When we were kids, my brother and I would go through food phases. They probably lasted about a week or two, and then we'd move on to the next: but we always cycled back again. The two foods that stick out majorly in my mind as being our go-to snacks are yogurt and bagels. I, to this day, love both. As I already have a post on making your own yogurt, I figured I should attempt bagels as well!
I've long stayed away from making bagels, simply because they require some pre-planning and time commitment. The first day has a few rises, and shaping of the dough. The second day is the boiling and baking, not really much effort but definitely planning ahead! Luckily, if you don't have two free days in a row, you can wait another day or two to do the baking.
This recipe, Peter Reinhart's recipe via Smitten Kitchen, is one of the most respected bagel recipes out there — everyone I know who has ever made (successful and delicious) bagels has used this recipe. I'm definitely on the bus now: these are amazing! All in all, it isn't a difficult recipe — and the results are fantastic.
I did a bit of improvising on toppings, and just used what I had around — then kicked myself later for not making cheese bagels! What was I thinking? I LOVE cheese bagels! I did some plain, some sesame, and some "everything" bagels. For future reference, use dried onion and garlic for your everything bagels — I used fresh and they turned out edible, but not super aesthetically pleasing.
These bagels have a perfect outer skin and chewy inside, perfect for toasting and slathering on cream cheese, butter, cinnamon sugar, lox, or whatever your heart may desire! I'm sold on bagels — and am glad I have a bunch (pre-sliced) in my freezer now!
1 teaspoon yeast
4 cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour (see note below)
2 ½ cups water, room temperature
½ teaspoon instant yeast
3 ¾ cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
2 ¾ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons malt powder or 1 tablespoon dark or light malt syrup, honey, or brown sugar
2 tablespoons baking soda
1 tablespoon barley syrup or honey
Cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting pans
Toppings: Cheese, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, kosher salt, rehydrated dried minced garlic and onions, or chopped onions and garlic that have been tossed in oil.
1. For the sponge, mix the yeast into the flour, then add water and mix until incorporated. Let sit at room temperature for two hours. The sponge should double in size and be bubbly.
2. For the dough, add the remaining yeast, honey, salt, and three cups of the flour. Mix with a dough hook (or knead by hand) for 6-10 minutes, gradually adding the remaining ¾ cup of flour. The dough will be very stiff, and should not be tacky.
3. Divide dough into even pieces — I found 4 ounces each to make the perfectly-sized bagel. Form each piece into a roll.
4. Cover the dough with a damp dish towel, and allow to rest for about 20 minutes.
5. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and lightly grease — either by misting or lightly coating in butter.
6. Shape each roll into a bagel by either poking a finger through the center and gently stretching outwards; or, rolling each piece into a rope before wrapping it around your hand and sealing closed by rolling the ends together between your palm and the countertop. I found the poke + stretch method to be easiest, and the center hole should be about 2 inches across. Arrange the bagels on the prepared parchment paper before covering with plastic wrap (or plastic bags).
7. After allowing the bagels to rest for 20 more minutes, fill a bowl with cool water and drop one of the bagels in it. If it floats within 10 seconds, the bagels are ready to be moved to the refrigerator overnight. If it does not float within 10 seconds, allow them to continue resting until you successfully complete the float test.
8. The next day (or up to two days later), remove the bagels from the refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 500 F and bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the barley syrup (or honey) and baking soda, and stir.
9. Drop the bagels into the water a few at a time, just enough so they will fit the surface of the water. Let them float for one minute before flipping them, with a slotted spoon, to cook for one minute on the other side. You can increase this boiling time to two minutes per side for extra-chewy bagels. Remove the bagels from the water bath, gently pat dry, and place back on new parchment paper dusted with cornmeal. If you are going to add toppings, now is the moment to do so.
10. Bake the bagels for 5 minutes before rotating the pan and continuing to cook for five more minutes. If you do not have multiple batches to cook, you may reduce the heat to 450 F after rotating the pans: I did not do this and they turned out fine.
11. When the bagels are golden-brown, remove from the oven and let cool at least 15 minutes before eating.