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Bagels, yep, we’re making bagels… but first, snow.
I hope I always remember how, the morning after a hard night, I woke to look out the bathroom window and gasp. Powdered sugar was falling from the sky. What initially looked, by all accounts, to be just another ordinary day, caused me to halt right there, with my bed hair and morning breath.
“Tim! It’s snowing!”
“I thought snow the wonder of the world. The snow-light filling the house with magic as the white flakes drifted down in windless silence, the splendour when the sun came out and hills and fields and trees sparkled under the arc of the blue sky, the thought of the things one did in the snow, tobogganing and snowballing and building a snowman; it was all ecstasy. And somewhere tucked away at the back of one’s mind was the knowledge that every crystal in the vast whiteness, though too small for the human eye to see, was fashioned like a flower or a star. How could snow not be the wonder of the world?” –Elizabeth Goudge, The Joy of the Snow
Likewise, to remember:
All three of us outside, clad in our odd array of rain boots, scarves, and baby sneakers, trails forming on the driveway, flakes landing on long lashes, cheeks turning bright pink.
Later that night, the baby in bed, the two of us making what’s called a yeast levain, tossing together einkorn flour and water and a pinch of yeast.
And, Saturday: baking bagels (not my idea), a half-day project for which I’d had little hope but appreciated great reward. Turns out it is such a revelation to watch flour and water become bread, to bake something you never thought you wanted to try, to look at the homemade einkorn bagels before you and, as co-creators, think they are good.
The trick to discover the magic of homemade bagels that overwhelms the sense of hassle is to go into it expecting a long and arduous baking project. You’ll have to start the night before, and then you’ll need to be around for the whole morning if you want to have bagels by lunch.
So much time! Other people buy bagels at the store! Of course, I could also tell you the end reward will be worth it, that homemade bagels are as gasp-inducing as the year’s first snow, but I’d rather you go into it like I did: expecting little, wondering why you should bother, so you can likewise see the incredible results before your very own eyes.
If you’ve never heard of einkorn, it’s an ancient form of wheat that was one of the first used when humans switched from hunting and gathering to agriculture.It hasn’t been hybridized, has fewer chromosomes than modern wheat, and doesn’t have the D genome (which may be why many have problems with digestion of modern varieities). We discuss it in more detail here.
Though they take some preparation, these homemade bagels are as good as any from New York City, slightly crispy on the outside and with just the right amount of softness and chewiness inside. And they are made with einkorn flour so they are easier to digest than conventional wheat-based bagels.
For the 1 cup (250 g) of Yeast Levain:
- 1 cup (120 g) einkorn flour (all purpose or, 1 1/4 cups whole grain)
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (130 g) warm water, about 100°F
- Pinch of active dry yeast
For the Bagels:
- 3/4 cup (177 g) warm water, at 100°F
- 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
- 4 1/2 cups (540 g) all-purpose einkorn flour
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- Olive oil, for brushing the baking sheet
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
For the Toppings:
- Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, garlic, Italian herbs, etc. (optional)
The night before, make your yeast levain. (Rests 6-8 hours)
- Mix together warm water and a pinch of yeast in a medium-sized bowl, until yeast dissolves.
- Add flour and stir until combined. Cover the bowl with plastic and leave it on the counter overnight, or for 6-8 hours.
In the morning, make your dough. (Rests 2-3 hours)
- Your levain should have bubbles on the surface. Stir in an additional 1/4 teaspoon of yeast. To the levain, add the water and maple syrup, and stir until combined.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add the liquid levain mixture to the flour, set aside the bowl used to hold the liquids, and stir everything together with a stiff spatula as thoroughly as you can.
- Next, get your hands in there, pushing and pressing the dough together until it’s sort of a solid, craggy mass. Turn mixture out onto a clean work surface, and knead it by hand briefly until the dough starts to feel a little sticky. If you’re feeling discouraged, take heart: this is the hardest part of the process.
- Lightly oil the bowl that previously had the liquids in it, and place the ball of dough inside. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let proof for 2-3 hours in a warm place or, during the winter, the closest thing to warm you have.
Shape the dough. (Rests 45 minutes)
- Brush a baking sheet lightly with olive oil. Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and divide it evenly into 10 equal pieces (a bench scraper works great here). Roll the pieces into balls and then use your thumb to push up and through the middle, pressing the dough around the sides to create a ring that resembles a bagel.
- Place the shaped dough on the prepared baking sheet and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Stretch out the plastic on the counter, brush it with oil, and then placing it oil-side-down over the baking sheet.
- Let rest 45 minutes. Meanwhile, put baking stone(s) (if you have them; if you don’t, use a baking sheet) in the oven and preheat the oven to 500°F.
Boil the dough. (Rests 30 minutes)
- Use a large stockpot to bring 2 quarts of water to a barely boiling simmer on the stove. Add the baking soda. The mixture will foam up a little and then subside. At this point, increase the heat to bring the water to a rolling boil.
- Take one of your prepared bagels and drop it in the boiling water. It should float up to the surface pretty quickly. If it doesn’t, stop everything and let the bagels proof for another 30 minutes.
- If it does rise, go ahead and start boiling your bagels. Working in batches of three at a time, give them 45 seconds on one side, then use a slotted spoon to flip them to the other side and continue to boil for 20 seconds more. Then use the same spoon to lift them out of the water and onto a cooling rack.
- Let the bagels rest for about 2 minutes, and then press them into plates of whatever toppings you like.
Bake. (Takes about 13 minutes)
- Last step! Put the shaped and boiled dough directly onto your heated baking stones. I found that using pot holders to move out the racks holding the baking stones made it easiest to put the shaped dough right on top without burning myself. Bake for 13 minutes, or until shiny and golden on top.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes on cooling racks. Serve with cream cheese, or your favorite spread and toppings.
Recipe adapted from Jovial Foods.
Nutritional information below does not include optional toppings.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Category: Bagels
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Breakfast
Keywords: einkorn, bagel, breakfast, artisan bread
What about you? Did you make these and love them as much as we did? Let us know in the comments below, and please rate the recipe!
And if you are a fan of einkorn wheat, then you’ll enjoy these recipes:
- Maple Blueberry Coconut Oil Scones Made with Einkorn Flour
- Einkorn Rye Chocolate Chip Pancakes
- Salted Rosemary Einkorn Breadsticks
Photos by Shanna Mallon, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photos via Jovial. Originally published on January 9, 2017. Last updated: December 29, 2019 at 9:22 am.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.