I had a ton of whey left over from making farmers cheese this week and so I thought I would experiment with my usual bagel recipe. I’m an experimenter at heart when it comes to food but, if I nail a bread recipe, I usually leave it be. Really, once you’re certain you’ve got the perfect bagel recipe, do you really want to mess with it? Still, as I said, I was floating in whey and I had to do something with it. It turns out that I made the right choice. These bagels are still wonderfully chewy with a slightly crisp crust and now they’ve got a fantastic hint of sourness to them as well. Plus, whey is incredibly healthy, especially compared to tap water.
240ml whey (water can be substituted), warm (105° to 115°F/40° to 46°C)
1/3tsp active dry yeast
1/4oz granulated sugar
17oz bread flour
1) Dissolve yeast in warm whey. Add honey, sugar & salt, mixing briefly. Add bread flour to the yeast mixture slowly, mixing as you go, adding just enough flour to make a stiff, smooth dough. Knead briefly (one minute) to ensure all ingredients are combined.
2) Cover tightly with damp towel or cling film. Let dough rest in a warm place until doubled, approximately one hour.
3) Punch down the dough gently and divide into eight equal portions, approximately 80 grams each. Between your palms, roll dough back and forth to form a rope. Length of rope is dependent on size of bagel you wish to achieve, though I usually roll mine out to nine inches. If you have trouble rolling the dough out to achieve desired length, roll as much as possible and then let dough rest for ten minutes to let the gluten relax before trying again.
4) To form, overlap the ends of the ropes about 1/2 inch and rock the dough back and forth between your palms to seal. Try to achieve uniform thickness throughout your ring (although, clearly, I didn’t). The rings do not have to be perfect, just close to it, otherwise they won’t bake uniformly.
5) Place on a lightly floured surface and let rise until less than slightly doubled in size. As they rise, prepare the poaching liquid by combining water & honey and bringing it to a boil on the stove. Preheat oven to 420°F/216°C. Prepare your baking tray with parchment paper.
7) Once the dough has risen sufficiently and the poaching liquid has come to a boil, reduce the temperature to a simmer. Carefully, with a slotted spoon, lower a bagel into the liquid and poach for approximately two minutes. I usually poach two at a time, depending on the size of the pot I am using. Halfway through, flip the bagel in the liquid to boil the opposite side. They are well-boiled when they are puffed and shiny. They will reduce in size, slightly, once out of the water but will retain their rubbery appearance.
8) Place bagels on baking tray one inch apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes until they begin to just brown and then carefully flip the bagels over and continue baking for approximately 10 minutes longer. Remove bagels from oven when they are baked through and browned on the second side. Let cool on wire rack and try not to eat all in one sitting.