whole wheat bagels

by Stacy

Since we moved into our apartment in mid-September I have gone through over 15 pounds of flour already. A few cups for sandwich bread each week, pizza crust, several batches of flour tortillas, scones, waffles, tarts, quiches… it adds up fast!

After forcing so many vegetables on the hubby lately, I thought I would be nice and let him pick my next bread project; he requested bagels. I had recently come across a Peter Reinhart recipe at Proceed With Caution and figured whole wheat bagels were a good plan.

Mine did not turn out quite as beautiful as those, but they were still tasty. The hubby thought they were a little dry — mine was toasted a bit too dark, so I can’t really vote and I only ate one. I would be willing to try them again and try some fun toppings instead of plain like this batch.

The recipe is a two day method which allows the flavor and gluten to develop overnight, allowing the whole grain breads to be soft without a lot of additives. It’s almost identical to the whole wheat sandwich bread and has a biga and soaker sitting for about 12 hours before they are combined with a bit more flour, salt, yeast, and water.

homemade whole wheat bagels

A bit of mixing gives you a lovely ball of dough.

homemade whole wheat bagels

After a 45-60 minute rise, the dough is cut into pieces (I got 8 out of mine) that are rolled into ropes and formed into bagels.

homemade whole wheat bagels

homemade whole wheat bagels

The bagels sit and rise for 20-30 minutes. Mine puffed up just beautifully and I was quite happy.

homemade whole wheat bagels

See? Puffy. Love it.

Alas, my happiness was to be short-lived. While the bagels are proofing, the oven is preheated to 500F and a large pot of water is brought to a boil with some baking soda mixed in.

Mixing and forming bagels was fine. Boiling bagels is not, I learned, a strength of mine. While transporting the bagels to the pot I managed to deflate them. Next time I will try using a large spatula instead of my poky fingers which left unsightly dents. So sad.

homemade whole wheat bagels

Boiled, but not puffy. Poor bagels.

The deflation may have contributed to the “dry” assessment as a puffier bagel may have had a better texture. I will let you know if I improve my bagel boiling skills.

homemade whole wheat bagels

After 25-30 minutes in the oven, the bagels were nicely browned. The oven spring wasn’t huge (I presume because of the boiling cooking the outside already), but it did at least disguise the most egregious dents. They were still a bit flatter than I wanted, but less lumpy than before.

It was fun to make them and it took less time than I thought it would. Don’t let the number of steps scare you. Just out of curiosity, I tried calculating out the cost of ingredients: less than $1.25 to make 8 bagels — less than the price of one bagel at a bagel shop. Not a bad deal.

Whole Wheat Bagels

Adapted from Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads
Makes 6-8 bagels

1 3/4 cups (227 grams) whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon (4 grams) salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (142 grams) water
2 tablespoons (35.5 grams) barley malt syrup, dark or light (for most authentic flavor), or honey

1.) Combine flour, salt, water and syrup or hoeny in a bowl and mix for 1 minute until all flour in incorporated and dough forms a ball. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours. If it will be longer than 24 hours, refrigerate up to 3 days, removing from refrigerator 2 hours before using.

1 3/4 cups (227 grams) whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) instant yeast
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (142 grams) filtered or spring water, at room temperature (about 70 degrees F)

1.) Mix together flour and yeast. Add water, stirring to combine. With wet hands, knead the dough to ensure all the flour is hydrated and dough feels tacky, about 2 minutes. Let dough rest for 5 minutes, then knead for 1 more minute. Dough will still be tacky, but it will get smoother.

2.) Transfer dough to a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours (up to 3 days). Remove from fridge 2 hours prior to mixing final dough. It will have risen slightly.

Final Dough:
All of the Soaker
All of the biga
5/8 teaspoon (5 grams) salt
2 1/4 teaspoons (7 grams) instant yeast
2 tablespoons (28.5 grams) water, at room temperature (about 70 degrees F)
7 tablespoons (56.5 grams) whole wheat flour
bagel toppings
2 teaspoons baking soda
beaten egg white for toppings (optional)

1.) Chop biga and soaker into 12 pieces of approximately the same size using a metal pastry scraper. Sprinkle the pieces with a little flour to prevent sticking if needed.

2.) Dissolve yeast in water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add soaker and biga pieces to the bowl add the salt and water. Mix using the dough hook on low speed for 1 minute until dough forms a ball. Add flour and mix on medium-low speed for about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until the biga and the soaker are evenly combined. Add more flour or water as needed; dough should be fairly stiff so turn off the mixer from time to time to avoid stressing the motor.

3.) Turn dough out onto a floured work surface, turning the dough to coat. Knead the dough for 3-4 minutes, incorporating just enough flour that it is supple enough to shape. Form the dough into a ball and let it rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare a clean, lightly oiled bowl.

4.) After the 5 minute rest, knead for 1 final minute, ensuring that the dough is soft and satiny, but strong and able to pass the windowpane test. Make any final flour or water adjustments as needed. Form the dough into a ball and place it in the oiled bowl, rolling to coat. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 45-60 minutes until dough is about 1½ times its original size. Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet dusted with flour or cornmeal.

5.) Once risen, transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Divide the dough into 6-8 equal pieces (about 4 ounces each). Roll each piece into a rope 8 inches long. Wrap the rope around your hand and press the two ends into the counter to seal them together. The hole in the center should be about 2 inches across. Place formed dough on the prepared baking sheet, cover with a clean towel, and leave at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.

6.) Preheat oven to 500F. Prepare another baking sheet with parchment sprayed with oil or a silicone baking mat. In a large pot, bring 4 inches of water to a boil. Add the baking soda to the boiling water then lower heat to maintain a steady simmer.

7.) After 20-30 minutes of rising time, the bagels should be ready to boil. Start by dropping one in the water; if it doesn’t float within 30 seconds, let it boil until it does, but let the other bagels rest another 5 minutes before trying again. If the first one floats, boil it for about 30 seconds, then turn and boil another 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on prepared baking sheet. Boil bagels 2-4 at a time for about a minute total (30 seconds each side). Apply toppings using an egg wash to help them stick if needed.

8.) Place the bagels in the oven and turn the temperature down to 450F. Bake for 15 minutes, rotate baking sheet, and bake another 10-15 minutes until bagels are nicely browned both on top and bottom. Cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes before serving.

homemade whole wheat bagels

homemade whole wheat bagels

Submitted to YeastSpotting

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan/Wild Yeast November 25, 2009 at 11:36 pm

I wonder if proofing the bagels a bit less before boiling might help them not deflate? At any rate, your bagels look very tasty. Whole wheat bagels are something I definitely need to try!


stacy November 26, 2009 at 12:22 am

I think it was user error on the deflation. Granted, I let them go 30 minutes before I tried boiling them instead of checking at 20, but I sort of smooshed them (you can see fingerprints). That’s why I need to try them again!


Mimi December 2, 2009 at 12:58 pm

They still look tasty even though they got dented. The texture of the cut bagel looks good like as if they were nice and chewy.


stacy December 3, 2009 at 12:25 pm

Thank you! I think the texture was fine, albeit a smidge dry, it just would have been nice to have had a bit more loft. It was a fun project, though, so I am sure I will try again!


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