A new challenge....Bagels!
In all the years that we have lived gluten-free, I have not even attempted to make a bagel. I could not tell you why, with everything else I have tried. Years ago, I used to make bagels from time to time at home. Never a common event, but it was fun once in a while.
Lately, my family has been craving bagels. It used to be a common breakfast or snack here in our house. Had I only known how sick they were actually making us, I would not have bought them as often. As with many things that we used to enjoy and having found a gluten-free alternative for, we have been ignoring the craving and moving on.
The craving for bagels was renewed when a very good friend of mine decided it was time to remove gluten from her daughter's diet. That poor girl absolutely loves bagels. My friend asked me if I knew of any good bagel recipes or if I had tried any store bought varieties. Not knowing of any, and knowing how much that girl was missing her beloved bagels, I decided to try.
I searched for a good recipe and found a few that looked promising, but was not thrilled. One recipe turned out fairly well, appearance was just about right, texture was very close but the flavor was off. It had that "gluten-free aftertaste" that turns gluten-tolerant people away and that I simply do not enjoy. I, for one, would rather go without if it carries that flavor. The other huge downside for me with this recipe is that it was mostly made from starch flours. I wanted balanced nutrition, some higher protein flours and a bit more substance to the end product.
It took some doing, asking advice from a trusted gluten-free baking professional and a couple failures to find one that worked well. The dough is easy to work with, a bit sticky, but a bit of cooking spray on your hands solves that problem. The flours are well balanced, and mild in flavor. Texture, in a bagel is key, and these have great texture.
When shaping these bagels, it is important to roll the dough into a round ball and poke a hole into the center with your finger, making sure that the hole is not too big. Making the hole too small, however, will leave you with no hole after they have risen, boiled and baked.
A great tip I learned in this process of testing was to add a couple of teaspoons of sugar to your boiling water along with the salt. It helps to give you the texture you want on the outside of your bagel. Also, brushing your bagel with an egg wash also adds to the texture and allows you to add poppy seeds, sesame seeds, rolled oats or coarse salt for added flavor.
My husband, who is the only one in our home that can eat gluten tasted them and said they were very close to the gluten version. That was a huge score for me! He is my gauge most often, since he has had the gluten versions of what I make more recently. Needless to say, I was thrilled!
This recipe will make 6-8 really big bagels, 11-12 medium sized bagels or 20 mini bagels. Honestly, you can get any number of bagels depending on the size you make. Shaping them goes quickly once you get the hang of it. This dough handles so nicely, much better than most gluten-free doughs I have worked with. A welcomed change, I assure you!
Split them in half and toast them, or make a sandwich on them. Spread them with cream cheese, butter or peanut butter and jam. The choice is yours. They are tasty and will satisfy that bagel or bread craving every time! Make them, put them in freezer bags and freeze them for later if you are not feeding a family. The taste, texture and money you will save by making your own are worth a couple of hours.