I’m not really that decent of a couponer but I do try. There aren’t really coupons for the stuff that we usually buy but every once in a while I’ll score a good deal that makes me absolutely giddy. Last week, I ended up with free King Arthur Bread Flour and a jar of yeast. A couple of weeks before that, I ended up with two free bags of King Arthur Whole Wheat flour. Free bread and bagels for a month 🙂
When we want bagels, we usually run to a neighborhood cafe chain. Our last trip there was wickedly frustrating. My cranberry-walnut bagel was smaller than my fist (and I have tiny, tiny hands) and should have been officially licensed by the NHL. My husband’s french toast bagel, on the other hand, was 3 times the normal size and soft like Sunbeam bread. My husband got a probably unwanted, impromptu invitation to a lecture on the art of proofing bread dough over $7 of disappointment.
It stinks to go out and pay for something that isn’t anywhere near as good as what you could do at home, for cheaper. And when that happens, I’m usually not-so-subtly handed a challenge of “You know, we should really make these at home.” And by “we,” he means me.
I’ve made bagels before; those bagels were good. But these bagels? These bagels were phenomenal. The biggest differences between the two recipes was reducing the amount of yeast and allowing an overnight rest in the fridge. The texture and taste were fantastic. No hockey pucks here! And they were so much prettier this time, too 🙂
Cranberry Walnut Bagels with Hazelnut Cream Cheese
Chewy bagels studded with cranberries and walnuts, topped with a light hazelnut cream cheese.
- For the sponge:
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 1/2 cups warm water (divided)
- 1 tsp active dry yeast
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- For the dough
- 1/2 tsp dry active yeast
- 2 1/2 - 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 Tbsp vital wheat gluten
- 2 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)
- 3/4 cups walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)
- To finish:
- 1 Tbsp baking soda
- Cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting
- For the Hazelnut Cream Cheese:
- 8oz cream cheese, 1/3 less fat (chilled is fine)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/4-1/2 tsp hazelnut syrup (find it in the coffee aisle)
- 1-3 Tbsp sugar
- 1/3 cup hazelnuts, chopped, toasted, and cooled
- Make the sponge: Dissolve sugar into 1/2 cup warm water in the bowl of your stand mixer. Sprinkle yeast over top and let proof for 5 minutes. Add the remaining water and flour and mix on low with the paddle until sponge is smooth and the consistency of pancake batter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit until doubled, approximately 2 hours. (The sponge will be foamy and bubbly and will collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop).
- Make the dough: Fit the mixer with the dough hook. Add the additional yeast to the sponge and mix on low until combined. Add 2 cups of the whole wheat flour, all of the salt, gluten, honey, and the dried fruit and nuts (if using). Mix on low until the ingredients form a ball, adding additional flour 1/4 cup at a time to stiffen the dough (I used exactly 2 3/4 cups of whole wheat flour).
- Knead the dough for 6 minutes. It will be firm but still pliable and smooth and should clean the sides of the mixer bowl. The dough should pass the windowpane test. If the dough is too dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading. If the dough seems tacky or sticky, add more flour to stiffen. The kneaded dough should feels satiny and pliable but not be tacky.
- Form the bagels: Divide the dough into 4 oz pieces and shape into rolls. Cover the rolls with a damp towel and let sit for 20 minutes. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Shape the bagels by pushing a hole through the center of each roll and working the dough around your thumb, stretching out the hole to 2.5 inches in diameter. Place bagels 2 inches apart on the pan. Cover with a damp towel and let sit for 20 minutes.
- Fill a small bowl with room-temp water. Drop one bagel into the water. If the bagel floats within 10 seconds, remove the bagel, pat it dry, return it to the pan, and place the pans in the refrigerator overnight covered loosely with plastic wrap. If the bagel does not float, pat it dry, return it to the pan, and test again in 10-20 minutes.
- Baking the bagels: Preheat the oven to 500 with the two racks set in the middle of the oven. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the baking soda. Boil the bagels in batches 1-2 minutes on each side (for chewy bagels, go 2 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon or spatula. Immediately top bagels with your choice of toppings when they come out of the water.
- Sprinkle the same parchment-line baking sheets with cornmeal. Transfer the pans to the oven. Bake for 5 minutes and then swap the pans in the oven. Lower the oven setting to 450 and continue baking for about 5 minutes, or until the bagels are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving.
- To freeze: I slice the completely cooled bagels almost all the way through, enough that they flip open all the way but still are just barely attached so tops and bottoms stay together. A square of wax paper in the middle keeps them from freezing shut. I layer them in a gallon freezer bag and put in the freezer. To reheat, I place the frozen bagel halves in the oven when I turn on the broiler to toast. They thaw, heat, and toast perfectly!
- To make the cream cheese: Add cream cheese, vanilla, 1/4 tsp hazelnut syrup, and 1 Tbsp sugar to the bowl of your stand mixer. Whip on high until light and fluffy. Taste for sweetness - add additional sugar as desired, whipping until sugar dissolves after the addition. Add an additional 1/4 tsp of hazelnut syrup, if desired. Mix in chopped hazelnuts.
Yields: 12 bagels
Estimated time: 16 hours 30 minutes