Honey Walnut Bagels
What does it mean to Be a baker?
The formal definition says “a person who makes bread and cakes,” but we believe it goes way beyond that. A baker is someone that cares. A loving human that puts others before themselves, someone who sacrifices hours of sleep and time with their family to have freshly made loaves of bread ready for you first thing in the morning. A good baker will bring back forgotten traditions, rescue heritage grains, load each loaf with nutritious grains, and share the love from their hands to the dough.
Bakers like Tabitha and Dave from La Noisette put much love and energy into every single loaf, scone, muffin, cookie or croissant they make. That translates into positive vibrations, comfort and enhanced flavour. When machines cook, hundreds of years of traditions are lost, and that is why we need to support small bakeries that are trying to preserve elders recipes and doing things “the old-school, traditional French way.”
SEXY NERDY TALK: BAGELS
Even though their real origin remains somewhat unknown, some theories place them in Poland in the 1600s. They were widely consumed by the Ashkenazi Jewish communities, and some say they morphed from the traditional German pretzel’s shape after the migrations during the 14th century. Another similar version in between the bagel and the pretzels were the obwarzanek, which were one of the Krakow’s staple street foods and consisted of a spiral-ring-shape bread with a crunchy exterior and soft interior, topped with salt, poppy seeds or sesame. It was the Eastern European immigrants of the late 19th century that brought the bagels as we know them today to North America, becoming mainstream around 1970.
Traditional bagels are shaped by hand into the form of a ring, they are first boiled in water and then baked. The result is a dense bread with a chewy interior and browned, crisp exterior. The basic roll-with-a-hole design has been used for centuries and was ingeniously created to allow easier handling and transportation for the street vendors. The shape also provides even cooking when baking.
Some of the most popular varieties include:
*The Montreal-style bagel: it contains malt and sugar with no salt, and is boiled in honey-sweetened water before baking in a wood-fired oven. They tend to be smaller, sweeter and with a larger hole in the middle.
*The New York bagel: it contains salt and malt and is boiled in plain water before baking in a standard oven, resulting in a puffy bread with a moist crust.
*The East-coast style bagel: it is not as salty or sweet as their counterparts, and is also less dense and chewy. It contains a different combination of yeasts and is often made with sourdough.
*The Chicago-style bagels: they are mostly baked with steam.
*The traditional London bagel: it has a harder and coarser texture on the outside with more air pockets on the inside.
As you can see, bagels are not just water and flour, there are endless combinations and possibilities around them even before diving into fillings and spreads. Some more modern bakeries also include nuts or fruits to the dough, adding diversity of textures and flavour. We decided to share La Noisette’s honey walnut bagels recipe featured in the Forest City Cookbook so you can have fun creating your own crunchy and chewy bagels. If you’re feeling a little extra creative, you can also up your game by experimenting with different flavours and adding your personal twist.
Honey Walnut Bagels
by Dave Coulter from La Noisette Bakery
PAGE 279 • HONEY • SNACK • INTERMEDIATE
PREP: 1 hour 45 minutes • REFRIGERATE: 4-12 hours • COOK: 30 minutes
TOASTED HONEY WALNUTS
180 g cup walnuts
50 g honey
Preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine walnuts and honey. Evenly distribute on the baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes until the walnuts are quite dark. Allow to cool to room temperature.
610 ml water, room temperature
60 g honey
10 g instant yeast
1 kg flour
26 g sea salt
In a small bowl, combine water, honey and instant yeast. Stir and set aside in a warm place for 5-10 minutes until the yeast is active and creates a foamy layer on the surface.
In a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, combine flour and salt. Add the yeast mixture and knead at low speed for 15 minutes. With 5 minutes left of kneading, add the toasted honey walnuts. The dough should be slightly sticky but firm to the touch. Add an additional 1-2 tbsp of flour if the dough is too sticky. Transfer the dough to a large bowl coated with oil. Cover the bowl with a towel and place in a warm area for 1 hour, until the dough doubles in size.
CHEF NOTE: Placing your dough on top of or nearby the stove will accelerate the process. Depending on the season, it may take longer to rise at room temperature.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly flour your hands and remove the dough from the bowl. Divide into 15 equal pieces and form each piece into a ball. Gently push your thumb through the centre of each ball to form a ring, stretch to 1/3 of the desired size of bagel, approximately 3-4 inch wide. Place on the baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
CHEF NOTE: For more accuracy, I weigh the dough, divide the weight by 15 and cut into evenly weighted chunks.
1 L water
60 g honey
Preheat the oven to 400F, preferably convection if available. In a large pot, bring water and salt to a boil. Add bagels in batches and boil for 45 seconds each side. Do not overcrowd the pot. Remove the bagels and place back on the baking sheet.
CHEF NOTE: Lightly coat the baking sheet with cornmeal to prevent the bagels from sticking to the parchment paper.
Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown, rotating the baking sheet halfway. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool – or eat them hot right out of the oven!