Tag Archives: Bagel

Smoked Trout, Homemade Bagels

8 Aug

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I threw a little brunch for friends, with homemade bagels, salmon and trout I smoked over alder wood, gravlax cured by H, dry farmed early girl tomatoes (so good…), salted cucumbers, and other accoutrements.

For the bagels, I mostly used the tried and true recipe, though I tried retarding the dough (letting it rise slowly in a cold place overnight) in both a typical 40°F fridge and a special 55°F fridge I had set up with a temperature controller for fermenting experiments. The 40° dough rose less, but then swelled up when baked (see left bagels below– perhaps I didn’t boil them long enough this time?) They still tasted good, like bagels– but the dough retarded at 55° had an especially nice crackling crust around a chewy bagel. I’ll keep playing around with rising times and temperatures…

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For the trout and salmon I followed a four day “hot smoke” process based on the Russell Smallwood / Naked Whiz recipe. This produces savory, rich, cooked salmon and trout with a bit of a chewy crust– not a smoked cold/raw salmon like lox.

Wednesday evening I made a plain salt brine (I wanted to start with the basics this time before getting into spices, herbs, or sugar) and immersed a thick 2lb block of salmon and 2lbs of cleaned trout fillets (both skin-on) in it under weights overnight.

Thursday morning before work I rinsed the brine off both and set them out uncovered in a fridge to air dry for 36 hours, in the hope of developing more of a skin/pellicle when smoked.

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Friday night I fired up the kamado-style ceramic grill/smoker with lump charcoal and a few chunks of alder wood and stabilized it at the low temperature of 180°F (this took some effort and required sealing every spare crack of inlet space with foil to control the airflow). After one false start when I closed down the vents so much that I snuffed the fire, I got a steady slow burn going and popped in the salmon and trout. I let them smoke until 2AM (about 6 hours), which led to a heavily cured toothy smoked trout with a great skin, and a moderately cured salmon that was fully cooked but still moist in the middle (the salmon was much thicker to start– but I didn’t want to be getting up all night to check on it– maybe next time I’ll try a 12-hour smoke).

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I chilled the fish overnight, and Saturday morning they were ready to go for brunch. Mmm.

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There were plenty of smoked fish leftovers (though not as many as I expected making 5 lbs of fish for 9 people), and mixing it in to scrambled eggs with feta is my favorite leftover use so far…

I think the trout turned out amazingly good and have been snacking on it for days– I wouldn’t change anything. The salmon was also very good, but next time I want to try some more herbs and spices in the brine and perhaps a little sugar– and try smoking a part of it even longer to see if I can get a bit more of a dry “salmon jerky” crust outside the moist interior.

First Montreal Bagel

26 Feb

I just had my first Montreal bagel (someone I know paid to have cases of them shipped overnight, from Montréal):

I did appreciate the slightly smoky taste from the wood burning oven, and the variation in surface browning, but they were also a bit sweeter and lighter (less chewy) than I like, so I still prefer the New York style. I may have to try making an unholy hybrid at some point– a New York style bagel cooked over a wood fire… not quite what the gas-grill-BBQ bagels were.

That being said, freshness (within a few hours of when they came out of the oven) has correlated well with bagels-I-love in the past, even in New York, so I’d really need to try a Montreal bagel at the source.

Making bagels, again

12 Dec

A few photos from another round of making bagels, over Thanksgiving:

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Differences between this time and the last few times I’ve made them:

  • I used the “6 cups all-purpose flour + 12 tsp vital wheat gluten” method of making high-gluten flour, since I didn’t have any special flour. This worked well, producing a chewy bagel.
  • 3 tsp yeast (instead of the usual 2 1/4tsp packet), and it was mixed with a little of the malt syrup and lukewarm water a few minutes before adding it into the dough, to give it a head start, since proofing suggested this particular jar of yeast was on the old and lazy side. This seemed to work– the bagels rose slightly overnight (as expected, see the different in the 1st vs. 2nd photos) and puffed up nicely in the oven.
  • I minced three cloves of garlic and toasted them (medium heat, dry skillet) until browned, then used them as a topping on some of them.
  • I cooked in a different oven than normal, on a pizza stone. Unclear if this made a difference.

Bagels and pizza: it’s not the water?

3 Oct

A brief article from Slate earlier this summer suggests that if you’re making your own bagels, the water (New York or otherwise) doesn’t really matter– it’s the combination of gluten, slow rising, and boiling before baking.

Similarly, an article in The Food Lab at Slice / Serious Eats suggests the mineral level in water has no significant effect on the quality of pizza dough.

How to Make Bagels [updated 2017]

14 Sep

I’ve probably made bagels 25-30 times at this point, and have reached a point where they turn out surprisingly well– not the best I’ve had in New York, but better then any bagel I can buy locally. Here’s my standard recipe, based on trying a few variants (I’ve even made two different recipes and done blind taste tests with friends). It’s very similar to the one in The New Best Recipe.

 

Before I dive in, the four things easily accessible to the home cook that seem to make the most difference in a good bagel:
  • Letting the dough rise in the fridge for 12+ hours
  • Using high-protein (high-gluten) flour such as King Arthur Sir Lancelot
  • Boiling the bagels briefly before baking them
  • Eating them fresh, within an hour

To make 12 bagels (you can scale this recipe up or down):

  • 6 cups of King Arthur Sir Lancelot high-gluten flour
    • Or, 6 cups of King Arthur bread flour + 6 tsp Bob’s Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten sifted in with that flour (see also other flour options that work)
  • 2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast (a standard packet)
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 ½ Tbsp barley malt syrup (available in markets, or brewing supply shops)
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
Stir the above together into a smooth dough (this will take some elbow grease). It may feel like there’s not enough water at first, but after working it for a bit it should come together into a slightly stringy ball.
Knead the dough for  5-10 minutes (this is always longer than I think– I set a timer), until smooth and elastic. Divide it into 12 balls, and let them rest for 5 minutes.

Form each ball into a bagel shape by rolling it into a “dough snake” with slightly tapered/thinner ends and overlapping and firmly pressing these ends together, to make a hoop with a uniform diameter and no visible seam.

Put the bagels on a tray (dusted with cornmeal to prevent sticking), cover with plastic wrap, and let them rise in the fridge for at least 12 hours. I’m not kidding– 8 hours is not enough, and the two times I let them rise 15 hours they were noticeably better. They don’t rise a huge amount in the cold– it’s not like bread that doubles in bulk, but they should enlarge somewhat and become a little more soft/puffy to the touch.

Letting them rise in the fridge is important, because (according to TNBR) “At lower temperatures, yeast fermentation is suppressed, and the lactobacilli bacteria naturally present on grains and in yeast begin to produce a variety of organic acids, primarily lactic acid and acetic acid. The organic acids, the same acids present in a healthy sourdough culture, the dough a more complex flavor […] The richer, reddish brown color of the crust [after baking] was the result of another chemical process, called the Maillard reaction. During the retarding [low-temperature rising] process, enzymes produced by the bacteria convert wheat starch into simple sugar, which during baking produces a rich, toasty color and flavoring.”

The next day:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450F
  2. Remove the bagels from the fridge about 20 minutes before you want to bake them.
  3. Boil a big pot of water with 1 Tbsp of barley malt syrup in it
    1. I’ve read the rumors that New York water is the secret of a good bagel, and read of people putting various additives in the water to change the pH, but in my experience it’s not at all necessary for a good bagel– I’ve tried baking baking soda (not a typo) to make more alkaline sodium carbonate but didn’t notice a difference in the end product in my one trial.
  4. Boil each bagel for 40 seconds (depending on how they’ve risen, they may drop to the bottom of the pot and then rise after about 30 seconds… or they may float from the very beginning, in which case I flip them over after the first 20 seconds to make sure the entire surface sees the boiling water). This sets the size of the bagel and prevents it from just swelling up when you bake it, reactivates the yeast that’s been made sluggish by the cold, and helps give the bagel its shiny surface.
  5. Drain the bagels on a rack as they come out of the water, and optionally sift toppings (poppy seeds, sesame seeds, cracked pepper, caraway seeds, dried onion or garlic flakes, etc) onto them
  6. Bake them at 450 for about 20 minutes on a middle oven rack, until golden brown (your time may vary)
  7. Let them cool briefly on a rack, then slice and serve warm
If everything has worked, you should have something that looks like a bagel, with a crisp, crackling crust when you bite into it, a chewy but not too dense interior with a nice flavor, and a malty bread smell when you cut it open. Enjoy!
Some typical toppings: smoked salmon and trout (sometimes homemade), cream cheese, good tomatoes, red onion, capers. Alternate toppings: hummus, black olives, chives, cucumbers…