I found out that I was lactose intolerant 3 years ago. It was a rough journey to figure that out, but now I feel a million times better – most of the time. It really matters what I eat, as even the littlest amount of dairy and any of its counterparts make me feel gross. I’ve made lactose free food for myself ever since. I’m always looking for that next awesome recipe – one that normal people would love, one that makes me super jealous when normal people get to eat them and I can’t, the one that I know I could alter and make edible for myself and then I wouldn’t have to be jealous any longer.
One of those items that I long to eat when everyone else is getting to enjoy them is bagels – particularly cheddar cheese bagels. A typical bagel recipe doesn’t call for dairy at all. But a cheese bagel – obviously that requires some adjustment. It’s a very simple switch luckily – no playing around with vegan margarines, lactose free milks or other dairy free items , no playing around with cooking techniques or baking times. The only switch required is that you use lactose free cheddar cheese, which you can buy at most local grocery stores. The cheese acts the same as normal cheese – and tastes the same too! It’s such a blessing to find lactose free cheese, because I really, really dislike soy products. I’d rather never have cheese again if soy cheese were my only option.
The recipe I settled on using comes from the blog Sophisticated Gourmet. He has wonderful photos to go with his recipe, which were really helpful when making this recipe myself. I didn’t use his rolling technique, though I might try it when I make this recipe again. I instead used the technique I saw on Glutton for Punishment – Bob Blumer was in a Montreal bagel-making competition, and had to roll a ton of bagels. It looked easier and more authentic.
When I made these bagels, I made a few different varieties – just to see what I could make work. My varieties included plain, sesame, chocolate chip and cheddar cheese. I made the dough and let it do its various rises. When I cut the dough into pieces to roll into bagels, this is where I started making variations. I rolled my dough balls in either chocolate chips or cheese (depending on which one I was making – those ingredients together might make a strange bagel…or an awesome one, depending which way you see it!). I tried to incorporate these toppings into the dough, and then went about rolling the dough into a bagel. I finished all of them off (after boiling) with an egg wash, then added either the sesame seeds or more cheese on top of the cheese variety.
The only problem I ran into while making these bagels was rolling them successfully enough that they didn’t pull apart when they were boiling. I imagine this will be a technique I need lots of practice at – what a terrible fate to have to make lots of bagels to practice getting the perfect one!
Really, Really Good, Lactose Free Cheddar Bagels
2 tsp of active dry yeast
1 ½ tbsp of white sugar
1 ¼ cups of warm water
3 ½ cups of bread flour or high gluten flour plus extra for kneading
1 ½ tsp of salt
Lots of grated cheddar cheese (sorry there is no amount – I just grated a bunch and tried to put in as much as the dough would hold, then more on top after)
Optional Toppings (if making other varieties of bagels):
Caraway seeds, coarse salt, minced fresh garlic, minced fresh onion, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, chocolate chips.
1. In ½ cup of the warm water (between 105 – 110 degrees), pour in the sugar and yeast. Do not stir. Let it sit for five minutes.
2. Add the flour and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with your dough hook attachment. Mix the flour and salt on a low setting for a few seconds. Pour in the yeast and sugar mixture. Mix on a low setting for another few seconds.
3. Pour half of the remaining warm water into mixer. Mix and stir in the rest of the water as needed. You want to result in a moist and firm dough after you have mixed it.
4. Set your stand mixer to setting 2 or 3 and let knead for 10 minutes. Try working in as much flour as possible to form a firm and stiff dough. Watch your dough carefully, as it sometimes likes to jump out of the mixer, or not attach to the dough hook. Be sure to lock your stand mixer, as it likes to go for a walk (possibly off your counter) if you forget!
5. Lightly brush a large bowl with oil and turn the dough to coat. Cover the bowl with a damp dish towel. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in size. Punch the dough down, and let it rest for another 10 minutes.
6. Carefully divide the dough into 8 pieces. You could divide the dough into more pieces for smaller bagels, or fewer pieces for larger bagels. I ended up making 10 smaller bagels. Shape each piece of dough into a ball. Repeat with 7 other dough rounds.
7. Take each of the dough balls and using two hands, roll it into a little snake on the counter. When the snake is longer than the width of your two hands, wrap it around your dominant rolling hand. The dough rope should be wrapped so the overlapping ends are together at your palm, near the start of your fingers. Now take the two overlapping ends, and use your palm to squish/roll these two ends together. Once the dough is fused, you should have a circular bagel. This step is tricky – don’t be discouraged! Your bagels may even fall apart from this point on. A really good seal between the fused bagel ends is important to having your bagels stay together. I found this video called New York Bagels on You Tube that shows the rolling technique – it begins around 3:55.
**This is also where I started rolling the cheese into the dough.
8. After shaping the dough rounds and placing them on the cookie sheet, cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes. While letting your newly rolled bagels rest, preheat your oven to 425ºF.
9. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Reduce the heat. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to lower the bagels into the water. Boil a few at a time, but not all – you don’t want them to crowd the pot. Once the bagels are in, wait for them to float to the top (a couple of seconds). Let them sit there for 1 minute, and them flip them over to boil for another minute.
10. If you want to top your bagels with stuff, do so as you take them out of the water, you may use the “optional toppings” to top the bagels, but before hand, you will need to use an egg wash to get the toppings to stick before putting the bagels into the oven.
11. Once all the bagels have boiled and topped, transfer them to a lightly oiled baking sheet.
12. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown.
13. Cool on a wire rack.
(Adapted from New York-Style Bagel recipe by Sophisticated Gourmet at http://www.sophisticatedgourmet.com/2009/10/new-york-style-bagel-recipe)