Monday, July 26, 2010

Bagels with Vital Wheat Gluten

As mentioned below, we were up in Maine this past weekend to visit with Anna's family... and she had the bright idea for me to make the Peter Reinhart water bagels that were such a hit with our friends a few months ago. The problem? I didn't have enough high gluten flour to make another batch, nor enough time to order another package. Obviously I could have just made them with bread flour and done with some less chewy bagels... but since I live with a vegetarian who (sometimes) makes her own seitan... why not use vital wheat gluten as an additive to doctor up regular flour? While I doubt many non-vegetarians and/or non-bakers even know it exists, the advantage of vital wheat gluten is that it's more widely available at places like Whole Foods than high gluten flour... so if it worked, it might open up the homemade bagel making to people who don't want to hassle with ordering flour online.

Luckily somebody on the internets already had this idea, and comes to the conclusion that using 97% all purpose flour with 3% vital wheat gluten gets it right. Handily 3% of the total amount of flour in Reinhart's recipe comes out to almost exactly 1 ounce... so I just substituted one ounce of vital wheat gluten for one of the ounces of flour in the sponge and called it a day. Obviously this is not mathematically precise, since I have no idea how much protein the flour I was using had versus the protein in hers, but the general concept definitely works.

The bagels were just as good, if not better, than my previous batch. Wonderfully chewy and nearly perfect... the only thing I'm still working on is getting better browning (baking soda in the water was tried this time and was not particularly impressive).