Rainbow bagels have been on my bucket list for awhile. Y’all know I’m pretty obsessed with rainbows and unicorns and just all the colors. And now pretty much any time I get an idea for a new baking project my first question is “how can I rainbow-ify this naturally?” Honestly my little pipe dream is to open my own rainbow bakery one day. It will feature all kinds of naturally dyed rainbow-ified baked goods – cakes, breads, the works. With a revolving menu so it’s not just the same old things everyday.
But back to these bagels…
For this experiment I used this whole wheat bagel recipe which I’ve used several times in the past. https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1017092-peter-reinharts-whole-wheat-bagels
For the color, well, adding color is a lot easier said than done when you’re going the natural route. If you’ve been following awhile you’ll know I prefer to use superfood powders to add color to my baking projects rather than food dye. The superfood powders I use are as follows: beet powder for red, beet powder + turmeric for yellow, turmeric for yellow, spirulina or culinary matcha or a combo of both depending on the green I’m going for, and maqui berry for purple. The brand I have gravitated towards using the most frequently is the mrm superfoods brand. I have tried using the color kitchen brand but I wasn’t always impressed with the results. So going directly to the source i.e. superfood powders seemed to be the way to go here.
I found (after much trial and error) that it works best if you mix the superfood powders with water before adding them to your recipes rather than just adding them directly to your dough. I had many failed experiments before I figured this out lol. Many times the colors would look vibrant prior to baking but then they would become quite muted after baking. Or worse yet, some of the colors would disappear all together.
So, start by preparing the dough per the recipe directions. Then in separate bowls, combine your colors with a little water just until mixed. Work it into the dough, kneading in more flour as needed. Make sure to really work the color into the dough. Don’t be shy. For this you really need to get your hands dirty. I can’t give exact measurements for how much water/color/flour I used here because it’s more of a “feel as you go” process. You don’t want the dough to be too stiff or too sticky. You basically want it to easily form into a dough ball. Then once you have all your colors added, you let the dough rise per the recipe, making sure to oil your bowls to prevent the dough from drying out as it rises.
So now you can finally move on to actually forming the bagels. I decided I didn’t want them all to look the same. So I pinched off pieces of dough from various colors and formed them into bagels that way so they would all be slightly different.
Here they are prior to their second rise:
And here they are again right after their second rise. You can see how much of a difference the rise makes. It is essential you do not rush the rise time. I know it’s hard waiting around but you don’t want all your hard work to go to waste and result in a sub par product because you didn’t want to let the dough rise properly.
Another thing to mention: the water bath! I never skip this step when making bagels or pretzels at home. The water bath is basically what gives bagels their signature chewy texture. The longer the bath, the chewier they will be. Another thing to note is that once they are boiled, the dough is “set” meaning it won’t rise once it is baked. This is also why it is essential to let the dough rise properly. You saw how small and wimpy the bagels were before their second rise. That’s how they would bake out if you were to skip the rise. Nobody wants a small, wimpy bagel.
Finally, the finished product! I think they came out quite nice but perhaps I’m a little biased 😉
And you all know I love those inside shots so I couldn’t resist a nice shot of the rainbow inside:
Feeling adventurous? Try my chocolate bagel recipe (click on the picture):