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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Whole Wheat version of Jennifer Reese's Bagels

WW Bagels from Jennifer Reese's Recipe

I recently reviewed Jennifer Reese's book "Make the Bread, Buy the Butter" in this blog.  Although her bread recipes all contain mostly All Purpose or Bread flour, I liked the simplicity of them.  So I thought I'd try her bagel recipe using nothing but Whole Wheat Flour.  I've never made bagels before, I guess I was always intimidated by them.  But Jennifer made it sound easy.  Her shaping method is the easiest I've read.

You can watch Jennifer make her bagels in a short online video (although the book's recipe is somewhat different -- different volume of ingredients, different oven temperatures, etc.).  For my part, I did not change the amounts given in the book even though I'm using only whole wheat flour.  I weighed the ingredients as I mixed it, so I came up with these baker's percentages (your mileage may vary), which she claims makes 10 bagels (I made 8, but I probably made my bagels a bit large):

  • WW Flour 100%
  • Yeast 2.6%
  • Sugar 7%
  • Salt 2.28%
  • Water 58%

    The photos:

I didn't weigh the malt, that just gets tossed in the boiling water anyway, so its not officially part of the dough.

These mix up and bake quickly.  That means they are extra yeasty, extra sweet.  And to me, who hasn't eaten anything but a sourdough or wild yeast bread for so long, they taste a little flat.  But they are still better (when fresh) than almost any bagel I've ever bought.  And I used to eat a lot of storebought bagels (before the quality of the ones I could get locally went appreciably down -- the poor things they call bagels now are one of the reasons I began to make my own bread.  They are that bad).

What about Sourdough Bagels?

Because I had the malted water boiling so nicely, I also dropped in a bit of rye sourdough discard that I mixed with some (unmeasured) whole wheat and (unmeasured) salt and made into a bagel shape -- just to use up the discard.  This dough wasn't allowed to rise or ferment further.  I just tossed it into the boiling water.
There's actually a couple of my sourdough-experimental bagels in the bottom of this boiling malt-water
And it sank.

So I had no high hopes for these two extra bagels.  I knew they'd be dense.  But they came out of the water and oven very nicely.  They have a nice bagel-crust sheen.  They smell quite sour, and look almost pretzely.

Perhaps because they were so dense, they didn't bake all the way through in 25 minutes.  I'll let them go 30 minutes next time, at 400 degrees.  But to me, they taste better than the yeasty bagels.  With a little cream cheese, I like these a lot.

These dense experimental bagels aren't baked through

Next, I'll have to try making my own cream cheese (like Reese hints in the video, you can do this too).

Notes to Myself
  • The ingredients are supposed to mix to a stiff dough, but I felt that my dough was a bit too wet -- which is unusual, since whole wheat is supposed to require more water to get the same consistency as all-purpose flour.  I think that the dough probably requires more than the amount of flour she recommends in the video, probably even more than the amount she gives in the book.  If I kept the other amounts and went to 4 cups (600g), the percentages would fall out like so:

    • WW Flour 100%
    • Yeast 2.5%
    • Sugar 6.1%
    • Salt 2%  (you can see that the salt amount is more usual with this amount)
    • Water 59.8% 
  • Experiment with some sourdough bagel recipes to find one you like.  No doubt you won't want the sugar, or the yeast.  Of the top of my head, expect to use a 60% hydration, 2% salt and perhaps a 40% sourdough starter.
  • For denser bagels that don't float, bake 400 degrees x 30 minutes.

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