Cranberry-Walnut Apple Bagels (and tips for better bagel dough)

by cillefish

*
I made some more homemade bagels (recipe here), this time adding:

  • 1 smallish (fuji-sized) Gala apple, cored, peeled** and minced
  • 1/3 cup dried sweetened cranberries, chopped up a bit
  • 1/3-1/2 cup walnuts, chopped up so the largest bits are about 1/2- to whole-peppercorn size, max.
  • most of a 1/4 tsp measure of each: cardamom and ground powdered/dried ginger.
  • 5 or so good strokes on the nutmeg-grater of fresh nutmeg, or a SMALL pinch of the pre-ground stuff (but you should get a nutmeg grater and do it yourself because the flavor is WAY better)

These are SO GOOD with butter and honey on them. Great on their own, too; the spices are barely-there, which is good; you could add more if you want, but I think they’ll be a bit obtrusive if you push it.

I came across a few recipes that added a little bit of sugar to the boiling water, so I tried that. The sugar perhaps helps give the bagels a bit more of that slightly-shiny, crusty outside, but the effect wasn’t extremely noticeable.

Notes and Tips on the Dough

I was thinking the extra ingredients would require me to add more water than the 1 1/4 cup I used last time, but I think because the apple and cranberry both carry some moisture (the nuts do, too), it actually requires LESS. I threw in the whole 1 1/2 cup of warm water, and it was way too much. I had to add in almost a half cup of flour, plus maybe 1/2 tsp of vegetable oil to get things back to a relatively-ok consistency.

My issues with the dough this time around reminded me that if you don’t know what good bagel dough is SUPPOSED to look like, getting it right can be a little tricky if you’re used to making other breadlike things that tend to be spongier. My instinct is always to make the bagel dough too wet. RESIST.

It is too wet if it’s sticking to your hands, and way too wet if it’s wanting to STAY stuck to your hands or develop a buildup on them, and makes noisy sucking sounds when you pull your knuckles out of it as you knead. It should barely be a little stick-ish, but should have a polite attitude about it: “you know I’d like to stick to your hands, but I’m too well-bred to do that, and because I’m such a good dough, you can knead me quickly and assertively, and I won’t even stick to your Pyrex bowl.”

Good bagel dough should be dense and stretchy:

…and definitely more dry than sticky, and barely a little shiny once it’s been kneaded fully:

* The photo at the top is of someone else’s cranberry-only homemade bagels, but they look pretty close to mine (mine were a little pinker because of the bit of spices and because the walnuts darkened the flour a bit). Mine got eaten up too fast for me to photograph.

** I peel it with a knife and eat the peel because it’s good for me, and because my landlord stopped letting us put greenwaste in his garden.

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