Friday, November 11, 2011

Pumpkin Bagels

It's that pumpkin time of year again!

Not that we can't get canned pumpkin any time of year.   It just  feels weird to eat pumpkin during the heat of summer.  It's a psychological thing. Of course, if you're trying to eat with the seasons or  enjoy making your own pumpkin puree this is really the only time of year to do it.

Pumpkin is pretty much hit or miss in our household. I usually like it, pumpkin pie being the exception.  Sonny will gladly eat pumpkin ice cream or pie, but otherwise turns up his nose to it. Hubby doesn't really care for it at all. So I was pretty happy that everyone liked the pumpkin bagels. Good thing too, because I've made about 3 dozen (yes, 36!) over the last 2 weeks.

This recipe is quite easy to adapt. Feel free to use canned or your own homemade pumpkin puree. I imagine pureed butternut squash or the like would work just as well. I prefer a less sweet bagel, but feel free to add more sugar or honey to taste. Raisins and cinnamon are good additions. Sesame, poppy and/or flax seeds on top are nice. Substituting a portion of the bread flour with whole wheat flour also works wonderfully and gives a more complex taste and texture, although the pumpkin flavor will not be as pronounced.  If you make more bagels than you can eat in a day or two, they freeze beautifully.  If the crusts gets soft, they can be toasted whole in a toaster oven for about 5 minutes or so.

Pumpkin Bagels
Makes about 12 x 100g bagels
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tbs dry active yeast
  • 3 tbs sugar or honey (more or less to taste)
  • 4 to 5 cups bread flour (or replace up to half with whole wheat flour)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbs oil
  • 1 tbs kosher salt (more to taste)
  • malt syrup or mild molasses for the boiling step
  • 1 egg mixed with 1 tbs water for an egg wash (optional)
These instructions assume you have a KitchenAid or similar at your disposal. You can certainly do it by hand, but it will take more time and elbow grease.  Start in a large bowl and once the dough comes together, transfer to the countertop to knead by hand.

Begin by proofing the yeast in the warm water and sugar for about 5 minutes or so, until the mixture starts to become frothy.  Add about 3.5  to 4 cups of the flour, the pumpkin puree, oil and salt and knead on speed 3 until the ingredients are well incorporated and the dough starts to form strands, about 5 minutes. (Don't be alarmed if the dough seems dry when you first start kneading. It takes a little bit for the flour to incorporate. But if it continues to stay too dry, add a little more liquid.)  The dough will likely still be sticky.   At this point, add a little more flour and knead until it is well incorporated. (I usually add about a tablespoon or two at a time and I let the dough knead for at least a couple of minutes between each addition.)

Gotta get that gluten going!
Once the dough starts to pull away from the sides, knead for two or three minutes more, or until you get a smooth and elastic dough.  It should be tacky, but it shouldn't stick to your fingers.  Let the dough rest, covered loosely with plastic wrap,  for 30 minutes. (Alternatively, you can refrigerate the dough for a day or two. It will come to a full rise, which is fine. Take it out an hour before continuing.)

Divide the dough into equal ball-shaped portions. (I use a scale to weigh out 100 g portions, of which I can get about 12).  Let the portions sit, loosely covered with oiled plastic wrap, for about another 15 minutes.

In the meantime, combine about 1 tbs malt syrup or molasses and 1 tbs kosher salt with about 6 quarts water and get that boiling. I also like to preheat my oven at this time. Preheat to 425F.

Once the 15 minutes are up, shape the bagels. I find the easiest way to shape the bagels is to poke a hole in the center and stretch it bigger. This may take a little practice. It might help if your fingers are slightly oiled to keep the dough from sticking.  Let the bagels rest again, covered loosely with oiled plastic wrap, until they have puffed up a bit, about 30 minutes. (They don't need to double in size.)

Boil the bagels for 45 seconds to 1 minute on each side. Don't crowd them; 2 to 3 at a time works well. Remove them with a slotted utensil to a rack.

boiled bagels before being brushed and baked (like my alliteration?)
Brush them with egg wash and dress with any seeds before transferring them to a sheet pan and sticking them in the oven.  I usually bake them for about 20 minutes on a baking stone.  If you don't have a baking stone, a sheet pan is just fine, although you may want to give them an extra minute or so.  Once they're done, let them cool on a rack.

If you're new to bagel making, here is the recipe that got me started. It's super easy to follow and the results are great.

If you like pumpkin, then you may enjoy these other recipes:
Thai Simmered Pumpkin with Egg
Pumpkin Bread Pudding

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