Chewy on the outside and soft on the inside, studded with little wild mountain huckleberries – these bagels will not be found in the bakery section of your local grocery store! Nope…you’ll have to work for these babies.
If you live near mountains where huckleberries can be found, put on your hiking boots and grab your bear spray, because trust me…they are worth every back breaking, ankle twisting, bear encountering, mosquito biting moment. They truly are!
If you don’t have access to them, frozen huckleberries can be purchased on the Internet. They aren’t cheap, but they’re so flavorful that just a few berries can really make a flavor statement in a recipe. Of course you can substitute blueberries instead, and still have a wonderfully delicious batch of bagels.
Bagel dough is very VERY easy to make, and the rest of the procedure is a lot of fun. This is a bit of a shortcut version, since I’m always too eager to get warm bagels to opt for the “rise overnight” method. I also was a little reluctant to go with the lye bath; nor did I think my readers would want to try that. But either I’m not much of a connoisseur or I’ve never tasted an authentic New York bagel, because these tasted plenty good to me!
To make bagels you take a simple yeast dough, let it rise, divide it into 8 pieces, (or 12 if you like sissy bagels) boil them, and bake them. Of course I had to complicate things a bit by adding huckleberries, especially since I didn’t have dried huckleberries which would have been a slam-dunk. I used frozen huckleberries and had to do some fancy footwork to keep them from turning the bagels purple. Here’s what I did:
I put a cup of frozen huckleberries in a bowl and microwaved them for 1 minute. After stirring, I microwaved them for 1 more minute. This softened them so they would release some of their juices. The berries went into a strainer over a small bowl until they were cool. The juice was set aside for making huckleberry butter to top the bagels, and the berries (strainer and all) were set in the freezer while the bagels were being made. When I was ready to use them, I took them from the freezer, broke them apart, and dredged them in a tablespoon of flour. They weren’t mixed into the dough, they were added at the very last, right when the bagels were being formed. Worked like a charm!
Not that I wouldn’t have wolfed down purple bagels, of course.
Cream cheese is lovely to top bagels with. Butter is tasty too. But best of all is huckleberry butter. I made my own butter for this, but you are welcome to use regular butter. To make it, add enough water to the reserved berry juice to make 1/4 cup of liquid. Put it in a small pan with 3 tablespoons sugar and bring it to a boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Turn heat down to medium and continue to cook and stir for 1 minute. Chill. Beat 1/4 cup room temperature butter with 1 tablespoon powdered sugar. Add as much of the chilled berry syrup as you’d like. The color will get pretty vibrant if you add it all, but OH, the flavor! If it isn’t thick enough, add a little more powdered sugar. That’s it!
Now…just for fun, you could do it my way. I admit, this was less because I’m a purist and more because I was out of butter, but I think I’d do it this way again; the butter is so sweet and good. To make homemade butter, simply put 1/2 cup of heavy cream in a small bowl and beat it on high with an electric mixer until it looks like it’s curdled and liquid appears in the bottom of the bowl. (I used a wimpy mixer and it still only took about 5 minutes.) Strain out the liquid (that’s buttermilk, folks!) and stir with a spoon, pressing and mashing gently. Again, pour out liquid. Cover the butter with cold water, mash a few more times with a spoon, strain out the water, and *voila!* you have butter. Add a pinch of salt, a tablespoon of powdered sugar, and berry syrup and mix until combined.
Before I give you the bagel recipe, I need to make a disclaimer. If you noticed that my finished bagels were a little dimpled, I have to admit I did something kind of brainless. I knew better, but it’s been a while since I’ve made bagels, and hey – it happens. I put the egg wash on the bagels before they rose, instead of after they came out of their bath. It probably kept the crust from forming, which made them look a little different, but they tasted great and were nice and chewy. Just not as crusty on the outside as usual. So if you like soft bagels, you might want to try my new “method”.
|Huckleberry Bagels|| |
- 1 cup frozen huckleberries
- 1¼ cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 3½ cups bread flour
- 1 tablespoon flour to dredge berries in
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- finely ground cornmeal
- 1 egg, and 2 teaspoons water for egg wash
- In a small bowl, heat berries in the microwave on high for 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute. Place in a strainer over a small bowl to drain. Don't mash them. When all of the juice has drained into bowl, place the berries in the freezer (it's easiest just to leave them in the strainer) and set the juice aside if you plan to make huckleberry butter. (See below)
- In a large bowl (a stand mixer is best) combine the water, white sugar, and yeast. Let it sit until foamy, about 5-10 minutes.
- Using your dough hook, add the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and 2 cups of the bread flour. Mix well.
- Add the remaining flour and knead by mixer for 7-8 minutes, or by hand for 8-10 minutes. Bagel dough should be very elastic and shouldn't break apart easily when you stretch it.
- Form dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and allow dough to rise until doubled, about an hour.
- Punch down dough and on a lightly floured surface, separate into 8 (or 12 for smaller bagels) equal pieces.
- Remove berries from the freezer and dredge them in 1 tablespoon flour, breaking them up as you work. Shake out the extra flour.
- Flatten one piece of dough at a time and sprinkle with berries. Bring the edges up toward the center and pinch to close.
- Turn the dough over so the pinched side is on the flat surface, and pull the ball of dough towards you, tucking sides under a little as you pull. This will create a very round, uniform ball of dough. Push your finger through the middle to create a hole, and then with both thumbs in the hole, twiddle your thumbs until a large hole is created. Try to keep the bagel as uniform as possible, but don't worry if a berry or two peek out of the middle. Bagels are rustic, not perfect.. Repeat until all bagels are formed, Leave them on the floured surface, covered with a towel, for 30 minutes.
- While the bagels are sitting, Preheat oven to 450 F. and lightly grease a baking sheet and sprinkle it with cornmeal.
- When the 30 minutes is almost up, fill a very large pot half full of water. Add 1 tablespoon baking soda and bring to a boil.
- Drop bagels into boiling water in batches, a few at a time, giving them enough room to move around without touching the other bagels. Let them boil for 90 seconds on each side, then gently remove one at a time with a slotted spatula, let it drip over the pan, and set it on the prepared baking sheet. They can go fairly close together since they won't rise while baking.
- Whisk the egg and water together and brush the top of each bagel.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a rich golden brown.
- Move to racks to cool.
- To make huckleberry butter, boil ¼ cup of huckleberry juice (add water if necessary) with 3 tablespoons of sugar, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking and stirring for 1 minute. Chill mixture. Beat ¼ cup soft butter with 1 tablespoon powdered sugar and add as much huckleberry syrup as desired. Beat until combined.
I love these toasted, with a thin scraping of butter. Oh, who am I kidding? I love these slathered in cream cheese, huckleberry butter, regular butter, or even plain. I’ll eat them stale!
I hope you’ll give them a try. Maybe I’ll see you in the woods!