Pumpkin Bagels

At this time of year, there generally is a plentiful supply of pumpkins and you’ll find it used in many recipes–from soup to lattes. I’ve made bagels every few weeks for a couple of years now and decided to make a stab at some pumpkin ones. I took my tried and true recipe from Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice and made some pretty significant modifications to accommodate the pumpkin. This may not be a recipe to try unless you do a fair amount of baking.

Sponge:
½ teaspoon                            instant yeast
9 ounces                                  unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
7 ounces                                  water at room temperature

Dough:
1/2 teaspoon                         yeast
9-10 ounces                            unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
1 ½ teaspoons                        kosher salt
1 cup                                         pure, canned pumpkin (no additives)
1 1/2 tablespoons                   sugar
1 teaspoon                                pumpkin pie spice

To Finish:
1 tablespoon                           baking soda
1 whole                                   egg white, mixed with a little water to emulsify
Cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting the pan

Instructions: Day 1

1. To make the sponge, stir the yeast into the flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the water,  stirring until it forms a smooth, sticky batter. (The regular bagel recipe calls for 10 ounces of water, but because the pumpkin has a significant amount of liquid, I started with 7 ounces). Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature for two hours or more. It should swell to nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop.

2. To make the dough, in the same mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer), add the additional yeast into the sponge and stir. Add the flour, sugar, salt, pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice into the bowl and mix until all the ingredients form a ball. Because you want a fairly stiff dough, you should check it often (see Windowpane Test below) and continue to add a little flour until you get the right consistency. The original recipe calls for 8.5 ounces of flour, but I probably ended up with 10-11 ounces, added a teaspoon at a time.

4. The Windowpane Test: At this point, your dough needs to pass the windowpane test, which is a reliable method to decide when gluten development is sufficient (also called membrane test). The test is performed by cutting off a small piece of dough from the larger batch and gently stretching, pulling, and turning it to see if it will hold a paper-thin, translucent membrane. If the dough falls apart before it makes this windowpane, continue mixing for another minute or two and test it again. The finished dough should feel satiny and pliable but not be tacky. If it seems too dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading. If it seems tacky or sticky, add more flour to achieve the stiffness required.

5. Immediately after kneading, split the dough into 6 small pieces around 4 1/2 ounces each. Roll each piece into a ball and set it aside. When you have all 6 pieces made, cover them with a damp towel and let them rest for 20 minutes. Because I added quite a bit more flour to this recipe, I ended up with 8 bagels at 4 1/2 ounces each.

6. Shape the bagels–there are a couple of methods for shaping the bagels:
a.    Poke a hole in a ball of bagel dough, gently rotate your thumb around the inside of the hole to widen it to about two and a half inches in diameter. The dough should be as evenly stretched as possible.
b.    Roll out the dough into an 8-inch long rope. Wrap the dough around the palm and back of your hand, overlapping the ends by several inches. Press the overlapped ends to seal.Shaped dough

7. Place the shaped bagels on a lightly oiled sheet pan, with an inch or so of space between one another. If you have parchment paper, line the sheet pan with parchment and spray it lightly with oil. I also add a sprinkling of semolina before placing the bagels on the pan. Spray the bagels with a little oil and cover the pan with plastic and allow the dough to rise for about 20 minutes.

8. The suggested method of testing whether the bagels are ready to retard is by dropping one of them into a bowl of cool water. If the bagel floats back up to the surface in under ten seconds it is ready to retard. If not, it needs to rise more. If it floats, it means you passed this test, too! Place the bagels in the refrigerator (covered in plastic) and retard overnight. If the bagel does not float, return it to the pan and continue to proof the dough at room temperature, checking back every 10 to 20 minutes until a tester floats.

I’ve found that this makes the dough a bit too wet, so I skip this step and  just wait 20 minutes or so and stick them in the fridge.

Day 2

1. The following day, preheat the oven to 500F with your rack set in the middle of oven.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add one tablespoon of baking soda to the pot to alkalize the water. (Most of the time, I forget this step and it doesn’t seem to make any difference to the result). When the pot is boiling, drop a few of the bagels into the pot one at a time and let them boil for two minutes (if you like your bagel extra chewy–one minute if not).

Boiling bagels

3. Use a large, slotted spoon or spatula to gently flip them over and boil them on the other side for another 2 minutes.

4. Before removing the bagels from the pot, sprinkle a little more cornmeal on the sheet pan. Remove them one at a time, set them back on the sheet pan, and spread a little of the egg white on the top of the bagel. You could be adventuresome and add some coarse grain sugar to the top at this point.

5. Repeat this process until all the bagels are boiled and topped.

6. Place the sheet pan into the preheated oven and bake for 13 minutes until the bagels begin to brown.

Remove the pan from the oven and put bagels on a rack to cool.


I always make a full batch of bagels at a time (double the recipe above). A tried and true version that I make out of the other half of dough is sesame bagels.

Note: the pictures embedded in the recipe are from the sesame ones. The pumpkin bagels have a rich golden color.

And how did they taste? Pretty darn good! The spice wasn’t over-bearing and the texture was good and chewy. (If you like more spice, you could add another 1/2 teaspoon to the dough when mixing.)

One response to “Pumpkin Bagels

  1. Pingback: Baking bagels... | Seven Topics

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