Recipe: Break the Yom Kippur fast with homemade bagels


Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is one of the holiest days on the Jewish calendar, during which time a strict fast is observed. 

Before the fast, it is customary to serve a family dinner consisting of simple foods prepared with a minimum of salt and spices, so those who fast will not be unduly thirsty or endure the pangs of stimulated taste buds.

At the break-the-fast meal, dairy foods are traditionally served, along with bagels accompanied by smoked salmon. The salty fish makes up for the bland pre-holiday menu, and serves as a reward for those observing the fast.

And the bagel? It’s only one of the most beloved items in Jewish cuisine. Made in a unique manner, they are first boiled and then baked, which gives them their distinctive shiny, chewy crust.

There are many opinions as to where the bagel originated. Many say Germany, insisting that the word “bagel” is derived from the German “bugel,” which means a ring or curved bracelet. Others think bagel-making probably originated in 17th-century Vienna, where a certain bakery sold round, stirrup-shaped rolls to honor a Polish king who loved to ride horseback.

Despite their popularity, very few of us have attempted to bake our own bagels. In my cooking classes, students sometimes tell me that when they make bagels at home, they turn out heavy and undersized. But if you follow my practically fool-proof directions, you’ll see that bagel-making is fairly easy.

At a recent bagel cooking class, we decided to top half of our creations with a sprinkling of chopped onions and some poppy seeds. By noon, we had turned out the most wonderful, fresh-from-the-oven, light, plump, golden brown bagels that have ever come out of my kitchen. 

Consider making some of your own for the Yom Kippur break-the-fast meal. You can offer them by themselves or serve Hot Bagel Appetizers with cream cheese and chopped smoked salmon. I am including a recipe for Scandinavian Bagels and Lox with Dill Sauce as another appetizer.

Instead of making garlic toast with French bread, try my version of Toasted Garlic Bagels using a spread of butter or margarine blended with garlic to serve with salads, roasts or stews. And for a special treat with your freshly baked bagels, try experimenting with some interesting cream cheese accompaniments. 

WATER BAGELS

– 2 cups cold tap water
– 2 tablespoons sugar
– 3/4 tablespoon salt
– 1 tablespoon malt
– 1 tablespoon oil
– 8 cups high-gluten flour (12 to 13 percent) or 8 cups flour plus 4 tablespoons powdered gluten
– 5 teaspoons active dry yeast
– 1 tablespoon yellow corn meal

Preheat oven to 425 F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, using a dough hook (if you own one), blend water, sugar, salt, malt and oil. Add 6 cups of the flour mixed with yeast and blend until the dough comes together. Add the remaining flour, beating until smooth. If any dry flour mixture remains in the bottom of the bowl, add several drops of water to moisten it and continue beating 5 minutes.

Transfer to a wooden board; do not add any oil, water or additional flour. Cover with a towel and let rest for 5 minutes. Divide dough into 15 pieces, weighing about 3 ounces each. Cover with a towel. Remove one piece at a time and knead by folding each piece in half and pushing out any air pockets; then fold in half again and repeat. Shape into a rope about 5-inches long. Form into a doughnut shape, overlap ends by about 1 inch, and knead into a smooth perfect circle. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.

Sprinkle corn meal on the wooden board and place bagels on top. Cover with a towel and let rest 5 minutes.

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a rolling boil. Drop 4 to 6 bagels (do not crowd) into boiling water and boil for 10 seconds only. (At this time, bagels should rise to the top of the water.) Transfer with a slotted spoon to a wire rack and drain. 

Place the bagels on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown. 

Makes about 15 bagels.

Variations

ONION-POPPY SEED BAGELS

After boiling and draining bagels, press the top of each bagel into a mixture of chopped onion mixed with poppy seeds. Bake as directed.

EGG BAGELS

Replace the water in the ingredients list with 2 or 3 egg yolks placed in a 2-cup measuring cup, and add enough water to fill it. 

HOT BAGEL APPETIZERS

– 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
– 4 tablespoons sour cream
– 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
– 1/2 cup chopped lox (smoked salmon)
– 3 tablespoons capers
– Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
– 6 bagels, sliced in half

Preheat broiler.

In a medium-size bowl, mix together the cream cheese, sour cream, onions and lox. Fold in capers. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Toast bagels and spread evenly with cream cheese mixture. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil until lightly browned. Serve immediately. 

Makes 12 servings.

SCANDINAVIAN BAGELS AND LOX WITH MUSTARD DILL SAUCE

– Mustard Dill Sauce (recipe follows)
– 6 bagels, sliced in half
– 12 small, thin slices of lox (smoked salmon)
– Fresh dill and lettuce for garnish
– 12 cherry tomatoes

Prepare the Mustard Dill Sauce and set aside.

Place a slice of lox on each bagel slice and top with Mustard Dill Sauce. Place on individual plates and garnish with fresh dill, lettuce and cherry tomatoes. 

Makes 12 servings.

MUSTARD DILL SAUCE

– 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
– 1 teaspoon powdered mustard
– 2 tablespoons sugar
– 1 tablespoon white vinegar
– 1/3 cup olive oil
– 3 tablespoons minced fresh dill

In a small, deep bowl, combine Dijon mustard, powdered mustard, sugar and vinegar and blend well. With a wire whisk, slowly beat in oil until it forms a thick mayonnaise. Stir in the chopped dill. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Makes about 3/4 to 1 cup.

TOASTED GARLIC BAGELS

– 1/4 pound unsalted butter or margarine
– 3 to 4 garlic cloves, peeled
– 3 tablespoons minced parsley Salt to taste
– 8 bagels, sliced in half

In a processor, process butter and garlic until well-blended. Pulse in parsley. Season to taste with salt. 

With a rubber spatula, transfer mixture to a medium-size bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. (You can also shape the mixture into a cube, wrap in plastic wrap and foil, then freeze it; defrost until soft before use.)

Preheat the broiler. Spread the butter mixture on the bagel halves, place them on a baking sheet, and broil until the butter mixture bubbles and begins to brown. Serve immediately. 

Makes 16 servings.


Judy Zeidler is a food consultant, cooking teacher and author of 10 cookbooks, including “Italy Cooks” (Mostarda Press, 2011). Her website is judyzeidler.com.