Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Gluten Free Bagels

This weekend, on the way to the public library, we passed by a farmer's market. Son asked what it was. When we explained, Son said he wanted to go check it out. So we turned around and checked it out.  We purchased a few great fresh organic products that we couldn't wait to eat.  One of our great finds was purple carrots. They were made into a fantastic soup and paired with our own homegrown cabbage, a fantastic coleslaw.  

Visiting this market got me revved up to hit another, so with a little searching I found one that was open the next day in a neighbouring town.  It was a bit overcast and drizzly but it wasn't going to hold us back.  However, on the way to the market it started to pour.  When we got there, Son was asleep in the back and the rain was coming down - hard. The vendors (what was left of them) were decked out in rain gear and standing in huge puddles. Husband and I looked at each other and asked "what do we do". I bowed out and said that I wasn't going to be going out in that rain.  So we turned around to head home. On the way through this quaint town, I noticed a natural food pantry with a sign out front advertising gluten free baking.  We backed up and pulled in.  When we headed into the store I fell in love with most of the baked goods, but left with only a few.  One of my great finds though was Daiya cream 'cheese' (dairy free).  I have been in awe of the Daiya cheese for what feels like forever now...and hoping to see the cream cheese on a store shelf somewhere  - and I finally found it!  

With cream cheese in hand I left that store feeling inspired to create gluten free bagels.

I have never made bagels, but I have baked gluten free bread. So I figured it couldn't be that hard.  I looked for a recipe and finally settled on the one from No Gluten, No Problem.  I started measuring, and mixing...and then I got to the part that calls for boiling before baking and I started putting the brakes on.  I thought it would be too complicated.  

I wasn't really. Although, I will give a word of caution about the part were you place a dish of boiled water in the oven.  Don't do what I did.  I burned my hand when the bottom tray didn't slide as smoothly as I anticipated and it sloshed over my hand.  Not even that deterred me though.  My hand went into ice water while I continued with the rest of the process....and I thought: these better be darn good bagels. 

They were in fact pretty good bagels. They would have been better if I had not used chickpea flour, which has a very distinct taste.  Next time I will stick to buckwheat, sorghum, rice, and tapioca.

I have cut and pasted their recipe below (with my alterations in bold brackets):

Makes 4 bagels

3/4 c warm water
1 1/2 tbsp sugar (xylitol)
1 tbsp yeast
298g Artisan Gluten-Free Flour Blend (~2 1/4 c plus scant 2 tbsp) (1 cup chickpea, 1 cup sorghum, 1/2 Cup tapioca flour)
7 g salt
1g xanthan gum (~1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp) (guar gum)
2 large egg whites

Non-stick cooking spray
Extra light olive oil
1 large egg white
4 heaping tbsp sugar
Toppings (sesame seeds, poppy seeds, etc.)


Preparing the Dough
1. Set your oven with one rack in the middle, and one rack on the bottom. Place a deep 9X9 or 9X12 or similar baking pan on the bottom rack. Preheat to 200 deg F. When the oven reaches temperature, turn it off, and leave the door closed.
2. Meanwhile, bring a full teakettle of water to a boil. Turn off and let stand on the stove.
3. Spray a cookie/baking sheet with non-stick spray.
4. Add the 3/4 c warm water to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the 1.5 tbsp sugar and stir until dissolved. Stir in the yeast and let sit about 5 minutes, until the yeast activates and forms a thick "yeast cake" on top of the warm sugary water.
5. In a separate small bowl, whisk together 124g (1 cup) of flour with the salt and xanthan gum.
6. Add the egg whites to the yeast mixture, and beat briefly with the paddle attachment. Add the flour mixed with salt and xanthan gum, and mix at slow, then medium, then medium-high speed until well-mixed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and briefly mix again.
7. Add 124g more (another 1 cup) of flour to the main mixing bowl. Again using the paddle attachment, mix at medium speed until well-mixed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and briefly mix again.
8. Add the remaining 50g flour to the main mixing bowl. Switch to the dough hook and mix until all flour is incorporated and well-mixed, and forms a wet dough ball. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and briefly mix again.
9. Remove the dough hook, drizzle a bit of olive oil down the sides of the bowl, and toss the dough ball to coat evenly.

Forming the Bagels (Keep going! You're doing great!)
10. Pour some olive oil into a small cup or ramekin.
11. Liberally olive oil a smooth work surface. Turn out the dough ball onto the work surface. Olive oil the blade of a serrated knife. Cut the dough ball in half, and each half in half again, so that you have four equal quarters.
12. Liberally olive oil both hands, and roll each dough quarter between your hands, like you're making a large meatball, until the dough forms a perfectly smooth ball. (Take the time to make sure it's perfectly smooth. Any wrinkles or creases in the dough ball will get amplified as imperfections in the finished bagel as it rises.)
13. Place each smooth dough ball on the pre-greased baking sheet, evenly spaced apart by at least several inches. Gently pat down each dough ball to form a disc - you're aiming for thick hockey puck, not thin hamburger patty. (Again, try to keep the dough as smooth and undisturbed as possible...)
14. Dip your index finger in olive oil, then punch your finger straight down through the center of each dough disc, until you're touching the baking sheet beneath. Then, keeping your index finger in contact with the baking sheet, swirl it in a circle to enlarge the bagel hole, until about the size to fit a golf ball. Re-olive oil your finger as necessary if it's sticking to the wet dough.
15. Use a silicone or other brush to brush each bagel with a thin coating of olive oil.
16. These next instructions should all happen as quickly as possible: Place the baking sheet with the bagels on the middle rack of the oven. Pour the hot teakettle water into the baking pan on the lower rack of the oven. Shut the oven door. Whew!
17. Let the bagels rise in the warm, humid oven for 1 hour. No peeking!

Boiling and Baking the Bagels (Stay motivated! You're almost there!)
18. When there are 30 minutes left on the bagel rise, add 2 liters of water to a large, wide saucepot. Add 4 heaping tbsp sugar (about 1 heaping tbsp per half liter of water). Cover and bring to a boil. When a boil is reached, reduce the heat to low and hold temp until you're ready to boil the bagels.
19. Mix 1 egg white with equal parts water and whisk to make a basic egg wash.
20. When there are 15 minutes left on the bagel rise, remove the bagels from the oven and let them finish rising in a warm location, such as on the stovetop. Remove the baking pan filled with hot water from the lower rack of the oven. (Be careful!) Preheat the oven to 425 deg F.
21. At the end of the 1 hour bagel rise, place the baking sheet of bagels in the oven and "flash bake" them for 4 minutes, then remove from the oven. (This "sets" the bagels so they hold their shape for boiling.) Reduce the oven temp to 400 deg F. Flip the bagels over so they're upside down. Turn the stovetop burner on full blast to bring the pot of sugar water to a full boil.
22. Use a spatula to transfer the bagels to the boiling water. Depending on the size of your bagels and the size of your pot, you may be able to do one at a time, two at a time, or more. Boil the bagels for 3 minutes per side. Remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and return them to the baking sheet. (Turning them upside down after the flash bake, and then flipping them once during the boil, should ensure that they're right-side-up when you remove them from the boil and return them to the baking sheet.)
23. Brush each bagel with the egg wash, and while the egg wash is still wet, sprinkle the bagels with any desired toppings, such as sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or cinnamon sugar.
24. Bake at 400 deg F for about 22 minutes, until golden brown on the outside.

There are a lot of details to this recipe, but with practice should be rather easy.

My bagels didn't rise much, as you can tell from the pictures.  I was a bit nervous, thinking that I had bombed my first attempt at making bagels.  They were thin, but the texture inside was pretty good! ... and the Daiya cream 'cheese' was wonderful....

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