I made bagels! Or actually, Erez made bagels. It’s his new thing, and we’ve both gained 4 pounds since this new hobby of his has started, but I can’t really complain.
For our first time making them, we tried a few different recipes. The one I’m sharing is well explained throughout all the steps (therefore a bit long), but less complicated than others we’ve tried, uses simple ingredients, and makes really good bagels. They’re shiny and a bit dense but just airy enough, exactly how bagels should be.
There are two distinctive things in bagels that make them different from other breads. First, there’s malt in them, and it comes in either syrup or powder (the recipe has the option for both). Although this ingredient is kind of what makes it a real bagel and I recommend using it, you can have delicious bagels without it by using honey instead. Second, bagels are poached in a water-mixture before baking (similar to pretzels). This mixture includes baking soda and malt syrup, but again, if you don’t have it just use baking soda. In this step the bagels will puff up and be prepped to obtain that shiny brown look later while baking.
For bakery-style bagels, bread flour is the way to go. Erez insists on this so just do as he says.
Also, plan ahead. These bagels need a night (or at least 8-12 hours) in the fridge to rise slowly.
If it’s your first time making bread it may look a bit too much, but it’s really not that difficult. You just need patience (something I’m greatly lacking).
- 1 tablespoon malt syrup or honey or 1 teaspoon diastatic malt powder
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1½ tablespoons granulated sugar, optional
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (9 oz/255 g) lukewarm water
- 3½ cups (16 oz/450 g) bread flour
- Sesame seeds, black poppy seeds, or another topping of your choice
- 3 quarts/liters water
- 1½ tablespoons barley malt syrup or honey (optional)
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- To make the dough stir the malt syrup, yeast, sugar, and salt into the lukewarm water. Place the flour into a mixing bowl and pour in the malt syrup mixture. If using a mixer, use the dough hook and mix on the lowest speed for 3 minutes. If mixing by hand, use a large, sturdy spoon and stir for about 3 minutes, until well blended. The dough should form a stiff, coarse ball. If necessary, add a little more water. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
- Resume mixing with the dough hook on the lowest speed for another 3 minutes or transfer to a very lightly floured work surface and knead by hand for about 3 minutes. The dough should be stiff yet supple, with a satiny, barely tacky feel. If the dough seems too soft or overly tacky, mix or knead in a little more flour. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Line a pan with parchment paper. Divide the dough into 8 pieces (a typical bagel is about 4 oz/113 g, but you can make them smaller, about 65g). Form each piece into a ball, then shape into a bagel using this method: poke a hole with your finger through the center of the ball to create a donut shape. Holding the dough with both thumbs in the hole, rotate the dough with your hands, gradually stretching it to create a hole about 2 inch/5 cm in diameter. Place bagels on the prepared pan, then mist with spray oil or brush with a light coating of oil. Cover the entire pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days.
- Remove the bagels from the refrigerator 1 hour before you plan to bake them. Check whether the bagels are ready for baking using the “float test”: Place one of the bagels in a small bowl of cold water. If it sinks and doesn’t float back to the surface, shake it off, return it to the pan, and wait for another 15 to 20 minutes, then test it again. When one bagel passes the float test, they’re all ready to be boiled.
- About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450°F/230°C.
- To make the poaching liquid, fill a pot with water, making sure the water is at least 4 inch/10 cm deep. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain at a simmer. Stir in the malt syrup, baking soda, and salt. Gently place bagels into the water, adding as many as will fit in the pot. They should all float to the surface within a few seconds. After 60 seconds, turn each bagel over, then poach for another 60 seconds. Use slotted spoon to transfer the bagels back to the pan on the parchment paper (it’s better if the paper is a bit oiled to prevent the bagels from sticking to it). Sprinkle bagels with your favorite toppings.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the bagels are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature before serving.
- Bagels are best eaten the same day they are made, but can be frozen for up to 2 months in an airtight container.