Week 10: Healthier honey whole wheat bagels

Upon request, I’m making the honey whole wheat bagels again. But this time I’ll try to make them a bit healthier — with less sugar and more fiber — and see if they still taste good.

The base recipe contains:

bread flour
whole wheat flour
vital wheat gluten
sea salt

I could just increase the proportion of whole wheat flour to bread flour by half a cup in each direction, but I want to try substituting wheat germ for part of the bread flour instead. I know it will add more fiber, which is a good thing, but it may also decrease the number of carbohydrates. I am not sure how it will change the texture, but we’ll surely find out!

So, now the ingredients are:

bread flour
wheat germ
whole wheat flour
vital wheat gluten
sea salt

At this point I started the dough cycle, and decided to look up the carbohydrate information for various types and brands of flours. I also realized that, as much as I had wanted to make two different batches of bagels today, it probably wasn’t going to happen. It was a combination of running out of time and not having chosen another recipe to work with. Also, I think I’m out of “normal” bagel recipes from my bread machine books, unless I want to veer off into Cinnamon Raisin territory or grow my own wheat sprouts. Right now, however, I have quite enough to handle with regard to Random Products of Kefir. I try to start the new whole-milk feedings at the same time of day, but sometimes I forget what day it is and I don’t stop the fermentation process when I had intended to. As of right now I have 16 ounces (or more) of blackberry kefir yogurt smoothie in the fridge (which I’ve forgotten to drink for two days, so goodness knows what state that’s in), several ounces of proto-cream-cheese hanging to drain out the whey, and a new batch of kefir started as of 5pm today. I have to get this under control. I did purchase the whole book on natural cheesemaking from which came the photocopies George sent me, but I bought that book a week ago and haven’t had a moment yet to even open it. Hey there, book. I’ll get there when I get there.

But I digress, as I am occasionally wont to do. Back to carbohydrate information. Because I store my flour in large glass jars, and keep any extra amounts in gallon-sized Ziploc bags in the fridge, I don’t usually have access to the nutrition information on the bag of flour; that gets thrown away whenever I can store the flour in jar and bag. As it happened, I did have a five-pound bag of King Arthur Bread Flour to pour into jar and bag, and when it was empty I just clipped out the nutrition information graphic, labelled it, and kept it. I can do this for the different brands and types of flour I buy as I replenish them; there’s no real urgency here. To get a general idea of the varying amounts of carbohydrates involved, I did look up numbers from my copy of Laurel’s Kitchen. I don’t think that flours have essentially changed too much since this wonderful book was published in 1986, but in case they have, those data serve as a fine baseline. (And by the way, Carol Flinders writes beautifully; it’s worth any price for this book to read just the section with her byline.)

The carbohydrate guesstimate for this recipe amounted to:

bread flour, 220 g
wheat germ, 20g
whole wheat flour, 43g
yeast, 0g
vital wheat gluten, 2g
sugar, 12g
sea salt, 0g
water, 0g
honey, 34g

For a total of 331g of carbohydrates for the whole recipe, that works out to 33.1 grams of carbohydrates for the average sized bagel. The store-bought onion bagels from last week were about 47g of carbs per bagel — just as a reference point.



Bagels, having been formed, were resting under a kitchen towel while the water came to a boil. The bagels you see at left in the picture above were the ones I formed first, so you can see that I don’t make good estimates when it comes time to divide the dough in half, then again into fifths. After the first two bagels, each bagel seemed to get smaller and smaller. Article after article I’ve read stresses the importance of weighing each hunk of dough to ensure that each one is the same size down to the ounce, but I really don’t mind having larger and smaller bagels at the end of the process. It lets people have choices.


The bagels were starting to hit the boiling water now. A few of the bagels lost their circular join, but I’m not as worried about that now as I used to be. I just place them on the baking sheet so they’ll come back together again as they bake. And they did look a bit scrawny after their 10 minute rise, but they plumped up quite a bit in the boil.


Now all the bagels got an egg-white wash and went into the oven for 30 minutes. And by this point I had definitively decided to make the second batch of bagels on Monday night. I think that I have found the bagel recipe that I previously used — just last year — and it (gasp!) does not use a bread machine. It made sense to delay the bagels to a time when I would have more time to devote to them.

This evening, as I write and edit and publish this post, I’m hurrying just to remain at the same level of “behind” on my list of onerous tasks and lofty goals for the weekend. Of course I didn’t get everything accomplished. In the end, I can only do what I can do while still staying sane. Tomorrow may present its own mixture of challenges and delights. But it will also have bagels. What will my tasters think?



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