Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Fun Playing with Jewish Soul Food for New Year's Day

Ahhh, the bagel. Jewish Soul Food. Despite its Eastern European origin, ubiquitous almost anywhere you go. We knew that we had a couple of packets of Bagel Boss belly lox in our freezer, so we decided to treat ourselves to a luxurious New Year's Day breakfast of bagel, cream cheese and lox. But would the bagel store even be open? Did we really want to schlep out to get them? Academic questions all, once Bob agreed to take a whack at making bagels for the first time. 

The first conundrum - which recipe to use? Internet choices abounded, and every one was a little different than the one before. I didn't have time to consult our shelf of cookbooks - so internet inspiration would have to do. 

The second issue - we didn't want to have to do the entire bread-making process on Saturday morning - could some be done in advance so all that remained for breakfast-making was the final bake (or a fraction thereof)? 

Here are the answers. We began the process during the day on Friday (New Year's Eve):

Bagel dough, consisting of bread (high gluten) flour, water, yeast, malt syrup, sugar, salt

Dough is shaped and rises.

Bagels are boiled in water, about 45 seconds per side. Bob used a chopstick through the hole to flip them. Our plan was to boil them all off, then par-bake half and leave the other half in the fridge to be fully baked the next morning. That way, we could determine in side-by-side fashion which time-saving method was superior.

This was intended to be only partially baked, but wound up fully cooked. Oh darn, guess we have to taste-test them now.

Topped with a schmear of Tempt-tee whipped cream cheese, the fresh bagel made a perfect afternoon nosh to hold us until New Year's Eve dinner, which was planned for 8:30pm.

I topped the other half with Harzler's roll butter. The first experiment had fabulous taste and crumb - but the overall texture seemed a bit too soft for an authentic "New York style" bagel.

Since the first bagel batch wound up fully baked a day early, we set them aside for Sunday, and went off to Restaurant Dante to enjoy New Year's Eve dinner with friends.

Saturday morning (Happy New Year!), we baked off the four bagels that we'd boiled the day before and held overnight in the refrigerator unbaked.

Interestingly, the holes at the center of the bagels closed up a lot, and the final products were a bit smaller than their immediately-baked brethren. Most important, though - the overnight stint in the fridge did something wonderful for the texture, which solidified to a perfect chewy bite. So - boiling then holding seems to win, at least with this recipe.

Bagel Boss Belly Lox (accept no substitutes for Belly Lox)

Sliced Onion

Jewish Soul Food Perfected - home-made bagel, sliced onion, Tempt-tee schmear, belly lox. Fun Playing with New Year's Day food - this, I could get used to. Happy New Year to all!


  1. Wow, those look good! Happy New Year, Nancy!

  2. Nancy, since Bob seems to be branching out in his breadmaking adventures, might I recommend Peter Reinhart's Bread Bakers Apprentice. It has tons of great food science (first half of the book) along with some great recipes (second half), a number of which I still use to this day. I've met Peter in person and not only is he a great teacher, but also a very nice guy.

    Your bagels with a shmear look delicious!

  3. These look beyond scrumptious!! My tongue is tingling and I want to go make some homemade bagels right now! (of course if I start I probably won't be tasting them until dinnertime...)

    Your photos are really terrific - thanks for sharing them on flickr and I'm really looking forward to reading more about your creations. Awesome blog - keep up the great work!
    Rachel at Jewishmommie.com

  4. I found your blog on JewishMommie.com and look forward to following you.
    This post is SOOO impressive. I am not intimidated by homemade breads, in fact I make them all the time. But homemade bagels have always scared me. You make them look very do-able. Thanks for sharing this recipe.