Skip this if you are bored with my cooking. I had to entertain my other mother-in-law today (I am blessed with two, yay) and I had to serve something. How about bagels!
This took me a few tries to figure out, but after consulting a bunch of different bagel recipes I think I have nailed it.
Bread 101: for every cup of water, you need 1 tablespoon yeast and one tablespoon gluten flour. Keep that in mind for changing the quantities. This recipe makes 6.
First, I put one cup of warm water in a bowl and add a few squirts of honey. The more the better, but I'll bet there is a law of diminishing returns after a tablespoon or so. Stir in yeast and let it sit for 8-10 minutes. It should get really foamy.
Start adding in flour and put in the tablespoon gluten. No set amount of flour, but stir it in a 1/3 cup at a time until it becomes obvious you need to pick it up and knead it. I use half white flour and half whole wheat. If I make it all whole wheat it feels like I'm eating wood.
Knead for 10 minutes and set aside while you wash the original bowl and pour a little olive oil in it. Put the dough in the bowl and roll it around until it's covered in oil. Cover the bowl with a towel and put in the cold oven. If you have a drawer-warming feature, turn it on and the bread will rise easier. Go live your life for an hour (or two).
Come back and punch the dough down. Use a knife (important, do not rip the dough. You have to slice it with a knife so you don't ruin the gluten strands you have worked to hard to form). Divide it into six pieces, gently form them each into a ball and poke a hole in the middle. Your bagels should look like giant, soggy Cheerios - make the holes pretty big because they will shrink!
Sprinkle corn meal on a cookie sheet (greasing a cookie sheet will fry the bottoms of your bagels, so don't do that). Set all six of them on the sheet and put it back in the cold oven to rise for another 30 minutes.
FUN STEP! Boil water, add a sprinkle of sugar, preheat over to 375. Boil the dough bagels for 30 seconds each. Some recipes say longer, but the longer you boil, the denser the bagel. If you like them dense, use more whole wheat and at least make it healthier. (Here
is a good explanation of the boiling process.)
Put the bagels back on the cookie sheet and bake for 22 minutes. Trust me, I have worked this recipe every which way and the gluten flour, the warming drawer while rising, the second rise, the 30 second boiling and the 22 minutes are fruits of my science.
Last step, serve to your mother-in-law with a plate of Girl Scout Cookies in your pajamas. Done!