Boiling beauties

I’m glad I experienced the bagel boom of the ’90s. You know: When bagel shops with their 32 flavors exploded onto the scene, sort of like the abundant cupcake bakeries of today (although, if I have to read about yet another cupcake-crafting phenom who left investment banking to make bank with their entrepreneurial flair for frosting, I’ll plotz).

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Nowadays, of course, bagels are pretty much verboten. Even though we’re over our carb-fear affliction (at least the more reasonable among us are — you, with the sirloin, put that steak knife away and go toast something), shop bagels remain the size of small children’s heads.

During the ’90s, of course, this was not a dangerous thing, calorically speaking. I was young and newly vegetarian and so considered bagels a core food group. And my then-raring metabolism was more than happy to oblige.

This day and age — well, if I’m using phrases like “this day and age,” I’m probably not young enough to metabolize a regular bagel. Unless I make the bagels myself.

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It’s part of why we cook and bake, right? We take things we normally wouldn’t feel good about consuming and make them fit more realistically into our efforts toward mindful eating; we take things that might otherwise be indulgences and make them nutritious.

Bagels, for me, fall into that category. Made in my kitchen, they can meet my oh-so-demanding specifications, a) that they be whole grain, through and through, b) that they be about the size of a small child’s kneecap, not head, and c) that they have the crisp-chewy texture and malty taste of a bagel — not a hole-in-the-middle squishy roll.

Naturally I used Peter Reinhart’s recipe. Find it here.

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7 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Jessica said,

    You make them? How do they… No, let me rephrase: how hard are they to make for say….someone who is capable of blowing up the kitchen?

  2. 2

    Wow! I guess I never thought about making my own! I love bagels!!! I will have to try!

  3. 3

    tiff g. said,

    You know, now that you mention it. it’s been a real long time since I’ve had an amazing bagel. They really do just taste like a roll with a hole in the middle, blah! I’ll have to check out the bagel recipe!
    I love reading your posts!

  4. 4

    Trisha said,

    Jessica: I don’t think making bagels is for the faint of heart, but it’s definitely do-able! Trust me: I’m by no means an experienced baker, and I made it work. I say go for it!

    Emily: You should give it a go — these ones are worth the trouble!

    tiff: “Amazing” bagels are few and far between. Thanks!!

  5. 5

    I’m with you on the cupcake bakeries. Cupcakes are SO 2005. 🙂 And I’d love to make bagels at home, but I fear the dough is too tough to knead by hand. What do you think?

  6. 6

    Trisha said,

    Camille: I didn’t find the dough tough at all — Just another example of the Peter Reinhart magic at work, I guess. All of his recipes in Whole Grain Breads use the delayed fermentation method, which decreases the kneading time because the autolyse (overnight resting period) allows the gluten and flavor to develop in advance (and, he says this method is especially suited to bagel dough).

    I’m sure you’re far more familiar with these terms and bread-baking requirements than I am. I just follow his directions to the letter (I even weigh all my ingredients) and away I go!

  7. 7

    Peter Reinhart is some kind of bread demigod.

    Thanks for the information – maybe one of these weekends I’ll give myself a good tricep workout on a batch of bagel dough. Bagels are a rare commodity in France.


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