Gluten Free - It's harder than it looks
As a food establishment, gluten-free is something lots of folks are talking about. It's not always as easy as it looks.
Recently we have begun offering gluten-free bagel along with other gluten-free items in our display case. It has taken some time to work on the process, largely because baking is not cooking.
One of the best articles I have read is at http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/how-to-make-any-dish-gluten-free/. While it is not the definitive answer to gluten free, it is a great place to start. Here are some of the battles in making a gluten-free bagel.
Moisture. Bagels themselves need moisture for the yeast to work. While there are many pseudo-recipes for bagels with yeast, bagels have yeast. Part of the glory of a good bagel is a crunchy or firm outside with a soft chewy bread on the inside. Bagels - get moisture from the mixing and then again from the boiling. The dough in regular bagels has oil and surface that doesn't readily allow the bagel to dissipate in the boiling water. Gluten-Frees do not. Boiling is minimal and water in the process is plentiful.
Flour. Flour is not Flour -- 1-2-1 Flour is not flour. It wants to be -- but really it isn't. It's a series of ground starches and gums to help it congeal like flour. Regular bagels have mixing times to help create a nice gluten to give them the great texture. GF bagels get water - not too much and not too little. See the aforementioned paragraph.
Yeast. Yes, yeast. It is the primary rise ingredient in bagels. When we make GF cakes - we can add in a leavener to bring about rising. The flour suspension really does well with that as we aren't looking for a lot of gluten -- however, in bagels -- yeast -- and there is no gluten to grab on.
Cost. Gluten-free flours are not cheap -- there are more than twice the cost of regular flour and working with them is not near as easy. Before we begin working with gluten-free - it all gets washed and wiped down. Because we are not a gluten-free facility, there is always a possibility regular can get into the product. For that reason we try and work with it first -- then put it away. Handling anything that costs more, separately -- cost more. Sorry.
So we have gluten-free bagels at Delicate Decadence. We have a variety of gluten free items. The bagel shelf life means we don't keep them on hand - as they are more expensive. We make a few every morning -- just a few!