finish in less time than my recipe, but since I like to do things the long way, you’ll need to start my version the night before. Don’t be afraid, this actually saves time. I can get home from work, shape and bake the bagels in a jiff with the already-risen dough.
There is also an extra benefit to letting your dough rise overnight. The yogurt helps breaks down the phytic acid. According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, soaking grains, “… neutralize phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. Vitamin content increases, particularly B vitamins. Tannins, complex sugars, gluten and other difficult-to-digest substances are partially broken down into simpler components that are more readily available for absorption.” Sounds good to me, especially if all you really need to do is add yogurt to your dough and let it rise overnight.
There is more than one way to roll out a bagel. I’m always impressed with the speed and grace of a professional bagel baker. It’s like some sort of slight of hand trick. They roll a long rope, cut with one hand and somehow make a perfect bagel with the other. I have neither grace nor speed when I’m forming bagels. I use a more pedestrian method of rolling a ball and poking a hole through it. It works just fine.
It may take more than a few tries before you can pull off H&H quality bagels (and you would probably not be able to do that using my whole-wheat-only recipe). But in my book, I’ll take a hot out of the oven bagel over a store-bought one any day!
2 cups water
1 cup yogurt
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons honey plus 2 tablespoons honey (for the water bath)
5 to 6 cups whole-wheat flour (if you want a less dense bagel, use half regular unbleached white flour or white wheat flour)
Oil for coating bowl and baking sheet
- Combine the water, yogurt, yeast, flax seeds, salt and 3 tablespoons of the honey. Mix by hand or in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. I just mix it by hand.
- Gradually add 5 cups of the flour and mix until the mixture comes together.
- Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and no longer sticky, about 5 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour.
- Grease a large bowl with oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot for 12 to 24 hours. The dough should almost double in size.
- Remove from the bowl and punch down the dough. Divide into 12 to 14 equal pieces.
- Form each piece of dough into a smooth ball. The smoother you make it, the smoother your bagel will be. No worries if it is a bit lumpy, it will still taste good.
- Punch a whole in the middle of each ball and widen the hole to about 2 inches. Repeat with the remaining dough. Place on a lightly greased surface, cover with a clean cloth and let rest until risen, but not doubled, for about 20 to 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Lightly grease or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium sized, heavy pot, bring 1 quart of water to boil. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of honey.
- In batches, add the bagels to the water and boil for 30 seconds on each side. I use a smallish pot, so I only do one bagel at a time. You don’t want to crowd them. Place bagels onto the prepared sheet pan and place in preheated oven.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.
Want to make your our cream cheese? Go to Cream Cheese and Whey.