If you're looking for a different baking project for a cold winter day, you might give bagels a try.
The extra step of boiling them before baking them doesn't take that long.
The best thing about bagels is they aren't just for breakfast and they're not just for cream cheese. Make a breakfast sandwich or use it instead of sliced bread for a sandwich any time.
NEW YORK-STYLE BAGELS
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups warm water (you may need ± ¼ cup more)
3 ½ cups bread flour or high gluten flour (you may need up to 1/2 cup for kneading)
1 ½ teaspoons
Optional Toppings: Caraway seeds, cinnamon sugar, coarse salt, minced fresh garlic, minced fresh onion, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, everything bagel seasoning, or a mix of your favorite flavors.
In ½ cup of the warm water, pour in the sugar and yeast. Do not stir. Let it sit for five minutes, and then stir the yeast and sugar mixture until it all dissolves in the water.
Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast and sugar mixture.
Pour 1/3 cup of warm water into the well. Mix and stir in the rest of the water (the scant 1/2 cup that is remaining), as needed. Depending on where you live, you may need to add an additional couple tablespoons to about ¼ cup of water. You want a moist and firm dough after you have mixed it.
On a floured countertop, knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Try working in as much flour as possible to form a firm and stiff dough.
Lightly brush a large bowl with oil and turn the dough to coat. Cover the bowl with a damp dish towel. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in size. Punch the dough down, and let it rest for another 10 minutes.
Carefully divide the dough into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a round. Now, take a dough ball, and press it gently against the countertop (or whatever work surface you’re using) moving your hand and the ball in a circular motion pulling the dough into itself while reducing the pressure on top of the dough slightly until a perfect dough ball forms. Repeat with seven other dough rounds.
Coat a finger in flour, and gently press your finger into the center of each dough ball to form a ring. Stretch the ring to about ⅓ the diameter of the bagel and place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Repeat the same step with the remaining dough.
After shaping the bagels and placing them on the cookie sheet, cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Reduce the heat. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to lower the bagels into the water. Boil as many as you are comfortable with boiling. Once the bagels are in, it shouldn’t take too long for them to float to the top (a couple seconds). Let them sit there for 1 minute, and then flip them over to boil for another minute. Extend the boiling times to 2 minutes each, if you’d prefer a chewier bagel (results will give you a more New York-Style bagel with this option).
If you want to add toppings to your bagels, do so as you take them out of the water. Alternatively, you can use an egg wash to get the toppings to stick before baking the bagels. Once all the bagels have boiled (and have been topped with your choice of toppings), transfer them to an oiled or parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, or until golden brown (I usually err on the side of 20 minutes).
Cool on a wire rack.
Once you've made bagels, what do you want to top them with? Here are some ideas.
8 large eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup dill minced
2 tbsp chives minced
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
Add the eggs to a saucepan and fill with cold water. Bring water to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Cover and let the eggs stand for 10-12 minutes. Take the eggs out of the water and let cool.
Peel and chop the eggs and add them to a medium sized bowl. Add mayonnaise, dill, chives, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Mix well.
GARLIC-HERB BAGEL SPREAD
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon each garlic powder, dried oregano and basil
In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sour cream, feta cheese, garlic and seasonings; mix well. Toast bagels if desired; top with spread.
STRAWBERRY BAGEL SPREAD
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon sour cream
2 teaspoons orange liqueur
1/2 cup strawberry (roughly chopped and drained)
In a bowl, cream together the cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, and Grand Marnier until smooth.
Fold in the strawberries.
Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
BAGEL SANDWICHES WITH COLESLAW
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon mustard
3 slices ham
2 slices panela cheese (may substitute other mild cheese)
1 cup cabbage (shredded)
1 carrot (julienned)
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
salt and ground black pepper
Slice the bagel in half and spread with mustard and mayonnaise. Fill with the ham and cheese.
Make the coleslaw by combining the cabbage, carrot, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving alongside the bagel sandwich.
DILL PICKLE CREAM CHEESE SPREAD
8 ounces cream cheese (1 block - softened)
1 tablespoon pickle juice (from the pickle jar)
3 tablespoons pickles (diced)
2 tablespoons green relish (sweet)
1 tablespoon fresh dill (finely chopped)
2 teaspoons mustard
salt, to taste
In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese with the pickle juice, pickles, relish, dill and mustard. Season with salt (if needed), to taste.
Serve on bagels, toast or crackers. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
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