Who doesn't enjoy bagels? I guess there's gotta be someone out there... but no one I know, that's for sure! There's sweet bagels.. (cinnamon raisin, blueberry, chocolate chip)... there's savory bagels... (onion, garlic, rye)... there's bagels & cream cheese... there's bagel-bites... there's even bagel-dogs. While I know a lot about bagel-eatin, I didn't know much about bagel-makin until I enlisted help from the fab folks at the King Arthur Flour Company...

The King Arthur Flour Company has one of the best instructional websites around. At least in my opinion. I can't count how many times I have turned to them to learn new techniques. And their blog is one that I read regularly. Not just recipes... heck, anyone can post a recipe and leave it at that... but these folks give you a step-by-step tutorial in words and pictures. Now THAT'S what I'm talkin about! When I'm trying something completely new I like the step-by-step pics so I have a clue if I'm on the right track.

Case in point... the first time I attempted to make the bagels I didn't know there was a difference between Active Dry Yeast and Instant Yeast. Okay, yeah, I know, the *name* is different but color me clueless because I thought yeast was yeast. HA! Now I know better. I made the starter at night and in the morning expected it to have thinned out and gotten bubbly. Well, it didn't. It was like a super-mini rising bread. But even after looking at the pics of how it was *supposed* to look (and I shoulda stopped right there knowing mine didn't resemble their pic AT ALL) I valiantly marched on-ward. Uhm... big mistake. 4 cups of flour + other ingredients and a one hour rising-period later, my dough did not rise. Nope, no way, no how, uhn uhnnn... it wasn't goin anywhere. But... not to be deterred in my enthusiasm... I left it alone for another three-and-a-half hours thinking it was maybe just a slower-riser. HAHAHAHA Yeah, right. Good one, huh? On more than one occasion I dejectedly walked it toward the bin but decided to give it "just a little more time". When I'd had enough and decided it WAS getting binned, DJ convinced me to just try baking it to see what would happen. He loves bread, btw ;-) To make him happy I kneaded in some garlic powder and italian seasoning... then pressed some sesame seeds into the top and tossed it in the oven on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Lo-and-behold if that thing didn't bake up into one delicious loaf of artisan-looking bread which I promptly named "Ooops Bread" hahahaha

As good as the Oops Bread turned out, I still wanted to, yanno, make **bagels** :) I went to the store and purchased Rapid Rise yeast (closest thing I could find to "instant" yeast)... then one morning before work got the "starter" going. Hey, I figure bagel-makin can't look at the clock and tell time and if it needs an overnight resting period, that's no different to starting it before I leave for work and then come home 10 hours later to finish it off. The starter still didn't look like it did in the King Arthur pictures... but it was closer to that - much much closer. After all of the requisite needing and proofing periods... then rolling into balls... then putting in the holes and shaping like bagels... then boiling in a mixture of water and brown sugar (cuz, yanno, I just don't *have* non-diastatic malt in the cupboard! LOL)... and then baking... I HAD BAGELS :) :) :)

Okay so they don't look like professional bakery-style bagels, but for a first attempt I'm pretty darn proud of em! LOL. The idea of making a dozen plain bagels didn't rock my world so I made 2 of each of the following variations... Cinnamon Raisin, Sesame, Garlic, Sesame Garlic, Onion Garlic and Cheese-&-Pepperoni. And ya know what? They're pretty darn tasty... each and every different kind. DJ loves sesame bagels (heck, sesame ANYTHING) and he said the sesame and sesame garlic bagels are as good as the bakery makes. HA! I don't think they're THAT good but it was super sweet of him to say it, huh? What a guy... gotta love him :)

Here is the step-by-step how to for making bagels. I learned a lot in this process and I can't wait to make bagels again. Hopefully it inspires you to try making bagels too. It's really not that hard... and they're really very good :)

Have a delicious day!