Today we are kneading dough, letting it rise, boiling it, and then finally baking it to make our own bagels at home. Yes, we KNOW you can run down to the bagel store on the corner and get hot, fresh bagels for less than $1 apiece. But that’s not the point. The point is, we want our kids to know where bagels come from and what it takes to make one. We don’t want one of those situations like when a kid thinks beans come from a can or orange juice comes from a carton. And we have a feeble hope that maybe, just maybe, our homemade bagels will taste as good or even better than the ones at the bagel shop. Certainly they’ll taste better than (shudder) the ones that come in a bag at the supermarket.
We started with the most kid-friendly recipe we could find, which was this Bake Your Own Bagels recipe from Disney’s Family Fun site. (Note to those with big families or big appetites – it only makes eight bagels.) Despite our initial concerns that the project might be too complicated, it turned out just fine. There were even plenty of steps along the way where the kids could get truly involved in the project (stirring the dough 100 times, kneading it, punching it down, and poking the holes). The only caution is that it does take time. We started at about 6:45 in the morning, but we were not actually eating bagels until 10 am. As our 7-year-old observed, those bagel bakers must get to work awfully early in the morning.
Of course there are plenty of other recipes besides the Family Fun one. We were intrigued by Francis Lam’s story and recipe in Salon, as well as this recipe from the L.A. Times, and this recipe from Planet Green. Heck, there’s even a gluten-free bagel recipe if you need one. Curiously, most of these recipes call for rolling the dough into ropes and then connecting them to make a circle; apparently there are two different schools of thought on how to do this. True, you get a “cleaner” looking bagel when you start by making a rope, but the kids found the other technique of simply poking a hole in the dough to be much easier.
So – how did our bagels come out? Fantastic. Possibly even as good as our gold standard, the New York City bagel. Our advice: Definitely do the egg white/water coating on top of the bagels; it gives them a nice crispy golden sheen. And of course, eat them while they’re still hot. You might not even need cream cheese.
Fun Food Saturday: Because food should be fun.