One summer in college, I decided to try to master the whole wheat loaf of bread. Those of you with baking experience know what a pain whole wheat flour can be to work with, and there I was, having baked very few loaves of bread in my life, suddenly determined to figure out the secret to beautifully risen, free-form artisan boules without white flour. I tried many, many recipes many, many times, and most of my bread ended up looking like a mess. At least the end product of a failed baking attempt still tastes good, and eventually, I did master whole wheat loaves (whole wheat pastry flour and enameled cast iron pots are key!).
These bagels are whole wheat and require yeast, but don’t fear: they’re much easier to make than an artisan loaf.
[If you enjoy whole wheat baking, a grain mill can make things easier as whole grain products tend to rise better when the grain is freshly ground. A grain mill is not a necessary kitchen gadget by any means, but if you’re an avid whole grain baker, it might be worth the investment.]
These bagels are a favorite for me, and they stock well in the freezer. They take a bit of time to make, but it’s totally worth it to have a load of on-the-go breakfasts stashed away. Slather a couple with some nut butter or cream cheese and eat alongside a piece of fruit and a hard-boiled egg for a tasty and balanced breakfast or snack. Have I convinced you yet? Get to mixing and don’t fear the yeast!
Whole wheat everything mini bagels
Adapted from The Well-Floured Kitchen
Makes 24 mini bagels
2 tablespoons instant dry yeast
2 2/3 cups water
7 cups white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup flax meal
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt, divided
2 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
3 tablespoons rolled oats
1 teaspoon dried granulated garlic
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 egg, beaten
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast with 1/3 cup water and a pinch of sugar. Allow the yeast to activate for 10 minutes.
- Add the remaining water, whole wheat flour, flax meal, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 tablespoon sugar to the yeast mixture. Turn the mixer on to a low setting and mix until the dough comes together and starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. At this point, adjust the water or flour as needed to get a soft, slightly tacky dough. Knead 5 minutes in the stand mixer (or 10 minutes if kneading by hand). Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rise 2 hours.
- Line two baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper. Dump the dough out on your counter and divide into 24 roughly equal pieces. This is most easily done by first dividing the dough in half, then into quarters, then eighths, and so on. If you have a food scale, each of the 24 pieces should weigh between 60-65 grams. Form each piece of dough into a ball by gently stretching the top of the dough around to the back side (see photo above) and pressing the ball onto the counter to seal the seams. Space the dough balls 1-2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Use a finger to gently poke a hole in the middle of each ball, stretching the dough around 1-2 fingers to form a hole about 1 inch in diameter. When all of the dough has been formed into bagel shapes, cover the baking sheets with a clean towel and let rest 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the topping mixture. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, oats, garlic, and onion powder. Mix well, then transfer to a small plate.
- Preheat oven to 425F and bring a wide pot of water with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar to a gentle boil. Boil 6 bagels at a time for 90 seconds on each side, then remove with a slotted spoon and return to the baking sheets. Repeat until all the bagels have been boiled.
- One at a time, brush the top of each boiled bagel with egg, then flip the bagel over onto the plate of the topping mixture. Return to the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining bagels.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then flip the bagels over with a spatula and bake 10 minutes more. Cool completely, then slice in half lengthwise and slather with cream cheese, jam, or nut butter. These bagels will turn hard if left at room temperature, so I recommend slicing and freezing them within a few hours after baking. Reheat in a toaster for 2-3 minutes before serving.