Monday, June 1, 2009

Island Bagels

Typical day in Paradise...a cruise ship passes by the bagels

This week's Bread Bakers Apprentice challenge was to make bagels. The recipe was different in a few ways from previous bagel recipes I have made. Peter has developed a recipe including a sponge, a wet mixture of flour, yeast and water that is the base for the eventual dough. I used my new bread whisk to stir up the sponge and it worked great.

This sponge is allowed to rest, giving a richer flavor. Then additional flour, water and yeast are added to the sponge. I used my Kitchen Aid to do the dough and to knead the dough.

Thirdly, he suggests putting the shaped bagels into the refrigerator over night to retard the rise and add further flavor and chew. His recipe suggests balls of dough that are 4.5 ounces, but I made mine 4 ounces, as well as some mini bagels that were 2 ounces.

Tis is a water bagel, which has a chewy texture and great flavor achieved by retarding the proofing process over night in a refrigerator. In my first batch, I think I may have had a little too much yeast, as I used my sourdough starter for the sponge (longer proofed starter than just adding straight yeast) and then added the fresh yeast called for in the dough.

Another thing I did that varied from Peter's suggestion is that I baked my bagels directly on my hearth stone insert in my oven, instead of on pans. Except for breads that have to be baked in a form, I bake all of my bread this way. This means that I had to put them on a peel coated with cornmeal or semolina before baking. Here they are baking:

They were very puffy, but ever so delicious. The next batch I made came out more like I like my bagels, but it was done with just fresh yeast and no retardation. Having said that, I prefer Montreal style bagels, which are more pretzel like in texture, instead of the more puffy and bread like commercial bagels.

We took some of the first batch over to our friends Joey and Bonnie's for brunch. We enjoyed them along with Bonnie's Waffles, fresh fruit, Bloody Marys and Champagne while watching the incredibly blue sea from their lanai.
I also had some extra dough when I made the second batch... and a hungry husband. So I made a few "Bagel Dogs" and they came out great. He loved them and proclaimed them the best thing I have ever made. He is extremely enthusiastic sometimes. The good thing here and now is the best thing. Wes is famous for proclaiming, "That was the best dinner I have ever eaten in a private residence." I must have heard that at least 50 times. He is also a big hot dog fan, so that may have had something to do with his proclamation, but he has been eating a lot of my bread baking samples lately and I do think he liked the bagel dogs best of the BBA challenge recipes so far.  He has been having a bagel with creamed cheese every morning since the first batch came out on Sunday. Here is a close up of the bagel dogs:

Toppings are added to the bagels when they come out of the boiling water. I sweetened my water with malt syrup. Here they are in their bath:

I made a variety of toppings and all were delicious. I still think I like sesame best. Wes likes the onion. For the onion topping you can reconstitute dried onions and the same goes with garlic, or you can lightly sauté fresh onions or garlic with olive oil for a few minutes as I did and achieve a fresher flavor. I also used my smoked salt, poppy seeds, sesame seeds and a red Hawai'ian Salt mixture that has some garlic and herbs in it. I even added just a bit of cornmeal to a few of them. With the seeded varieties, I added a tiny bit of my smoked salt to the top.

Here is a bagel "just formed":

I still think I need to work on perfecting this particular recipe. If I use yeast as Mr. Reinhardt suggests instead of the sourdough starter, I can be more exact. The taste was incredible, but they were not as "pretty" as I wanted them to be. They should make great bagel chips and sandwiches! Of course if Wes has his way I will be making more bagel dogs.  I think I will try making small appetizer size bagel dogs someday soon.

This week we are doing Brioche, one of my favorite breads. It is a rich egg and butter bread with a glossy crust that also is incredible in French toast and sandwiches. Till then, Aloha.


susies1955 said...

As always you have great photos with a great write up. Love your bagels.

peteeatemall said...

I am for sure makin bagel dogs next husband will love em! I will have to make "not" dog - somethin soy for me...great pics as always!!

Devany said...

Susie~ Thanks for the comment. Fun to see you here every week.

Pete Girl, Thanks for dropping by. Soy dogs work fine in the bagel dogs. I did a batch yesterday and froze them. Now, if I could just find mini soy dogs to make appetizer sized ones! I love your "Not Dog" label!

Janice said...

I'm so impressed you are doing these breads in the humidity of Hilo! And since I haven't found great bread ever on the Big Island (in my 4 or 5 times there), I'm going to be stopping by your house the next time I'm over there. Just kidding, of course, but it's great baking with you in the Challenge!

Jeff said...

Way to stay at it. I like the idea of sourdough and reminds me I have to feed bob the blob (my sourdough starter) tonight.

I am a huge pretzel fan and actually kind of bummed because I did not see a pretzel recipe in the BBA. Any recommendations for one?

Devany said...


The humidity does not really have an effect on baking the breads, though keeping things crispy after baking is a challenge. I bake directly on a hearth insert till my wood burning oven is finished.

You are right, finding great bread on this island is a challenge, that is why baking our own is so important. I have an article coming out in the summer issue of Edible Hawaiian Islands Magazine about The Big Island's own Itinerant Bakers from the Sandwich Isle Bread Company. This guy built a wood burning oven and put it on a trailer so he takes it around the island to farmer's markets and makes rustic loaves on the spot! You can subscribe to the magazine at or wait for the story to come online in a month or so.

Meanwhile, if you are coming to the island again, let me know.


Devany said...


Yes, I do have a great sourdough pretzel recipe as well as the Montreal Bagel recipe if you would like it. Send me an e-mail @ and I will send them to you.