07 August 2015

Bagels — c'est moi qui les ai faits

Walt has made bagels several times over the years with great success, but until this week I had never tried my hand at it. I found a recipe that seemed simple enough and adapted it to my taste and to the ingredients we had in the cellier.

The recipe I found (but which I've been unable to locate on the 'net this morning) called for making the bagels with high-gluten bread flour (wheat flour). I didn't have that. What I did have was about a cup (240 milliliters) of oat flour (farine d'avoine), the same amount of whole-grain rye flour (farine complète de seigle type 130), and of course plenty of all-purpose French wheat flour (farine de blé type 55).

Bagels are a bread that is made with yeast and some sugar, along with water and salt. Their distinctive characteristic is that the bagel dough is boiled after the bagels are shaped. Then they're baked in a hot oven. The resulting bread is tender but also chewy.

So my main modification to the recipe was using a mix of those three flours instead of a single kind. I also boiled the bagels longer than the 45 seconds the recipe called for. And that meant they didn't need to spend as much time in the oven. Here's the bagel-making method I came up with. Remember, in U.S. terms, "one cup" means 240 milliliters.

Oat-Rye-Wheat Bagels
Makes 8 bagels

1½ cups water
8 g yeast
40 g sugar
15 g salt
1 cup oat flour
1 cup whole-grain rye flour
2 cups all-purpose wheat flour
2 quarts water (for boiling)
1 egg white + sesame or poppy seeds (optional)
Mix yeast, sugar and warm water together and let stand 3 minutes.

Mix 3 flours with the salt in mixer bowl and add the yeast mixture. Mix with dough hook until combined. Add more flour as needed to make a stiff, not sticky dough. Knead for 5 to 10 minutes.

[Note: Instead of oat, rye, and wheat flours, you can use four cups of high-gluten bread flour.]

Place dough in a covered bowl and let rise for 60 to 90 minutes. After rising punch down and divide dough into 8 balls. Allow to rest for 4 minutes.

Bring 2 quarts of water to boil in a sauté pan.

With your thumb, make a hole in each ball of dough and pull open about 2 inches, making a bagel shape. Place the shaped bagels onto a cookie sheet and cover for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350ºF.

Lower heat under water for it to be simmering. Drop 4 bagels at a time into the water for about 4 minutes, turning each once. Drain and place on greased baking sheets.

Optionally, brush tops of bagels with beaten egg white and top with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, etc.

Bake for about 25 minutes. Bagels are done when they are golden brown and shiny.

Above, the bagels are baking in the oven. I thought the dough didn't rise very much before I cut it into pieces and formed the bagels, but you can see that the bagels puffed up quite a bit when they were boiled and then baked.


  1. In the second photo, the row of unholed bagels made me think of les pistolets belges. Yummy!

    1. I just looked up recipes for those pistolets. One calls for powdered milk, which I'd have to buy especially for the recipe, but the other one uses liquid milk, which I have. And it uses honey instead of sugar. I'll be making that one soon, because our bread lady is going on vacation at the end of next week. Thanks for the idea.

    2. Here is a link for a Belgian recipe, without milk, sugar or honey, which is probably closer to the true pistolets:

      Another one for the original recipe [you could feed the whole hamlet!]:

    3. This is the problem when you try to make a food that you've never had before. You don't know what it's supposed to be. The recipes I found on French cooking sites say the Belgian pistolet is a petit pain au lait. Now you tell me it's not made with milk, sugar, or honey! Maybe Martine can tell us what the true recipe is.

  2. That's half a cup of flour per bagel! Now I realize why bagels are not good diet food! They look yummy.

    1. Seriously, half a cup of flour is about 200 calories. Is that a lot?

  3. Ken
    Another bread recipe for you :-)
    Y has been making this bread lately, even when we were in Maine last fortnight ( we didn't have to drive to town everyday just to get bread) Taste very good.

    He is still improving his method of transfering the dough into the hot Dutch oven pan - in lieu of a skillet as shown , he has used a sheet of parchment paper holding the dough which he just put into the oven pan .

  4. The photo of the boiling bagels reminds me of the doughnut machine we had for a while at Sportsmans.

    There is no way I could find my bagel recipe in the moving hell I am sitting in right now, but I think it calls for the water to have a boiled-to-pieces potato.

    1. I put a tablespoon of honey into the water that I boiled the bagels in. The honey gave the bagels a certain sheen, especially the bottoms, as you can see in one of the photos. The bagels are very good, but next time I'm going to try using bread flour to make them, just to see what that's like. We can't buy bagels here in Saint-Aignan. The shops that sell them are all 20 miles away from where we live. Of course, we do get delivery of good breads four days a week, so we are not suffering.


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