Updated: May 5
Making your own bagels is within reach and not as complicated as you think.
Not a lot of people today know what a proper bagel actually should taste like. For one, a bagel should be the size of your fist, not your whole hand! A bagel also should have a crisp outside and a tender, chewy inside, which is to say that the whole thing should not be doughy. Bagels are like pizza: even when they are not so great, they are still pretty okay. Imagine, though, making one of the best bagels you have ever had, served to you warm from your own oven. You need not imagine it because you can do it, and at that with only five ingredients. Grab the cream cheese and smoked salmon (or salted butter and jam) and let's bake!...but first we must boil!
Equipment: measuring spoons; wet and dry measuring cups; two large mixing bowls, rubber spatula or wooden spoon or Polish dough whisk; standing mixer with dough hook attachment (optional), bench scraper, plastic wrap, baking sheet, parchment paper or nonstick baking mat; pastry brush; Dutch oven or large pot; slotted spoon or spider
Bagel Ingredients: 3½ cups bread flour (or all-purpose) *
2-3 teaspoons kosher salt
1¼ cups warm water ( 95°F - 110°F) 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon yeast **
vegetable oil for greasing ¼ cup toppings such as "everything bagel"seasoning, coarse salt, poppy or sesame seeds Water Bath Ingredients:
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
*Bread flour has more gluten (wheat protein) than does all-purpose flour. The more gluten the stronger the bread structure, and the chewier the bagel. That being said, all-purpose flour makes a perfectly perfect bagel!
**Are you using active yeast or instant ("rapid rise") yeast? The quantities do not change, but the procedure varies slightly (see below). One is not better than the other. Just use what you have as it was intended and you will be successful. It's all about technique, not torture!
1. If using ACTIVE YEAST: In a small bowl or measuring cup, sprinkle yeast and sugar on warm water. Stir. Let stand for 5 minutes (it should look like a small amount of foam). In a large bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour and salt.
2. Once activated and foamy, pour the water-yeast-sugar mixture over the flour and salt. Mix well to combine either with a spatula/spoon/Polish dough whisk until a shaggy dough begins to form. It will be dry and crumbly and not entirely formed. Empty the dough and scraps onto a clean counter to begin kneading the dough.
1. If using INSTANT YEAST: In a large bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, salt, yeast, and sugar.
2. Pour the water over the flour mixture. Mix well to combine either with a spatula/spoon/Polish dough whisk until a shaggy dough begins to form. It will be dry and crumbly and not entirely formed. Empty the dough and scraps onto a clean counter to begin kneading the dough.
3. Knead the dough for 5 minutes (the standing mixer cannot do this job), working in the stray scraps to form a cohesive ball of dough. It's a dense and stiff dough, so it will take a few minutes. When done kneading, the dough will feel sightly tacky but become much more smooth than when you began kneading.
5. Put dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 1 hour in a warm, draft-free environment, where it will grow in size.
6. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a clean work surface (NO additional flour). Divide the ball of dough into 8 equal pieces.
7. Roll each piece of dough into an 8-inch strand. To shape the bagel, place your palm facing upwards in the center of a strand of dough. Grab one end with your thumb and bring it to the palm of your hand, while you grab the other end with your other hand to place it on top of the end on your palm so the two overlap by an inch or so. Squeeze the dough gently to bind the seams together, and roll the dough on your work surface to seal it further.
8. Place the formed bagels evenly spaced on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Brush each bagel very lightly with vegetable oil and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator overnight or, if making the same day, in a warm, draft-free environment for 1-2 hours, until doubled (meaning that the bagels have risen and puffed and the holes have subsequently shrunk in diameter).
9. If storing in the refrigerator overnight, remove the bagels 1 hour before you want to bake them. To be certain the bagels are ready for bathing and baking, perform a float test: place one bagel in a bowl of cool water (only one needs to be tested). If the bagel floats, you are ready to begin the water bath. If the bagel sinks, the dough just needs to proof some more, so cover them again with plastic wrap and set aside to rise.
10. Once the bagels pass the float test, preheat the oven to 500°F and prepare the water bath. Heat water, at least 4 inches deep, in a Dutch oven or large pot over high heat until boiling. Once the water comes to a boil, add the honey, kosher salt, and baking soda, which will foam a bit. Immediately turn the heat to medium-low.
11. Carefully as many bagels as will fit comfortably (probably 2-3) into the simmering water to poach for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon or spider, flip each bagel and poach for 1 minute more. If using seeds or seasoning, drizzle a teaspoon of seasoning over the area on the parchment paper where the bagels will return. Remove the bagels from the water and place on the parchment. Sprinkle each bagel with additional seeds/seasoning if using. Repeat this process until all the bagels have been in the water bath.
12. Place the bagels in the 500°F oven and immediately turn the heat to 450°F. Bake for 10 minutes and then rotate the pan. Bake for another 8-10 minutes, until the bagels are a rich golden brown.
"The bagels should have a very firm and crisp outside, with a very soft and chewy interior. Tempting as it is, let the bagels rest for half an hour before tearing into them (they will still be warm!) so that the structure of the bagels is not compromised."
13. Allow the bagels to rest for 30 minutes before serving.
Makes 8 bagels.