They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Cuteness, on the other hand, has universal standards. According to several scientific studies, these include big eyes, round faces and other infantile features.
Cuteness also seems to have universal appeal. An Atlanta psychology professor found that “men and women showed nearly identical responses to cute stimuli,” although they rate it differently for social reasons.
Still, the effects of cuteness on our brains’ pleasure centers are evident. They give laughing babies, sleepy rodents—even Hello Kitty—power over us. And unleashing this power is a great way to infuse bagels with extra charm.
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 1/4 tsp (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 3 C flour
Dissolve yeast in water. Stir in sugar and salt. Add 2 C flour and beat 5 minutes. Stir in additional flour to form a stiff dough.
Knead dough on a floured surface until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until nearly doubled.
Or, if you prefer, mix this dough in a bread machine.
Punch dough down and divide into two pieces. Set aside one half and cover, then divide the other half into 12 pieces.
To shape bagels, form each piece of dough into a ball.
Push your thumb through the center of the dough to create a hole.
Then gently stretch the dough into a ring, working your fingers around the perimeter until the opening is at least 1/2″ (1/5 cm).
When all the dough has been shaped, place bagels on a floured surface and let rise 20 minutes.
Bring 12 C water to a boil in a large pot. Add 1 T sugar, if desired.
Then drop the bagels gently into the water, a few at a time.
Boil for 30 seconds on each side, turning only once (you can extend this time slightly for chewier bagels).
Then remove bagels and place on paper towels to drain.
When all bagels have been boiled, place on baking sheets dusted with cornmeal.
Beat 1 egg yolk with 1 T water and brush onto bagels. Sprinkle with any desired toppings, like herbs and cheese, spiced streusel or crunchy seeds.
Bake 400°F (205°C) for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove to wire racks to cool.
If you’re trying to find your way to someone’s heart through his or her stomach, cuteness is the perfect addition to your strategy.
With a cute stimulus like these bagels, you’ll win their brain before you can say “baby seal.” And if your adorable creation is also delicious, their heart will soon be yours as well.
After all, scientists told the New York Times that people have “enormous affection for the manatee, which looks like an overfertilized potato with a sock puppet’s face.”
And these bagels are much cuter than that.