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Homemade Bagels the Easy Way : Old Pro's Cooking Secrets Offer a Fresh Taste of Bakery in Kitchen

October 05, 1989|JUDY ZEIDLER

Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, begins at sundown on Sunday and lasts until sundown the following day, during which time a strict fast is observed.

Before the fast, it is customary to serve a family dinner consisting of simple foods prepared with a minimum of salt and spices so those who fast will not be unduly thirsty or endure the pangs of stimulated taste buds.

After the fast, dairy foods are traditionally served with coffee cake, honey cake and a variety of other baked delicacies. Bagels, arguably the favorite item in the Jewish-American cuisine, are a part of the after-fast menu, often accompanied by lox (smoked salmon). The salty fish makes up for the bland pre-holiday food and serves as a reward for observing the fast.

Origins of the Bread Doughnut

There are many opinions as to where the bagel originated. Some say Germany, Austria, Poland, or Russia. Some scholars insist that the word bagel is derived from the German bugel, which means a ring or curved bracelet. No matter where they came from, we know that the bagel is here to stay.

FOR THE RECORD - Correction Made to Water Bagel Recipe
Los Angeles Times Thursday October 12, 1989 Home Edition Food Part H Page 30 Column 1 Food Desk 8 inches; 276 words Type of Material: Correction; Recipe
The amount of all-purpose flour was incorrect in last week's Judy Zeidler story on Iz's Water Bagels recipe. The entire corrected recipes follows.
IZ'S WATER BAGELS
2 cups cold tap water
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon malt
1 tablespoon oil
8 cups high gluten flour (12% to 13%) (or 8 cups all-purpose flour plus 4 tablespoons powdered gluten)
5 teaspoons dry yeast
1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
In bowl of electric mixer, using dough hook, blend water, sugar, salt, malt and oil. Combine 6 cups flour and yeast and add to bowl, blending until dough comes together. Add remaining flour, beating until smooth. (If any dry flour mixture remains in bottom of bowl, add several drops of water to moisten and continue beating 5 minutes.)
Transfer to wooden board but do not add any oil, water or additional flour. Cover with towel and let rest 5 minutes.
Divide dough into 15 pieces, each weighing about 3 ounces. Keep covered with towel while shaping each piece. Knead by folding each piece in half and pushing out any air-pockets. Then, fold in half and knead again. Shape into rope about 5-inches long, then form into doughnut shape. Overlap ends by about 1 inch and knead into smooth perfect circle. Repeat with remaining dough.
Sprinkle cornmeal on wooden board and place bagels on top. Cover with towel and let rest 5 minutes.
Fill large pot with water and bring to boil. Drop 4 to 6 bagels (do not crowd) into boiling water and boil 10 seconds only. Bagels should rise to top of water. Using slotted spoon, transfer to wire rack and drain. Then place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees 10 minutes or until golden brown. Makes about 15 bagels.
Variations:
Onion-Poppy Seed Bagels--After boiling and draining bagels, press top of each bagel into mixture of chopped onion mixed with poppy seeds. Bake as directed.
Egg Bagels--Using recipe for water bagels, place 2 or 3 egg yolks in 2-cup measure and add enough water to measure 2 cups. Use as liquid in recipe.

Despite their popularity, very few of us have attempted to bake bagels in our home kitchens. Bagels are made in a unique manner--first boiled, then baked, which gives them their distinctive shiny, chewy crust. Students in my cooking classes tell me that the bagels they make at home are hard, tough, heavy and undersized.

But now I have learned the secrets of bagel-making from a real bagel maven--an expert--Iz Cohen. At 73, Cohen is supposed to be retired, but he still works three days a week decorating cakes for weddings and bar mitzvahs at Fred's Bakery on Robertson. And, of course, he continues to turn out delicious bagels.

Cohen comes from a long line of bakers, including his uncle and cousin who operate a bakery in New York. And Cohen operated his own bakery in Los Angeles from 1948 to 1971.

Armed With a Scale

Cohen agreed to teach me the secrets of making perfect bagels and arrived at my kitchen armed with a scale, special gluten flour and his favorite brand of malt. He first delivered a little talk about ingredients, telling me that most flour does not contain the 12% to 13% gluten content required for perfect bagels. If needed, you may add gluten, which is available at health food stores. Malt adds color and flavor and may also be purchased at health foods stores.

Cohen explained that bagels are available in flavors such as whole wheat, oat bran, almond, blueberry, cinnamon-raisin, cheese--and even pizza. He laughed when he told me that some bakers even make chocolate-chip bagels.

We decided to stick to water bagels and to top half of them with a sprinkling of chopped onion and some poppy seeds. In a few hours we had fresh-from-the-oven, light, golden-brown bagels.

For a Yom Kippur break-the-fast meal, serve a hot appetizer of cream cheese and smoked salmon on bagels.

IZ'S WATER BAGELS

2 cups cold tap water

2 tablespoons sugar

3/4 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon malt

1 tablespoon oil

8 cups high gluten flour (12 to 13%) (or 4 all-purpose flour plus 4 tablespoons powdered gluten)

5 teaspoons dry yeast

1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal

In bowl of electric mixer, using dough hook, blend water, sugar, salt, malt and oil. Combine 6 cups flour and yeast and add to bowl, blending until dough comes together. Add remaining flour, beating until smooth. (If any dry flour mixture remains in bottom of bowl, add several drops of water to moisten and continue beating 5 minutes.)

Transfer to wooden board but do not add any oil, water or additional flour. Cover with towel and let rest 5 minutes.

Divide dough into 15 pieces, each weighing about 3 ounces. Keep covered with towel while shaping each piece. Knead by folding each piece in half and pushing out any air-pockets. Then, fold in half and knead again. Shape into rope about 5-inches long, then form into doughnut shape. Overlap ends by about 1 inch and knead into smooth perfect circle. Repeat with remaining dough.

Sprinkle cornmeal on wooden board and place bagels on top. Cover with towel and let rest 5 minutes.

Fill large pot with water and bring to boil. Drop 4 to 6 bagels (do not crowd) into boiling water and boil 10 seconds only. Bagels should rise to top of water. Using slotted spoon, transfer to wire rack and drain. Then place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees 10 minutes or until golden brown. Makes about 15 bagels.

Variations:

Onion-Poppy Seed Bagels--After boiling and draining bagels, press top of each bagel into mixture of chopped onion mixed with poppy seeds. Bake as directed.

Egg Bagels--Using recipe for water bagels, place 2 or 3 egg yolks in 2-cup measure and add enough water to measure 2 cups. Use as liquid in recipe.

TOASTED GARLIC

BAGELS

1/4 pound unsalted butter or margarine

3 to 4 garlic cloves

3 tablespoons minced parsley

Salt

8 bagels, sliced in half

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