Bagel Bonanza

It has been a long time coming, this bagel post. Between testing different recipes and forgetting to take pictures, I thought I would never get to writing about my all time favorite home made bagels. It all began about a year ago, I was staying with friends in the city for a summer, commuting to architecture school while simultaneously baking my way through the bread bakers apprentice. When I made those first bagels I was rather disappointed, they were delicious, but also very dense and covered in semolina flour. So I set off on a quest for the best bagels, trying the recipes in every single bread book I owned, and eventually came to find my own recipe that hasn’t let me down once.

Saturday Morning Bagels (makes 10)

For the Dough:

  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 3/4 tbls instant yeast (1 packet)
  • 3/4 tbls Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tbls ground pepper
  • 1 tbls honey
  • 3 1/4 cups bread flour

Supplies:

  • oven stone
  • large (wide) pot
  • parchment paper
  • saran wrap
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbls baking soda
  • sesame seeds ( or your preference)

The Dough

In the mixing bowl of your stand mixer (or just a large bowl if you’re making by hand)  add the water, salt, yeast, pepper, and honey. Stir gently to mix and let sit for about 5 minutes

In another bowl, measure out the flour and pour it into the bowl with the liquid mixture and mix lightly with a wooden spoon until a ball forms.

Now it’s time to move to the stand mixer. With a dough hook, mix on medium for about 5 minutes. Let the dough rest for a minute and then check it’s tackiness. It should tacky but not sticky (i.e. the dough will stick to your finger, but as you pull away no dough will stay on your hands) If the dough is two wet add more flour, 1 tbls spoon at a time. If the dough is two dry carefully hand knead in more water.

If you are planning on baking the bagels the same day, just cover the mixing bowl with saran wrap (not airtight though!). If you are planning on saving the dough (up to 4 days) and baking later, transfer the dough to a storage container and place the lid on it without sealing. Now let it rest for 2 hours or until it rises and starts to collapse on itself.

Next either seal the storage container and place it in the refrigerator, or begin shaping. I generally will cut my dough in half at this point and refrigerate part of it while baking my first batch. My baking stone can only fit 5 bagels at a time, so to make sure that the second batch doesn’t over-rise, I let them hang out in the fridge until the first batch is in the oven.

Mies en Place

Before you start shaping you must preheat your oven and prepare the boiling pot. I like to use the widest pot I have. When you boil the bagels you absolutely do not want them to bounce into one another, so if you want to boil more than one at a time, it’s very important that they have enough room.

To prepare the oven, place a baking stone on a shelf in the lower third of your oven. On the shelf below, or on the floor of the oven, place a cast iron skillet or broiling pan. If you don’t have a stone, place an upside-down baking sheet in the oven. Pre-heat to 450 degrees. I like to start my oven an hour before I plan on putting anything in it so my stone has time to heat up.

For the boiling pot, fill your pot up half way with water and then the sugar and baking soda. Set the pot to boil before you start shaping the bagels, so that when they are done rising the boiling pot is ready for them.

Shaping and Baking

Whether the dough is straight from the fridge or freshly made, cut the dough into 140-160 gram balls (bigger than a golf ball, smaller than a tennis ball), shaping them as you would a dinner roll. Place them on a floured counter a few inches apart. Sprinkle the tops with a little excess flour and cover loosely with saran wrap. If the dough is from the fridge let them rise for 25-30 minutes, if the dough is fresh let them rise for 20 minutes.

Once they rise very gently shape them into bagels. There are many different ways to shape bagels, but my favorite is poking a hole though the middle and gently pulling outwards. The  shaped bagel will shrink when it hits the water, so stretch it a little bit wider and thinner than you would expect.

As soon as they are shaped they are ready to go into the boiling pot. Gently drop the bagels in and boil them for a minute and a half on each side. Then scoop them out of the water, a place them on a piece of parchment paper. Now is the time to add the seasonings of your choice. I usually do half sesame seeds, and half everything I’ve got.

Once all your bagels are boiled, keep them on the parchment paper and put them into the oven. Immediately pour a cup of hot water in to the steam pan at the bottom of your oven and close the door.

bake for 20 minutes, enjoy immediately.

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