I began making bagels a few years ago when I finally discovered the wonders of bread machines. Ours goes by “Mr. Loaf,” and he creates the perfect environment for making bread doughs of all sorts. He’s all warm and free from drafts on the inside. I don’t have to worry about getting the right temperature for my water or dissolving the yeast. Plus, he handles all the hard work of kneading but then generously leaves all the glory to me. “You made bagels from scratch??!!”
Now that I have a Kitchenaid stand mixer though (thank you Santa!), it might be time for old Mr. Loaf to retire, or at least take some much kneaded (ha ha) time off. The stand mixer works wonders with dough as well, and I’ve invested in a kitchen thermometer and learned a thing or two about creating the right conditions for bread to rise. Namely, set the oven to preheat at 400 degrees for one minute, then turn it off. Place the dough in a bowl, cover the bowl with a lint-free cloth, and put the whole thing in the oven to rise. Perfecto. In other words, I don’t need Mr. Loaf the way that I once did. I’ve moved on.
Now, don’t feel sad for Mr. Loaf. He’s had a good run, and I think he’ll either keep a place in our home for those days when I want to set a timer and come home to freshly baked bread – the stand mixer will never do that – or he’ll be passed on to another happy home where he’ll make bread until his dough blade, which already goes, “clunk, clunk,” finally gives out and Mr. Loaf goes to live with all the other bread machines in the sky.
All of that said, if you’ve never made bread by hand, a bread machine is a great way to get started – and they’re more affordable than a high-end stand mixer. Most bread machines will have a dough setting that allows for quite a lot of diversity in terms of shapes and sizes of breads: rolls, pizza dough, braided loaves etc. As your skill increases and you become more comfortable with bread-making, you might consider trying the process entirely by hand – or investing in a stand mixer – for even more versatility.
Making vegetarian bagel dogs is really pretty simple. You just need a little patience, just like with any bread. And really, that is kind of the beautiful thing about homemade bread: a little work, a little waiting, a little more work. Doing things by hand gives you an appreciation for the finished product – a pride in what you’ve created that you might not experience otherwise.
I used Lightlife brand “Smart Dogs” in my bagel dogs. They have only 45 calories each, no fat, and 8 grams of protein. The finished bagel dogs are great: They are a nice mix of protein and carbs, and super-easy to pack in lunches for the rest of the week or freeze and reheat for quick snacks. This dough recipe creates an excellent bagel and makes enough dough for 8 bagel dogs AND 8 medium-sized bagels. Don’t be intimidated by the boiling; it’s also quite simple and it’s what gives bagels their trademark chewy outer crust.
2 cups water (110°-120˚ F)
2 packages, active dry yeast
3 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons table salt
5 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flower (approximately)
I package (8) Smart Dogs or other meat free hot dog
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 egg lightly beaten
(optional) Sesame seeds, poppy seeds and/or coarse salt, etc. for garnish
1. Warm the bowl of a stand mixer with warm water. Add 2 cups of water at 110˚-120˚ F and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow the yeast to dissolve for about 5 minutes. Add the sugar and salt. Attach the dough hook and turn the mixer to speed 2. Gradually add in the flour until a stiff dough forms. You want the dough to clean itself off the sides of the mixer bowl. Continue to knead the dough on speed 2 for about five minutes or until it is smooth and elastic in consistency.
2. Preheat the oven to 400˚ for one minute and then turn the oven off. Remove the dough from the mixer and form into a ball. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and turn dough over to grease the top. Cover the bowl with a lint free cloth and place the covered bowl in the oven. Allow to rise for about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size
3. Once the dough has risen, remove it from the oven and punch it down. Knead briefly to remove any air bubbles. Divide dough in half. On a lightly floured surface roll out one half of the dough until it is about ¼-½ inch thick: about a 12X6 inch rectangle, adding flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Using a knife slice the dough vertically into 8 equally sized strips. Starting at one end, roll one strip of dough diagonally around each veggie dog and pinch the seam together at the other end. Place the rolled bagel dogs, seam side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover with a lint free cloth and allow to rise for 30-45 minutes.
You may use the second half of the dough to make additional bagel dogs by repeating the above instructions, or make bagels by dividing the remaining dough into 8 equally sized pieces. Form each piece into a ball. Make a hole in the center of the dough ball and stretch it to about 1 ½ inches in diameter. Place bagels on a parchment lined baking sheet to rise for 30-45 minutes. Follow instructions for boiling and baking below.
4. Preheat the oven to 400˚. Fill a large pot with 4-6 inches of water. Add the baking soda to the water and bring to a boil. Add bagel dogs to boiling water one to two at a time and boil, turning occasionally for about 1 minute. Remove from water using a slotted spoon and drain well on a lint free cloth. Return boiled bagels to the parchment lined baking sheet. Brush tops of bagel dogs with egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and/or coarse salt, or toppings of your choice. Bake at 400˚ until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.