Hoowee! We had 40 people come over for an end-of-the-year party. What to make? How about homemade mini bagels with lox and cream cheese?
My wife Becca gave me the idea – one she had found in a cookbook for entertaining. Being the hopeless mama’s boy I am, I turned instead to my Mom’s cookbook for her bagel recipe. I found it in Breads From Betsy’s Kitchen.
Essentially, I took her recipe for 32 bagels and changed three things: I added regular barley malt to the boiling water (honey would also have worked), cut the boiling time from 3 minutes to 30 seconds (otherwise the bagels became super thin and wrinkly – see the plain bagels at the top of the picture below), and made the bagels half-sized so I ended up with 64 of them.
They were well-received at the party. However, I don’t assume that party guests will necessarily be honest if they don’t like what a host serves…
To my face: “Oh, these mini bagels are delicious!”
Behind my back: (gags, spits into napkin, guzzles pinot grigio to get rid of taste).
Not saying that my friends aren’t honest, it’s just that common decency keeps average mortals from insulting their hosts. So, while I heard good things about the mini bagels from the partygoers, the actual barometer I used to determine whether or not the recipe was a hit was my 17 year old son.
Tynan is a great test taster. He’ll let me know when something is meh. He’ll also let me know when a bread is awesome. He does this not so much through words, but by the number of helpings he takes.
If you have a teenage boy with a car, you know that you are lucky to see them for only the briefest of moments as they grab food from the cupboard on their way out the door to god knows where. And so it was that Ty was zipping through the kitchen and took a brief moment to try a mini bagel with cream cheese. And then he asked for another. And another. And then he asked if he could take a few for the road.
Needless to say, I have good reason to believe that these mini bagels are a real hit…
- 2 scant tablespoons (or 2 ¼-ounce packages active dry yeast)
- 2½ cups warm water about 110 degrees
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons diastatic barley malt powder
- 7 to 8 cups unbleached flour
- Cornmeal for dusting pans
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 quarts boiling water
- 1 tablespoon honey or regular barley malt
- Glaze - 1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons milk
- Poppy,Sesame, Coarse Salt, etc. (optional)
In a large bowl, stir yeast into water to soften. Add salt, barley malt, and 3 cups flour. Beat vigorously for two minutes.
Gradually add flour, ¼ cup at a time, until the dough begins to pull away from the side of the bowl.
Turn dough out onto a floured work surface. Knead, adding flour a little at a time, until you have a smooth, elastic dough. Bagel dough should be kneaded for at least 15 minutes. Add enough flour to make the dough stand in a firm ball on the work surface (should be more firm than regular bread dough).
Put dough into an oiled bowl. Turn to coat the entire ball of dough with oil. Cover with a tightly woven towel and let rise until doubled, about one hour.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface. Divide into 64 equal pieces of dough. Shape each piece into a ball. Insert your finger or thumb through the center of each ball and stretch to make a 1-inch hole. Place on baking sheets that have been lightly sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover lightly with plastic wrap then a tightly woven tightly woven towel. Both covers are essential! Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.
About 10 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove the bagels from the refrigerator.
In a 12-inch Dutch-style oven or large cooking vessel, dissolve the sugar and the honey (or regular barley malt) in the boiling water. Keep the water on a slow boil.
Drop three or four bagels, one at a time, into the water. Do not crowd. Turn them over after 30 seconds. After 30 more seconds, remove with a slotted spoon. Place on a well-greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.
Just before baking, brush each bagel lightly with the glaze and sprinkle with seeds or salt, if desired.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until browned.
Immediately remove bagels from baking sheets and cool on a rack.