I demurred when my wife, the Lovely & Talented Cheryl DeGroot, dared me to use an entire batch of dough to make one gigantic bagel.
But then she double-dog dared me, so I really had no choice.
Nancy Leson claims she can make a decent batch of bagels in one hour, start to finish. Nance rolls out her method in this month's PCC Sound Consumer. I say that decent is a matter of how low one sets the bar, though I do thank her for pointing out that bagel toppings can also be put on the bottom. So obvious but I never thought of it. No more saving the top for last!
Our giant bagel project took careful planning. I use Rose Levy Berenbaum's bagel recipe from her book, The Bread Bible, but leave out the coarse black pepper she calls for because, well, that's just plain weird.
Unlike Nancy's speed bagels, mine take three days. First, I make a sponge and leave it overnight in the fridge. Next day, I knead the dough and give it another cold overnight and in the morning shape the dough into bagels, boil and bake them.
Shaping the giant bagel wasn't hard. I just slammed down the entire mass of dough, shaped it into a rough disk, poked my hand into the middle and worked a large hole into it. I was concerned that it would be too floppy to handle without deforming it so the two of us used all four hands to transfer it to a parchment paper-lined aluminum pizza platter for its overnight ferment.
When it came time to boil the bagel, we stretched the parchment taut and carefully lowered the paper and dough into a large wok filled with boiling water. The parchment came loose in a minute. I fished it out, then ladled hot water over the bagel rather than attempting to flip it.
From there it was a snap to drain the behemoth bagel on a towel, top with seeds and get it into a 375-degree oven for 45 minutes. After cooling for about three hours, we sampled our creation and lo, it was good.
Nancy asked asked me “First the giant Cheez-it, now the giant bagel. What's next?" My shocking answer can be found in this week's episode.
“I have very strong opinions about bagels.” – J. Kenji Lopez-Alt