My First Try At Homemade Bagels

Bagels were actually included in the handful of foods I would willingly consume as a small child. Back then, they had to be Lender’s cinnamon raisin, frozen then lightly toasted, with just a tiny bit of unsalted butter. I don’t know how that became my thing, but all my fellow picky eaters out there know how important brands and food rituals can be. You find something you like and you don’t change it. EVER.

I was probably in middle school the first time I ordered a bagel from Dunkin Donuts. (GASP!) It was still cinnamon raisin, and I refused the cream cheese, but inside I was thoroughly impressed by my new found “adventurous” streak. In high school, a couple of my friends worked at a smaller bagel shop. I tried a cinnamon sugar bagel, and eventually a plain bagel with cream cheese. I know, I know, I was getting out of control!

Eventually I came to realize bagels are a magical vehicle for all kinds of flavors. (I also realized I was crazy for not embracing cream cheese earlier than I did.) It probably helped that my sister and a few friends went to school at NYU and on my visits to see them, my eyes were opened to the wonderful world of New York bagels.

In the past year, I’ve been dabbling in baking. Mostly simple cupcakes and pizza dough, and most recently I’ve experimented with bread. It’s not my strongest suit, but it’s a lot of fun and I hope eventually I can get more comfortable. The other day I was in the store and saw malt syrup, and I remembered hearing on many a cooking show that it was the secret to bagel making. Other than the water in Brooklyn, of course. So I decided to give it a go.

Unlike my cooking, I can not bake things off the top of my head yet. Especially not something I’ve never made before. So I followed this recipe.

Follow this word for word. My bagels came out AMAZING. I have never had a more successful first try at baking anything. I made eight bagels. They were medium sized, like what you would find in the grocery store. If you wanted a big bakery sized bagel, I would make six. Based on what I had in my pantry I made two plain, two sesame, two onion and garlic, and two apple cinnamon.

Apple cinnamon was my nod to my younger days. I didn’t have raisins, so I improvised by making apple chips the day I made the bagel dough, which has to rest overnight. I coated apple slices in cinnamon and sugar, and baked them for 45 minutes in a 250 degree oven until they became mostly dehydrated. I didn’t want them completely crispy and dry so I let them cool slightly, put them in a plastic bag and they went into the fridge with the dough.

The day of baking, I finely diced the apples and applied them as a topping the same way the recipe explains using the sesame seeds or onion and garlic. When the bagels were done baking, I sprinkled on some cinnamon sugar and let those two bake for a couple minutes more. Avoid getting the sugar on the bottom though, or the bagels will stick to the pan. My husband I didn’t even slice these guys, we ate them like cinnamon buns the moment they were cool enough to shove in our mouths.

Bonus tip! Today I decided to have some fun with a plain bagel and try a couple different toppings. I toasted it and spread cream cheese on both halves. For my savory side, I sprinkled on some garlic flakes, chopped green onion and fresh chives. For my sweet side, it was cinnamon and a drizzle of organic honey. Best. Breakfast. Ever.

Nine year old me would only eat frozen bagels from the grocery store. Twenty nine year old me can’t imagine buying a bagel from the grocery store ever again. It’s homemade, or at least from a bakery, from now on.

And always with cream cheese.

{follow me on twitter & instagram: @thepickygourmet}

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