This recipe is based off Peter Reinhart’s in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice and makes 12 large or 24 mini bagels.
EQUIPMENT: large mixing bowl, 2 large sheet pans, parchment paper, large wide-mouth pot, slotted spoon or skimmer
1 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
4 cups bread flour
2 1/2 to 3 cups water (around 95-110° degrees)
1 tsp instant yeast
3 3/4 cups bread flour
2 3/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp baking soda
TOPPINGS: sesame seeds, poppy seeds, coarse salt, garlic powder, onion powder, SLICES OF CHEESE
SPONGE: In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in 2 cups of warm water (ideal temp 95-110°) and add some sugar, about 1 tsp to feed your hungry yeast baby. Whisk and let sit for 10 minutes. Add the flour, and while stirring gradually add 1/2 to 1 cup of water until it’s a smooth, sticky waffle-batter consistency. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 2 hours or until the mixture becomes foamy and bubbly.
Active time: 10 min. /// Passive time: 2 hours
[ My hubby and I leave the heat at 62° in the winter, so my apartment is way too cold for yeast to get it on. Previously, I’ve paired laundry day with bread day so I could proof bread in the warm laundry closet, but I’m not that good at planning. I have found another way for my sweater donned, fiscally conservative bakers: the MICROWAVE! —DO NOT TURN THE MICROWAVE ON—I just use it as a proofing drawer (à la Great British Bake Off) to great success! ]
DOUGH: Add the remaining yeast, salt, brown sugar and stir. Then add 3 cups of flour, stirring until it forms a ball, slowly working in the remaining 3/4 cups of flour to stiffen the dough.
Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for at least 10 minutes. The dough should be firm and satiny, pliable and smooth, around 77-81°F. All the ingredients should be hydrated and no raw flour present. If the dough feels too dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue to knead. If the dough is too tacky or sticky, add a little flour. I tend to err on the side of a wetter dough because I find it easier to add flour than water.
Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces for large bagels or 24 for small bagels, cover with a damp towel and let rest for 20 min.
Line 2 large sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly mist with spray oil. Now it’s time to form the bagels!!! If making large bagels, roll the dough into an 8 inch long rope, if the dough is too elastic and snaps back, cover and let rest for 5 min for the gluten to relax. Once you have your dough snake, wrap it around the palm and back of your hand forming a circle. I like to pinch the seam where the dough meets.
Place your bagels on the pan, 2 inches apart. Lightly mist them with spray oil and cover with plastic. Let the pans sit at room temperature for 30 min. Then put the pans in the fridge overnight or up to 2 days.
Active time: 1 hour /// Passive time: 50 min; then overnight or up to 2 days
THE NEXT DAY or whenever you’re ready to make them, preheat the oven to 500°F with the two racks set in the middle of the oven (or you could bake the trays separately). Bring a large, wide pot of water to a steady boil and add baking soda. Have a slotted spoon or skimmer nearby.
Remove the bagels from the fridge and gently drop them into the water, be careful not to overcrowd the pot. After 1 minute, flip them over and boil for 1 more minute. If you like chewy bagels, you can boil them up to 2 minutes one each side. Meanwhile, dust the same pan’s parchment paper with cornmeal (I love the crunchy bottom) before returning the boiled bagels to the pan. Now is the time to top your bagels with the dry ingredients of your choosing. I suggest making your own everything blend with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Play around and have fun with it.
When all the bagels have been boiled and bedazzled, place the pans on the middle shelves in the oven. Bake for 5 minutes, rotate and switch the pans, then turn the temp down to 450°. Bake for 5-10 more minutes until bagels are light-medium browned.
If topping the bagels with slices of cheddar cheese, which I highly recommend, top the bagels a minute or two before removing them from the oven. Let the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes before serving. When bagels have cooled completely, slice in half and store in plastic bags in your freezer. These freeze super well and once you taste the difference, you’ll never buy steamed factory bagels again.
Active time: 30 min. /// Passive time: 25 min.