I’m in love. It’s not a phase. This is the real thing.
The potato bagel and I go way back. When I used to live in Pittsburgh, about the only food experience I could afford was the potato bagel. I was living in Squirrel Hill very close to an Einstein Brothers and it was too tempting to pass by without going in for one. I’ve been dreaming about them ever since. Simply, no other bagel compares.
Taking what I’ve learned from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice and this recipe, I think I’ve found a way to replicate that nostalgic potato bagel at home.
For plain bagels, see this previously posted recipe.
Makes 2 dozen bagels (easily halved, if you want only one dozen)
Make the potatoes:
Peel and rinse about 6 potatoes (enough to result in 1 1/3 c. mashed potatoes).
In a medium saucepan, cover the potatoes with about 6 cups of water.
Simmer for a half hour.
With a slotted spoon, remove potatoes to a bowl. Reserve potato water.
Mash the potatoes, adding in a little potato water, to create a smooth consistency. Set aside for the dough step.
Mix together the sponge:
1/2 tsp. instant yeast
6 cups bread flour
4 cups warm potato water
Mix the yeast into the flour and then gradually mix in the water. Your mixture should be very sticky (like pancake batter.) Cover with plastic wrap and a dry towel. Ferment the sponge at room temperature for about 2 hours.
Prepare the dough:
2 tbls. honey
1 tbls. malt syrup
6 tbls. olive oil
1 1/3 mashed potatoes, room temperature
5 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. yeast
about 8 cups bread flour
With an electric mixer and dough hook, add the liquid ingredients (honey, malt, oil) to the sponge. Add mashed potatoes, salt, and yeast. Add the flour 2 cups at a time. Continue to knead for about ten minutes until you’ve got an elastic, satiny ball. (The resulting dough will be somewhat wetter than a plain bagel dough.)
Divide the dough into 4 1/2 ounce pieces and roll into smooth balls. Roll each ball in a light coating of flour. Cover the balls with a damp towel and let them rest for 30 minutes.
Line 3 sheet pans with parchment and mist lightly with olive oil.
After the dough has rested, shape by poking a hole in the center of the ball with your thumb and gently stretching out into a bagel that is even on all sides. Make the holes slightly bigger than you think they should be.
Place the bagel on the pan, mist with oil and cover with plastic wrap. Let the pans sit for 20 minutes. Now, it’s time for the float test! Slip one bagel out from under the plastic wrap and test to see if it will float within 10 seconds in a bowl of water. Pat it dry, return to pan, and place your bagels in the fridge overnight. (If your bagel does not pass the float test, do not despair, just wait a little bit longer and try again.)
Boil and bake:
Fill a stock pot with water and bring to a boil. Preheat the oven to 500F. Add 1 tbls. baking soda to the boiling water. Stir.
Take your bagels from fridge and drop, in batches of four, into the boiling water. Cook for one and a half minutes per side – flip your bagels over with a skimmer, slotted spoon, or tongs. While your bagels boil, sprinkle your parchment with semolina flour or cornmeal. Place boiled bagels on the prepared sheet.
Dust the tops with flour and slash three times. (This looks appealing and lets some of the moisture out as it cooks.)
Bake at 500F for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to 450F and bake for another 5 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove to racks to cool.
- Any potato will do, but I’d recommend a drier, brown potato (Russet). This will give a stronger potato flavor.
- I tried the beautiful star bagels shown in this recipe, but it was a disaster. They were hard to get off the parchment, fell apart in the water, and came out of the oven unevenly cooked and gooey. What a shame.
- Try a potato bagel with herbs. Yum!