Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Jalapeño and Cheddar Bagels #BreadBakers

Spicy fresh jalapeños give these bagels just a little hit of heat, while the sharp cheddar cheese adds both a boost of flavor and extra chewiness most welcome in a bagel. 

Growing up in Houston, Texas, you’d think I wouldn’t know what a New York bagel was. After all, the bagel craze, and the proliferation of chain bakeries selling them, didn’t really gain momentum until I was married and living overseas. But I did. They came from one bakery. It is a family-run business and located in what was a predominately Jewish neighborhood, not far from my elementary school. Nearby is the Jewish Community Center with a great gymnastics program that attracts students from all over the greater Houston area, and just across the bayou, a synagogue. All I know is that, back in those days, before Einstein’s and other chains, and before every supermarket decided to jump on the bagel bandwagon, there were New York Bagels. And they were crispy-outside chewy-inside perfection. The line was out the door every weekend as folks lined up patiently to get their bagels. And I am delighted to say, it still is.

When my regular supply of New York Bagels was cut off, that is, when I moved away from home and was feeling particularly homesick, I had to resort to baking them myself. Steaming up windows of my kitchens in Paris, Balikpapan, Kuala Lumpur, Macaé, to first quickly boil and bake these lovelies, mine never did match the originals but they were still a chewy, yeasty, welcome mouthful of home. When this month’s Bread Bakers host, Heather from Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks suggested bagels as the theme for February, I was all in!

My favorite bagel is a toss-up between cinnamon and raisin or jalapeño and cheese. What’s your favorite?

Ingredients for 12 bagels
7 oz or 200g extra sharp cheddar cheese
2 small fresh jalapeños – about 25g or just under 1 oz in weight, stems and all
1 cup or 240ml warm water
1 packet active rapid rise dry yeast (1/4 oz or 7g)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 cups or 150g wholemeal bread flour
1 1/3 cups or 170g bread flour
1/2 cup or 65g flour, if necessary
1/2 teaspoon salt
Olive oil for oiling bowl

For the water bath: 1 tablespoon sugar

Optional for baking:
1 3/4 oz or 50g extra sharp cheddar, grated

Method
Cut off the stems and mince your jalapeños and cut the cheese for inside the bagels into little cubes. Set aside a tablespoon or so of the minced jalapeños for adding to the top of the bagels before baking.



Add all the bread flour to the bowl of your stand mixer. (You can do this by hand but get ready for some hard labor.) Make a well and add in the yeast and the tablespoon of sugar.

Pour your warm water into the well and wait about 10 minutes.

If the water has gone all bubbly, that means your yeast is active and you may continue. If not, buy some new yeast and start over.

Give the whole thing a good stir then add in your cubed cheddar, the bigger pile of the minced jalapeños and the salt. Stir well.



Using your dough hook, start mixing in the wholemeal bread flour a little at a time. Keep going until all of the wholemeal is incorporated.



If it’s still too sticky, start adding normal flour until the dough is firm and kneadable. I ended up adding 1/2 cup or 65g. You may need less.

Knead for several minutes.

Go, Kenwood, go!


Remove the dough from your bowl and form it into a ball. Drizzle a little olive oil into your bowl. Put the dough back in and turn it around to coat with the oil. Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave the dough to rise for about 45 minutes or until doubled in size.



Punch the dough down and cut it into 12 equal pieces.

First into four, then the each fourth into three. Easy!
I like to use my kitchen scale to even them out but if you aren't anal, you can skip that step. Each of my dough balls weighed between 65 and 70g. Cover the balls with some cling film and let them rest for 15 minutes.


Make holes in the center of each ball by sticking your thumb through and gently easing the hole open with thumb and fingers.

Cover once again with cling film and leave the the dough to rise again for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare your baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper or a silicone mat and put it at the ready, next to your stove, with a clean folded kitchen towel nearby. I ended up needing two baking pans because I didn’t want the bagels too close together in case they rose more while baking.

When your second rising time is almost up, preheat your oven to 400°F or 200°C and put a large pot of water (about 2 quarts or just shy of 2 liters) on to boil. Add one tablespoon of sugar to the water.

Here they are after the second rise.



Turn the pot down to a low boil and add the bagels a few at a time. Boil for just a minute or two on each side.

Remove each one with a slotted spoon and rest the spoon gently on the clean towel to absorb the excess water, then transfer the bagel to your prepared baking pan or pans.



Sprinkle the bagels with the grated cheese and the small pile of minced jalapeño. I must admit that I was disappointed that my jalapeño pieces didn’t stay green and decorative but they did add some nice little crispy bits on top.



Bake for about 25 minutes or until the bagels are golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Despite their well-plumpedness when rising and boiling, mine fell a little bit while baking. I’ve never had that happen before so I’m going to put it down to the wholemeal bread flour, which was a new experiment in bagel baking for me. They are not rounded pictures of perfection but they were delicious.

My favorite part was actually the bottom of the bagels, which turned out beautifully golden and cheesy and crunchy.



Many thanks to Heather at Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks for hosting this month’s Bread Bakers and for giving me a chance to reminisce about a childhood favorite.

Check out all the fabulous bagels we have for you!


#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send me an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.


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