Friday, January 24, 2014

As an expat, you learn to adapt, live without or smuggle foodie comforts from home.

Remember that time I “smuggled” a suitcase full of pork from Germany to Istanbul? Or Turkish yufka and spices from Istanbul to Poland? Or Mexican spices and Taylor pork roll from America? I bet the airport security agents have a heyday with my suitcases!

As an expat, you also become resourceful. If a friend is traveling to the U.S. or the U.K., you can bet she’ll be asked to bring x, y or z from another fellow expat.

Last of all, you learn to replicate your favorite recipes as best you can in your new country. I’ve often done this, but recently, my husband gave me this expat request: “Can you make bagels?”
YES - I can make bagels at home! And so can you! :-)
Honestly, I haven’t made bagels since I went to culinary school because you always could find good bagels in America, especially when I lived in NYC.

But then we moved abroad!

When we lived in Istanbul, we had Turkish simit, which is kinda like a bagel, and one restaurant that served the closest thing to an American bagel. One time a girlfriend even “smuggled” over a dozen precious everything bagels from NYC for us!

In Warsaw, you would think you could find some decent bagels, but I’ve only spied some sad, plain-looking bagels at the Marks & Spencer’s store. I like everything bagels with a schmear and hubby likes them with cream cheese and lox. So off I went to the internet to find a recipe so I could make our own Everything Bagels at home!
Sad-looking M&S bagels at the store. 
Making bagels at home turns out to be a lot easier than you think! From start to finish, you can have a perfectly baked and toasted bagel in about 3 hours. If you are a little bit more patient and let the dough rest overnight, you’ll find a near-perfect replica of a chewy NY bagel once you boil and bake it the following day. Honestly, the 3-hour method is good enough for me!

And working with yeast is NOT nearly as scary as you think. In fact, I’ll be teaching how to make these bagels and American cinnamon rolls to my local girlfriends later next month. I swear yeast doesn’t need to be intimidating! Two precautions: never add salt directly to yeast or use too hot of water – both will kill the yeast.

If you are patient and if you have a willing partner like I did, you’ll soon be making your own everything bagels at home!

And the best part is, you don’t even need to be an expat to enjoy these chewy NY-style bagels at home!

Everything Bagels
Adapted from these recipes on SophisticatedGourmet and TheAmateur Gourmet
Yields: 8 normal-sized bagels or 12 “mini” bagels

2          teaspoons                     active dry yeast
1 ½      Tablespoons                granulated sugar
1 ¼      cups     (295 ml)           warm water (110-115 F/43-46 C) (Note: you may need a little more water when mixing the dough.)
3 ½      cups     (500g)             bread flour (I used Polish bread flour called maka pszenna typ 650. If you live in Turkey, use ekmek unu.)
1 ½      teaspoons                     salt

For boiling:
6          qts.                    Hot water
1          Tablespoon      honey
1          Tablespoon      baking soda

Egg wash:
1          ea.                    egg white mixed with a splash of water

Everything toppings:
1          Tablespoon    Turkish börek spice mix (a blend of poppy, flax and sesame seeds)
2          teaspoons       black sesame seeds
2          teaspoons       poppy seeds
1          teaspoon         kosher or large salt granules
½         teaspoon         garlic powder
½         teaspoon         onion powder

1. In a large bowl, add ½ cup (120 ml.) of the warm water, sugar and yeast. Do not stir. Let rest for five minutes, and then stir the yeast and sugar mixture, until it all dissolves in the water.
2. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl (or the mixing bowl of your Kitchenaid). Make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast and sugar mixture.
3. Pour half of the remaining warm water into the well.
4. Then, either work the dough by hand or use your Kitchenaid mixer with the dough hook attachment. Add a bit of water and mix the dough until you yield a moist and firm dough. Mix on low for about 2 minutes.
5. Next, to knead the dough, I turned my Kitchenaid up to medium speed and let the dough mix for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, tossing in a bit of extra flour as needed. Alternatively, on a floured countertop, knead the dough by hand for about 10 minutes.
6. Shape the dough into a large ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat all sides of the dough. Cover with a damp towel and let raise in a warm place for 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in size. (NOTE: I found the top of my refrigerator to be quite warm or my laundry room once I placed a load of laundry in the dryer.)
7. After 1 hour, punch down the dough, and let rest, covered, for another 10 minutes.
8. Turn out the dough onto your countertop. Carefully divide the dough into 8 or 12 pieces. (I used a scale to be extra precise.) Shape each piece into a round ball, moving your hand and the ball in a circular motion while pulling the dough into itself. This may take some practice, but you should end up with a perfect round ball (as pictured).
9. Coat a finger in flour, and gently press your finger into the center of each dough ball to form a ring. Stretch the ring to about ⅓ the diameter of the bagel and place on a lightly oiled baking tray. (At this point, you can place the tray, covered tightly with plastic wrap, into the refrigerator and continue with the following steps the next day.)
10. Cover the shaped bagels with a damp towel and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425F / 220C. (NOTE: I placed my pizza stone into the oven at this point too.)
11. Bring a large pot of water with the honey and baking soda (both ingredients aid in the bagel’s caramelization and texture) to a boil. Boil the bagels, 3 or 4, at a time for 2 minutes on EACH side for the normal-sized bagels or 1 ½ minutes for the “mini” bagels. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to remove the bagels and let rest on a rack while you boil the remaining bagels.
12. Place the bagels on a baking tray or pizza stone, lined with baking paper. Brush each bagel with the egg wash and then sprinkle the everything bagel spices on top and bottom. (NOTE: if you want lots of topping on your bagels, lightly press the spices onto the top and bottom of the bagel.)
13. Bake for about 20 minutes, until a deep golden brown color.
13. Let cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.
14. Slice a bagel in half, using a serrated knife, and pop into the toaster. Top your sliced bagel with a schmear of cream cheese. Enjoy!
My second batch of bagels included everything ones and plain sesame seed ones.

(NOTE: if you want to freeze your extra bagels, slice each one in half and place in a plastic freezer bag. Then, when you want to enjoy a homemade bagel, all you have to do is pop onto into the toaster and toast.)

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jaz@octoberfarm said...

these look fabulous! i have had bagels on my to do list for a while. i haven't made them in ages. maybe this will kick start me!

Terry said...

Joy, you are sooooo awesome! I will definitely try this!

Joy said...

@Joyce, thank you! These bagels did turn out pretty well. Easier to make if you get some helpers! ;-)

@Terry, good luck! Recruit your husband to help you make them. :-)

BacktoBodrum said...

I always wondered how to make the hole in the middle. Simmple when you know how.

Mike said...

I'm making these in Istanbul :D

Joy said...

@Annie, Yes, it is! Another way is roll the bagels into "snakes" and then twist to secure the ends together. But I think the method I used is easier. :-)

@Mike, That's fantastic! I hope they turn out well for you in Istanbul! Cheers!