Sunday, January 22, 2012

Healthier Homemade Whole Wheat Bagels

Homemade Whole Wheat Bagels
I always feel guilty when I eat bagels, they are a pretty high calorie breakfast. Not that high calorie breakfasts are bad. I think breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It sets the tone for the rest of your day. Sometimes the bulk of my daily caloric intake occurs during that first meal of the day, but I always try to make sure that those calories are nutrient rich, ie. full of iron, potassium, omega 3's, calcium, and fiber. That usually means oatmeal, dried fruit and nuts, granola, or Greek yogurt. I eliminated bagels from my diet when I first started to become health conscious not just for the calories but the emptiness of those calories.

Why did I bake bagels then you ask? Well I've found that when you make your breads from scratch you can control the salt, fat and nutritional content of the flour. Add a little prodding from my cousin for a bagel recipe and I quickly became determined to give bagels another go and perhaps make them healthier along the way.

The first thing I looked for was a simple basic recipe. I really didn't want to go the whole sponge/water weigh-the-dough-three-days-later-and-you-have-bagels route. I wanted a recipe that basically takes the same amount of time as making homemade buns or bread.

The second thing that I looked for was a dough that was low fat and low sugar. This recipe uses only a tablespoon of oil and a tablespoon of brown sugar.

The third requirement was whole wheat organic flour. This recipe had to be full of complex carbs.

So after quite a bit of research plus some significant changes and substitutions, I have developed what I think is a great recipe for basic plain whole wheat bagels. They have the perfect bagel consistency: dense but not hard, crisp edges, soft tender warm crumb on the inside and they have that amazing bagel chewiness. The brown sugar also adds a nice caramelized flavour that complements the whole wheat. This recipe is great as is or as a blank canvas for some incredible additions like cheese, cinnamon and raisins, chopped onion, minced garlic, caraway, poppy or sesame seeds.

Homemade Whole Wheat Bagels
Homemade Whole Wheat Bagels
by Kaitlyn McFadden

*makes 8 regular sized bagels

  • 1 1/2 cups of warm water
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp dry active yeast
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tsp salt *optional (I always omit)
  • 4 - 5 cups whole wheat flour. Bread is best but I used Bobs Red Mill Organic Whole Wheat All Purpose Flour with excellent results
  • Large pot of water
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp of baking soda

  1. Add the warm water, 1 tbsp brown sugar and yeast to a large bowl or stand mixer. Let sit until the mixture is frothy.
  2. Add the oil and optional salt and mix. Add the flour cup by cup until the mixture forms a ball. Only add flour if needed; dough should be smooth, not sticky and elastic but not too soft. The dough should be firmer and harder to knead than say a traditional sandwich bread. My dough was so firm that I let it rest for 5 minute intervals while kneading to allow the gluten to relax a bit. Knead for approximately 15 minutes.
  3. Form into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover and let rest in a warm place until doubled.
  4. Preheat oven to 450F.
  5. Punch down the dough and divide into eight pieces. Form the pieces into balls pulling the dough tightly around and pinching it at the bottom to seal. Let rest 2 minutes then form into bagels by poking your thumb through the middle and using your fingers to stretch out the hole in the middle to approximately 2 inches in diameter. They will puff up so the hole needs to be big enough to accommodate for that.
  6. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes. While those are resting boil the pot of water and add the tbsp of brown sugar. When the bagels are puffed up a bit more after resting and ready to be boiled add the tsp of baking soda to the pot of boiling water. Add the bagels to the water in batches. Boil for 30 seconds then flip and boil for 30 seconds more. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silpat. Sprinkle with desired toppings.
  7. Place in oven and immediately turn the oven down to 425F. Bake for 17-20 minutes. Flipping them over for the last minute of baking.
  8. Enjoy fresh out of the oven. Freeze any bagels you don't eat that day to retain their freshness.