So marathon weekend has finally come to NY! I am leaving my apartment in an hour or so to head to Mile 15 of the race, where I will meet up with my running buddy, Alan, and complete the last ten miles with him. Am I nervous? No, not really. 10 miles isn’t that many to me since I run 7-8 at a stretch on a regular basis. Am I excited? Most definitely. It’s going to be awesome to be a part of the insanity that is NYC on marathon day.
As an experienced marathon runner (I love that I can say that now!) I can, with confidence, say that every runner has their own pre and post-race traditions. The pre-race things tend to serve as a kind of security blanket. You do them before every long run and so on race day, you end up convincing yourself that it is not race day. It is just another Saturday or Sunday morning and you are merely going for a run in Central Park.
So I sit here, eating my oatmeal and thinking. It is just another Sunday morning. And I really will just be going for another run in Central Park (at least for the last 2 miles).
The post-race traditions, on the other hand, are what you think about during the race to get you through it. Some people dream of the beer that they will chug afterwards, or the massage that they will treat themselves to.
I fantasize about bagels. Smothered in peanut butter. Cinnamon raisin bagels to be precise. And living in NY, I am quite lucky, because good bagels are everywhere. The best ones are the ones from Queens, I must say. They are larger and denser and chewier. But the ones from Manhattan can suffice on those weekends when I don’t feel like making the trip to my parents’ house. Which is most weekends.
This is all well and good. But one night, while in a somewhat inebriated state, I came up with the notion that it would be fun to spend a weekend making my own bagels. And rather than do what any normal person would do, Justin, who has a tendency to enable all of my baking and cooking delusions of grandeur aided and abetted by not only declaring this to be an excellent idea but also offering to help with the endeavor.
So last weekend, when we had absolutely no studying to do after having had TWO exams the week prior, we spent two days slaving away in the kitchen. It was a long and strenuous process. Between the kneading of the EXTREMELY dense dough (this dough has been known to take out Kitchen Aid stand mixers within seconds) and the stress of worrying that the yeast wouldn’t rise or that the bagels wouldn’t pass The Float Test (more on that later), I was a mental wreck by the end of this process. (Justin was far more confident. That’s why I keep him around. For moral support.)
But I do have to say that once I popped these babies in the oven and the smell of cinnamon heaven started wafting through the room. It occurred to me that maybe everything would turn out okay. And then as I cut into the first bagel, smothered it with peanut butter, and took my first bite. I knew that I was in heaven.
These bagels were far more rich in flavor than any storebought bagels I have ever had. And they only got better with time (until they got stale, but now I know that I really just need to step up my bagel-eating game and not stop at one bagel a day. Either that or I need to make more friends).
Moral of the story: Even though you may think that because you live in NYC – the home of the world’s best bagels – making your own bagels is unnecessary. You are wrong. I may not be able to go back to storebought. And if this puts Hot N Crusty out of business, then I am truly sorry. But it is just something that I have to do.
Before I get to the recipe, I just want say a belated Happy Halloween to all of my readers! I love Halloween because it is the only time of year that I get to really be creative. I am a definite proponent of the homemade costume (or really any excuse to spend a night lying on my floor, coloring with Crayola Crayons).
I like to try to come up with costume ideas that really define me. Last year, for example, I was the food pyramid. I made this huge thing out of poster paper and it was awesome. And totally me. In every way.
This year, I originally intended to be a Wild Thing. From the children’s book. Where The Wild Things Are. But then I decided that I didn’t really want to be a mass of hair for Halloween.
Then, when I was in San Fran, Tiffany and I spent the hour(s) waiting for a table at The Cheesecake Factory brainstorming. And she had the most fabulous idea ever. For a costume that would define me better than any adjective ever could.
You guessed it.
We celebrated our Halloween on Friday since that was when our med school party was scheduled to be and it was a night of craziness. Our costumes didn’t quite survive (one of the downsides of having a costume made out of paper) but it was a ton of fun. That I recovered from by taking a five hour nap yesterday. Although Justin claims that anything over two hours is not really a nap, but a night of sleep. I guess for me, the partial insomniac, that is probably a valid statement.
Cinnamon Raisin Bagels
Makes 12, adapted from The Brown Eyed Baker who adapted it from Peter Reinhardt (bread god extraordinaire)
1 teaspoon (0.11 ounces) instant yeast
4 cups (18 ounces) unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
2½ cups (20 ounces) water, at room temperature
1 teaspoon (0.11 ounces) instant yeast
3¾ cups (17 ounces) unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
2¾ teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 cups loosely packed raisins, rinsed in warm water
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
Cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting
1. To make the sponge, stir the yeast into the flour in a 4-quart mixing bowl. Add the water, whisking or stirring only until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (like pancake batter). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or untiil the mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly. It should swell to nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop.
2. To make the dough, in the same mixing bowl, add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir. Then add 3 cups of the flour and all of the salt, malt, sugar and cinnamon. Stir (or mix on low speed with the dough hook) until the ingredients form a ball, slowly working in the remaining ¾ cup flour to stiffen the dough.
3. Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for at least 10 minutes (or for 6 minutes by machine), adding the raisins during the final 2 minutes. The dough should be firm, stiffer than French bread dough, but still pliable and smooth. There should be no raw flour – all the ingredients should be hydrated. The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77° to 81°F. If the dough seems too dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading. If the dough seems tacky or sticky, add more flour to achiever the stiffness required. The kneaded dough should feel satiny and pliable but not be tacky.
4. Immediately divide the dough into 4½-ounce pieces for standard bagels. Form the pieces into rolls. Cover the rolls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for approximately 20 minutes.
5. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper and mist lightly with spray oil. Shape the bagels in one of the following two ways:
5a. Poke a hole in a ball of bagel dough and gently rotate your thumb around the inside of the hole to widen it to approximately 2½ inches in diameter. The dough should be as evenly stretched as possible (try to avoid thick and thin spots).
5b. Roll out the dough into an 8-inch-long rope. Wrap the dough around the palm and back of your hand, between the thumb and forefinger, ovrlapping the ends by several inches. Press the overlapping ends on the counter with the palm of your hand, rocking back and forth to seal.
6. Place each of the shaped pieces 2 inches apart on the pans. Mist the bagels very lightly with the spray oil and slip each pan into a food-grade plastic bag, or cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the pans sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.
7. Check to see if the bagels are ready to be retarded in thee refrigerator by using the “float test”. Fill a small bowl with cool or room-temperature water. The bagels are ready to be retarded when they float within 10 seconds of being droppd into the water. Take one bagel and test it. If it floats, immediately return the tester bagel to the pan, pat it dry, covr the pan, and place it in the refrigerator overnight (it can stay in the refrigerator for up to 2 days). If the bagel does not float, return it to the pan and continue to proof the dough at room temperature, checking back every 10 to 20 minutes or so until a tester floats. The time needed to accomplish the float will vary, depending on the ambient temperature and the stiffness of the dough.
8. The following day (or when you are ready to bake the bagels), preheat the oven to 500°F with the two racks set in the middle of the oven. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (the wider the pot the better), and add the baking soda. Have a slotted spoon or skimmer nearby.
9. Remove the bagels from the refrigerator and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many as comfortably fit (they should float within 10 seconds). After 1 minute flip them ovr and boil for another minute. If you like very chewy bagels, you can extend the boiling to 2 minutes per side. While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the same parchment-lined sheet pans with cornmeal or semolina flour.
10. When all the bagels have ben boiled, place the pans on the 2 middle shelves in the oven. Bake for approximately 5 minutes, then rotate the pans, switching shelves and giving the pans a 180-degree rotation. (If you are baking only 1 pan, keep it on the center shelf but still rotate 180 degrees.) After the rotation, lower the oven setting to 450F and continue baking for about 5 minutes, or until the bagels turn light golden brown. You may bake them darker if you prefer.
11. Remove the pans from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving.
QUESTION – I am thinking of trying to make pumpkin spice bagels. Does anyone have any idea of how I should alter a typical plain bagel recipe to account for the extra moistness that the pumpkin will add?