Liquid Bread, Meet the Bagel

Cooking with Beer by | May 2013 | Issue #76

Photo by Sean Z. Paxton

Before bagels became a breakfast staple across the world, they were a classic snack in Polish cuisine. The versatility of the bagel means it can work as a light meal, the bookends of a hearty sandwich—or, in this case, a beer-infused tribute to complex carbs.

Stout Rye Bagel
This recipe uses a Stout to create more complex flavors from the dark roasted malts. When thinking about beers to use in bagels, try the more malt-forward varieties (Brown Ale, Bock, Dunkelweizen), as hops can create a more bitter bagel.

Makes: 6 bagels

Stout Rye Bagel Dough Ingredients:
2 tbsp water, filtered, about 100°F
1 tbsp diastatic malt powder or barley malt syrup
1 tsp yeast, instant dried
1 cup Stout-style beer, nothing over 6% ABV
2 1/2 cups flour, bread or high gluten, preferably organic
1 cup flour, dark rye
2 tsp kosher salt

Poaching Ingredients:
3 qt water, filtered
1 tbsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp barley malt syrup

Topping Ingredients:
1 each egg white, from a large egg
1 tbsp water, cold
2 tbsp hemp seeds, chia seeds, caraway seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, large salt flakes, or other inspired topping

Stout Rye Bagel Dough Directions:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the water, malt powder/syrup and yeast. Fit the mixer with a paddle attachment and on low speed, combine the ingredients. Let the yeast sit for 5–10 minutes to hydrate and show signs of bubbling, meaning it’s alive. Next, add the Stout (oatmeal, Irish, American, sweet, chocolate, or coffee varieties will work with this recipe) to the active yeast. Mix to combine and then add the bread flour, rye flour, and salt.

Mix on low speed to prevent any flour from flying from the bowl, until all the ingredients have formed a ball, about 2 minutes. The dough should be slightly tacky and firm, not wet and sticking to the sides of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, add a tablespoon more flour. If the dough is too firm, crumbly or tough, add another tablespoon or two of water to help create the right texture.

Let the dough rest for about 5 minutes so the water/beer can hydrate the flour and the gluten can start to form. Turn the mixer on low for another 3–5 minutes to knead the dough a second time. Again, pay attention to the texture of the dough, making any adjustments of flour/water, if needed. Let sit another 5 minutes, and repeat this step again. This kneading and resting process will help develop the gluten strains in the finished bagel, giving them a good bite and chew.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and wrap with plastic wrap so the dough does not stick or dry out. Let the dough rest at room temperature (preferably around 70–80°F) for about an hour. As the dough rises, prepare a sheet tray with either a Silpat or parchment paper, and lightly coat with oil, either a spray or a thin brushing. Set aside.

Unwrap the dough after its rest, and test its texture. It should have a very light tackiness to it, but not overly sticky. This texture is important for the ease of rolling out the dough into the bagel shape. Remove the dough from the bowl and place onto an un-floured, clean work surface. Weigh the dough and divide the finished weight by 6 (or other number if you want to make mini bagels). Portion out the dough into about 4-ounce pieces (the average size of a store-bought bagel).

Photo by Sean Z. Paxton

Photo by Sean Z. Paxton

Roll each dough mound into a round ball: Using the palm of your hand and thumb to cup the dough, rotate in a circular motion. Repeat with remaining dough. Next, take a dough ball and roll it out, much like Play-Doh, into a rope shape. Using both hands, roll back and forth, spreading your fingers out to make an 8–9 inch strand of dough. Lightly moisten both ends of the rope, and pinch them together to form a medium-sized ring.

Shape/mold the joined end to the same thickness as the rest of the ring. Place it onto the prepared, lightly oiled sheet tray, and repeat with the remaining dough. Once completed, lightly oil the tops and sides of the bagel dough with oil or oil spray. Lightly cover with parchment paper and also with plastic wrap.

Place the sheet tray into the refrigerator or cool beer cellar (below 50°F) for at least eight hours and up to two days. Proofing the dough at a colder temperature will slow down the yeast activity, producing less carbon dioxide, making the finished bagel less bready and creating a chewier texture, with much more complexity in the flavor.

After the dough has proofed, remove the sheet tray from the cold storage and let warm up to room temperature for at least an hour, up to 1 1/2 hours (depending on the temperature of your kitchen). During the last half-hour, preheat the oven to 500°F (on convection bake if your oven has this setting). In a large Dutch oven, add the poaching water and cover with a lid, placing over medium-high heat. Bring the water to a boil, then right before the bagels are ready for their first cooking, add the barley malt syrup, baking soda, and salt.

Make an egg wash by mixing the egg white and water in a small bowl, and use a pastry brush to apply to the bagel after it is boiled. This will help the seeds/toppings stick to the bagel. Set out your seeds/garnishes and have them ready nearby.

Once the water is boiling, add the baking soda (which will foam a bit) and salt. Place the measuring tablespoon into the hot water for a second to heat it. Then measure out the barley malt syrup (will slide out easier). Mix the poaching ingredients together and turn the heat down to a simmer. Have a skimmer ready so you can remove the bagels from the poaching liquid. Place a bagel dough ring onto the skimmer and set into the poaching liquid. The bagel will drop below the surface of the water and after about 15 seconds, will float to the top. Poach the bagel for 1 minute of the first side, then using the skimmer on one side of the bagel, flip it and poach another minute on the second side.

Remove the bagel from the liquid and place onto the sheet tray with the oiled parchment paper or Silpat. Immediately coat the poached bagel with the egg wash and then sprinkle with desired topping/garnish, being generous. Be sure to coat evenly around the ring and inside/outside the circle of the bagel. If using a coarse salt, be sparing, as a little salt goes a long way. Repeat with remaining bagel dough rings, following the same procedure.

Once all the bagels are poached, egg washed, and garnished, place the sheet tray into the preheated oven on the bottom rack and immediately drop the temperature to 450°F. Let the bagels bake for 16–18 minutes, until they are golden brown in color. If you do not have a convection oven, after 8 minutes, rotate the bagel trays so they brown evenly. The internal temperature of the bagel should be about 210°F. Once the bagels are baked, transfer them to a wire rack and allow to cool as long as you can stand it, about 30 minutes. Fresh bagels will last for at least a day and can be toasted the following day, if they last that long.

• Bagel Dog: When forming the dough, make an 8-inch rope. Instead of creating a ring, roll the rope into a rectangle shape and place some of your favorite beer mustard down the center. Then top with an excellent sausage (smoked Bratwurst or another style) that is pre-cooked, and very lightly moisten the edges of the dough with water. Fold the dough ends over the sausage and pinch the sides together, creating a bagel dog on steroids. Follow the same poaching and baking procedure.
• Add raisins or currants that are first soaked in Stout (at least an hour to overnight) and then fold them into the dough.
• If you’re not a fan of rye, use 100 percent bread flour or another type of flour to give your bagels a unique flavor and texture.
• Leftover bagels can be sliced into rings and made into bagel chips. Lightly coat the sliced end with oil and bake in a 375°F oven for 8–10 minutes, until golden brown around the edges.