Smooth Looking Bagels
With the recent increase in food prices everyone is suffering under, I've been making more and more of my families food in the kitchen, rather than buying it pre-fab (or whatever you call pre-made food). Among many success at this I've "conquered"*: english muffins, crumpets, granola bars, bread, hot dog/hamburger buns, fruit roll-ups, salsa, tomato sauce, etc... However, I seem to have one daily commestable that eludes my cooking genius**; the bagel.
I've made many attempts at these wonderful, round, single-serve, vehicles for cream cheese, but have met with limited success. The first attempt left me with rather dry, salty, uninspired little rounds. They were servicable, but not nearly what I think of when I picture a bagel. The second attempt met with more success, producing "bagel sticks" (as I lacked the ambition for proper shaping) that were fluffy, nicely chewy, tasty, yet homunculus looking and with no outer crust (very homogenious softness). I figured my failures there were due to the accidental omission of salt, and a low baking temperature.
Undaunted I tried again, this time carefully setting out all the ingredients I would need so that the salt wouldn't fall by the wayside. I also cooked them at a higher temperature, dropping it after 5 minutes (as I do with bread 500 -> 450). However, they still failed to produce a nice, shiny, chewy/crunchy crust. Rather, they looked shriveled and raisen like. They hadn't lost any size during the baking... they just didn't seem to grow and smooth out any. They just seemed to "freeze" in the same semi-wrinkled, post-boiling shape that they went into the oven with.
So I'm asking for help to tweak my method so that I have a chance at producing truely impressive "bagel shop" bagels. Here is my method so far:
-Make the dough and allow to double in size (You're basic mix and proof). During the ferment, I do one de-gas and fold.
-Seperate dough with a sharp knife and shape. Shaped bagels are placed between two sheets of wax paper and allowed to rise for 45 minutes to an hour... until puffy.
-Bagels are placed in boiling water and allowed to boil for 2 minutes, turned, and boiled 2 minutes longer.
-They are removed from the water and placed on a baking sheet covered in corn flower. The bagels are allowed to rest for 15 minutes, then baked.
-Last batch was baked at 500º F for 5 minutes, then lowered to 450ºF for another 15.
-Finally, they are cooled on a wire rack.
I wish I could provide a picture of these bagels, but I'm pretty sure my wife ate the last one yesterday morning (as I said, they looked funky, but tasted pretty good). If I find a spare one sitting around somewhere... or if I have another partial success, I'll take a snapshot of it and post it here.
I'm planning on giving the sourdough bagel recipe I saw here a try, since the bagels pictured are exactly what I'm trying to accomplish... and I have some starter that's looking at me with big doe-eyes, wanting to be used in something.
Any help is greatly appreciated in this endevour.
*Conquered read as "Met or exceeded market quality."
**Genius read as "Base level of competence".