Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Extra Blueberry Bagels

A dozen blueberry bagels were on the docket today, made with 100% whole wheat and a combination of frozen and dried blueberries. The secret? Using the thawed blueberry juice as part of the liquid to infuse every bite with fresh berry flavour!

It has been far too long since I made a batch of bagels. Truth be told, the Beet Bagels that I posted last week (and made in 2017) were the last round I baked in my kitchen! For me, bagels - while delectably chewy and the perfect snack - just became too much of a process while I was in school and working. So, to celebrate the end of my program (and my ability to add more letters to the end of my name) as well as give N a treat after an April like this, I broke out the pot, honey water and high gluten flour and got to work.

I picked blueberry as the flavour for these guys for one simple reason - N loves the blueberry bagels from his local store, but being a "specialty" item they only put them out one weekend a month - not fair, I say! Since I had a ton of local blueberries in my freezer from last summer as well as a container of the same berries that I had dried, I figured I'd combine the two into an uber-blueberry bagel dough. But that wasn't all! Fate has a funny way of working, and when I went to drain the frozen berries (I thawed them first, not wanting excess liquid or cold in my dough), it struck me: blueberry juice is full of flavour and colour, along with a natural sweetness, so why not use it as part of the liquid? I carefully measured it out and added enough water to make up the difference, and I had triple blueberry bagels on my hands.

The part I always found time consuming was the shaping and boiling, and that hasn't changed to be told. However, as long as your dough is not super high-hydration (I have done that before) the bagels will hold their shape after their bath and get a beautifully glossy exterior after baking as a result. They get puffy in the water too, so bear that in mind when choosing how many to add at once - as well as the fact you need to flip them over!

Even if the boiling has you grumbling, the scent that permeates your kitchen about 5 minutes after the bagels hit the oven will remind you just why you made them in the first place. A combination of fresh baked bread and a high-summer farmer's market with just a hint of doughnut shop from the nutmeg, these would by far be perfect just eaten plain. However, when N got his hands on them, the toast-butter test was first and they passed with flying colours. The next day, I turned one (which had "popped open" in boiling and so wasn't "pretty") into French Toast and even I was amazed at how perfect the interiors were. Dense but with just enough crannies to sop up butter or honey, but with enough moisture that they don't demand it, I definitely see myself making these again.

But that will have to wait till after I finish my English courses.

Extra Blueberry Bagels
Makes 12
155 g frozen blueberries, thawed, drained, juice reserved
36 g sugar
2 tsp salt
30 g dried blueberries
412 g whole wheat bread flour
297 g all purpose flour
20 g vital wheat gluten (optional)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp active dry yeast
Water, for boiling
1 tbsp honey, for boiling
  1. In a small jug, combine the reserved blueberry juice with enough water to make 455g of liquid. 
  2. Stir in the sugar and salt and set aside. 
  3. Add the dried blueberries to the thawed berries and set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flours, gluten, nutmeg and yeast.
  5. Pour in the liquid and begin mixing on low speed for about 8 minutes, until the dough is elastic but somewhat dry looking.
  6. Add the berry mixture and knead another 2 minutes. Dough will turn a lovely shade of purple, this is fine. Dough should be sturdy and just slightly tacky (it should not stick to your fingers and pull off when touched).
  7. Cover and let the dough rest and proof  for 2 hours. This is a heavy dough, and the rising will take time. Don't rush it!
  8. Knock the dough back and divide into 12 equal sized pieces. I used a scale to weigh mine out to about 128g each. 
  9. Shape into rough balls and let rest while bringing the water and honey to a boil in a wide pot and heating the oven to 425F (convection if possible).
  10. Shape bagels either by rolling a rope and sealing the ends together (my preferred method) or poking and stretching a hole into the shaped ball. Set on a clean surface.
  11. Two or three at a time (they should not touch in the water), boil the bagels for 1 1/2 minutes per side.
  12. Drain in a spider / slotted spoon and place on a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet.
  13. When all the bagels are boiled, place the tray in the oven and bake the bagels for 23-25 minutes. When done, bagels will be golden, shiny and feel a little lighter than the dough did raw.
  14. Cool at least 5 minutes before tearing into... if you can stand it.

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