Gluten Free bagels that are naturally corn-free, dairy/casein-free, soy-free and can easily be made egg-free!
This is one of those things that most people probably don’t think they will ever have to make in their lives, and why would you? Bagels are are very easy to obtain. Well, unless you are gluten-free or suffer from food allergies.
Joan’s Great Bakes makes a really good gluten-free bagel, but they are expensive because of shipping costs (if you live in the mountain time zone like I do, shipping is about $45). A local Albuquerque store used to carry them but they were $14.99 for a 5-pack of bagels. That can be a hard price to swallow, regardless of your financial situation. We would buy them as a special treat but they were never a staple simply because of the price.
A few weeks ago, Sam’s Friday Fun Snack at school was making “Bear Bagels.” The kiddos were using 2 bagels of different sizes, a large bagel and a mini bagel, to assemble a bear face. I got the recipe with only a 3 day notice, so I did not have time to order any more bagels from Joan’s Great Bakes without paying an overnight shipping charge, and even I have to draw the line somewhere! So, I had 2 whole days to figure out how to make homemade GF bagels and GF “Nilla” wafers!
Here is the recipe for Bear Bagels (in case you are interested):
I lucked out and happened to have one Joan’s Great Bakes bagel left in my freezer (from who knows when), but I was desperate, so I used it anyway! I don’t know if you have ever had one, but they are not all that big. They fall somewhere between a gluten-containing “mini” bagel and a gluten-containing “regular” bagel (but no where near the size of a gluten-containing “large” bagel). Which is totally fine by me, because I am very big on “true” portion sizes in our house. It only poses a problem when making said “Bear Bagels!” I thought about using a cookie cutter to cut out a smaller sized bagel from one of the halves, but that was clearly not going to work. I tried making a batch of bagels from a recipe I found online, but they tasted horrible and looked even worse, so they promptly went into the trash. I did learn one thing from that experiment though, how to shape a bagel the easy way (I’ll show you that in a minute)!
After my first batch of homemade bagels were a bust, I realized I had to admit defeat and figure something else out to replace the mini bagel, I just didn’t have enough time. You have no idea how difficult giving up was for me (even if it was only temporary). Right or wrong, I still feel very guilty for having passed on the celiac gene to my son. Because of this, I am admittedly OCD about making Sam’s “public” GF foods look the same as his friends, although I have never actually hit the mark for one reason or another!
Anyway, I had made some Better Batter biscuits for dinner that evening and had a few left over, so I went with a mini biscuit “bagel” instead for Sam to use as the bear nose. Needing to make the biscuit smaller than the Joan’s Great Bakes Bagel, meant I also had to cut down the GF “Nilla” Wafers I had made. Here is the bear we ultimately ended up with:
It worked, but had much room for improvement!
I have since been researching different homemade bagel recipes to try and I made a second attempt yesterday using this recipe from the Baking Bites website (with gluten-free substitutions of course). Baking Bites is a great website, and once one feels comfortable making gluten-free substitutions, an entire world of possibilities opens up! Check out Nicole’s recipe for homemade Girl Scout Samoas (always and forever Caramel Delites in my book ). I cannot wait to experiment with that recipe!
Homemade Chewy Bagels (gluten-free, dairy/casein-free, egg-free, corn-free, soy-free, nut-free)
(Nicole Weston’s original recipe is in black, my additions/changes are in the parentheses).
1 Tbs. Active Dried Yeast (I used Red Star Yeast which is gluten-free)
1 Tbs. Sugar (or use 1 Tbs. Agave Nectar)
1 3/4 cup Warm Water (110° – 115° F. is the optimal temperature to activate the yeast, according to the Red Star website. Although, I have also read that 100° – 110° F. is the optimal range, so I guess anywhere from 100° – 115° F. is the area to shoot for. If the water is too hot, you will kill the yeast. I like to use a thermometer to make sure the water is “in the proper zone”).
4 cups Bread Flour (for this recipe I just used Better Batter Gluten Free Flour. I am trying to figure out a good gluten-free substitute for bread flour to see if that changes the outcome of the final product, I will keep you posted).
1 Tbs. Salt
1 Egg for Egg Wash (For Egg-Free: just brush tops with your favorite dairy-free milk)
- First, you want to “proof” your yeast. I ALWAYS proof my yeast (to make sure the yeast is “active”) in my gluten-free baked goods, because not only do I want to save time and frustration from a potential flop, but gluten-free ingredients are too expensive to risk throwing it all away because of something as inexpensive as yeast! So:
- In a bowl, add the yeast, sugar and warm water (100° – 115° F). Stir to incorporate the ingredients, then set the yeast aside to do it’s work, about 10 minutes. (Click here for more information on the different types of yeast and the best way to use them for optimal results. If you are interested, see below for a video I found on YouTube on “How to proof yeast”).
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl (I used the bowl of my stand mixer) add the flour and salt.
- Once the yeast has “proofed,” add it to the flour/salt mixture.
- Mix dough thoroughly until it comes together in a large ball, pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Add an additional tablespoon of flour or water, if needed. If kneading by hand, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until very smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If using a stand mixer, knead dough with the dough hook until elastic, about 8 minutes on a low speed (this is what I did). Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size. (Make sure you put the dough in a warm place. click here for some rising tips from baking911.com, I reference this website all the time, because I have zero formal training in baking! I highly recommend bookmarking it for future use).
- Bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil (I used a roasting pan over two burners), and preheat the oven to 400° F.
- When dough has risen, turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces (first quarters, then thirds). Shape each piece into a tight ball as illustrated below (click here to see Nicole’s illustrations), pinching the corners together at the bottom of the piece of dough (I didn’t really do this step as written, I just rolled out a ball). When all the balls are shaped, let the dough rest for 30 minutes covered with a clean dish towel.
- Once dough balls have rested, the bagel shape can be formed. Using your fingers, poke a hole through the center of each dough ball (I cheated and used my apple corer to make the hole). Stretch out the dough into a ring with your fingers and be sure to make the hole a little larger than you want the finished bagel to have, as it will shrink slightly while the bagel is expanding during the baking process. Let bagels rest for about 10 minutes.
- Working four at a time (I put all of mine in at the same time since I was using a pan with a large surface area), drop the bagels carefully into the boiling water. Boil for 2 minutes on the first side, then flip and boil for an additional minute (I used chop sticks for this). Using a slotted spoon or strainer, transfer bagels to a clean towel to drain for a moment, then place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat process with remaining bagels.
- Brush boiled bagels with lightly beaten egg (or brush tops with dairy-free milk) and bake for 20-24 minutes, until golden brown.
- Cool completely on a wire rack.
YouTube video on “proofing” yeast:
The temperature of my water was 113° F. :
My “proofed” yeast:
I mixed all the ingredients using my dough hook attachment, on low for 8 minutes.
This is what the dough looked like after rising for 1 hour. It does not look exactly like a risen gluten-dough.
Instead of using the method in the Baking Bites recipe, I just rolled the dough pieces around on the counter (to make it smooth).
Final bagel dough ball.
Using my apple corer to make the hole in the bagel.
My apple corer has a plunger on it which made extracting the dough uber simple.
I then stretched the hole out a little bit.
Tip: Keep your bagels covered with a damp cloth while you are shaping your bagels, so the dough is less likely to dry out and crack.
Pre-boiled bagels of various sizes (this is what is so cool about making your own bagels).
Some of my bagels were lumpy and bumpy, so using warm water, I tried to smooth them out before adding them to the boiling water.
Boiling water in a roasting pan over 2 stove top burners.
Boiling the bagels.
I used chop sticks to flip the bagels.
Even after smoothing them out, some of the bagels looked like this. I wonder what causes this?
One bagel that stayed relatively smooth.
Remove the bagels and let drain on a towel for a minute.
Brush with egg wash.
Fresh from the oven, GF bagels: Crunchy on the outside with a chewy inside, just like “real” bagels! Without cream cheese, there is a slight “sourdough” taste to these.
This is one of the bagels the day after I made them.
I stored them unsliced, in an airtight container. They did need to be softened up a bit, so before slicing, I nuked them in the microwave for 20 seconds and it was as if they were fresh!
We even made some Gluten-Free “Bagel Bites,” yummy!
Mike and I tried to cost these out, using the Better Batter Gluten-Free Flour. After shipping, a 25-lb. bag of Better Batter is $86.00. There is roughly 3 cups in 1-lb. of Better Better, so a 25-lb bag is roughly 75 cups of flour. That comes to roughly $1.15/cup. This recipe uses 4 cups of flour, so that’s about $4.60. The other ingredients are too inexpensive to worry about, but for argument’s sake, let’s round it up to $5.00.
$5.00 for 10 homemade GF bagels versus roughly $30.00 for 10 store-bought GF bagels.
Now that my friends, is some food for thought!
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