Monday, August 27, 2012

New York Bagels!

New York Bagels, located beside Cabeza de Einstein ( a statue of Einstein's head) in Panama City, offers up bagels to rival any found in the Big Apple. Only $0.75 each, bagels here are served along with bottomless cups of international roast coffees in an atmosphere like any college town hotspot. Yum! We plan to take 4 dozen bagels home for our freezer. We will, of course, get lots of stares at the airport as our luggage will reek of onions!

Like many places where we cruised about the Caribbean, Bocas del Toro doesn't have decent bagels to offer. Yes, there are expensive frozen imitations at the Gringo grocery store, not even worth the effort to carry them up our hill. So I've learned to make onion bagels, and while the ingredients are few, the labor is intensive. For years, my bagels have been totally ug-lee! While they tasted fine, they looked more like old wrinkled men, and I would not have considered offering them to guests. Now, in an old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, I've discovered the Magic Step.

A breadmaker takes some of the work and mess out of the process, but kneading by hand is always an option if electrical power is in short supply. For onion bagels, I add the following, in order:
  • 2Tbsp. yeast
  • 1 pkg. dry onion soup mix
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour (substitute 1 cup whole wheat if desired)
  • 1 1/2 cups not water *
* To get water the exactly perfect temperature, bring 1/2 cup water to boil in microwave or on stovetop, then add 1 cup cold water. (A beautiful Dutch cruising lady at anchor in CuraƧao, 2000, taught me this handy trick.)

Mix or knead all to make a firm dough then let rise in the breadmaker (or other warm place) until double in bulk, usually taking about an hour. Place dough on a bread pan sprayed with non-stick. Cut into 8 equal pieces and form pieces into slightly flattened balls. With 2 fingers, make a hole in the center of each ball. Stretch the hole evenly to about 2" in diameter.

Now the Magic Step: place bagels under the broiler for 2 minutes on each side. No longer, as they do not need to brown at this stage. Sounds weird and makes for an extra step, but oh, so worth the trouble.

Next, the bagels get a hot water bath. Put 2 Tbsp. sugar in about 3" of water in a large pot and bring to slow boil. Gently put 4 bagels in boiling water for 1 minute, turn them over, and boil another minute. Use a slotted spoon to remove bagels from water and place them on a wire rack to drain. Repeat with the other 4 bagels.

Beat an egg in a coffee cup and use a pastry brush to brush the tops and sides of bagels with egg. Re-spray baking pan and place glazed bagels so they don't touch. Bake bagels at your oven's highest temperature, 450-500 degrees, for 15-18 minutes or until browned on top. When done, place bagels on the wire rack to cool.

Voila! These bagels are pretty enough that we invite neighbors for a Lox and Bagel Breakfast on our front porch in the jungle! And of course, it is now also clear why I am so happy to take home 4 dozen bagels from Panama City for which the only labor required is hailing a taxi:)