This weekend, I made the first of my commissioned breads: Black Russian Bagels for Jess Lewis.
- 2oz King Arthur Flour Pumpernickel Artisan Bread Flavor
- 1lb Unbleached Bread Flour
- 10oz lukewarm water
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 2 quarts water
- 1 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon molasses
First up: gather ingredients for the dough. This dough calls for standard stuff, flour, salt, yeast, and brown sugar. It also needs special Pumpernickel Artisan Bread Flavor that I ordered from King Arthur Flour (whom I’m totally not sponsored by. Unless they want to…). I’m willing to go the extra mile to bake you bread. I will go on the internet and order special ingredients. Because I care.
Combine the dough ingredients and mix into a shaggy, stiff dough. After 15 minutes of
vigorous kneading magic, the dough will become smooth, shiny, and still really stiff. This dough could probably take me in a fight.
Oil your muscular dough and place it in a bowl with a clean, dry towel over it to rise. After 60-90 minutes (or 45, if you’re doing it on a 90-degree day in June, like me), when the dough is doubled in size, it’s ready for the next step. Note the dent in the risen dough, where I did the finger-dent test. Poke the dough, and see how much it springs back.It should bounce back healthily but still leave an obvious dent. If it springs back completely, the dough needs to rise more. If it doesn’t spring back at all, the dough is overproofed.
Divide the dough into 8 (roughly) equal pieces and roll them into smooth little balls. Cover them again and let them rest for about 30 minutes. Less if it’s 90 degrees.
MEANWHILE, preheat the oven to 425° and assemble the boil broth. Dump all the ingredients into a high-sided pan and mix well, then bring to a light boil. After the dough is done resting, shape into bagels. The easiest way to do that is to pick up a ball, poke your thumbs through and stretch the whole thing into a ring. After they’re shaped, place them into the boil broth no more than four at a time (don’t want to crowd the pan). Place the side that was facing up when it was on the counter face down into the water. Boil for two minutes, per side. When they’re done boiling, put them onto oil-sprayed parchment- or silpat-lined baking sheet.
Whisk the egg white and water thoroughly, then brush it onto the surface of the bagels. Throw on however much topping you want, and press gently to get it to stick well. Then toss them in the oven for 25 minutes or so.
It’s harder to judge when they’re done than most bread, since you can’t really rely on color. Keep an eye on them and pull them out when they feel done. Use your bread senses.
Let them cool on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes, then GO TO TOWN.
Full disclosure: I ate two of these and delivered six to Jess (it’s okay, she only asked for six). One I ate as avocado toast (because I’m a millennial) and one straight up. Both were delicious.
It’s important to note that pumpernickel breads tend to be denser and lower in sugar, which means the Maillard reaction that gives the brown crackly crust in other breads may be less present here. They’ll still have a nice crispy exterior, though.
It’s also important to note that if you drop a hot baking sheet, you should under no circumstances attempt to catch it with your bare hands like I did.
Anyway, I hope your Black Russian Bagels turn out excellently. Thank you to Jess for requesting them and, in doing so, giving me the idea for this whole website. See you next week!
Short Steps List:
- Mix dough
- Knead 10 minutes with dough hook or 15 minutes by hand
- Oil, cover, rise for 60-90 minutes until doubled
- Divide into 8 pieces, cover, rest for 30 minutes
- Preheat oven, combine boil broth ingredients and bring to a boil
- Boil bagels, 2 minutes per side
- Egg wash, topping
- Bake 25 minutes
- Rest 5-10 minutes, go to town.