Adapted from a Sophisticated Gourmet recipe
My family has been hankering for bagels, but with the current crisis I am not going to rush out and buy some. Looking online, I found a reasonable recipe and I gave it a try. It was incredibly easy and put all of the store bought bagels to shame.
These bagels were so good that when I asked if I should make more—just two days later—the resounding answer was, “Yes!!!” For the first batch, I had topped them with coarse salt and they were very popular. I had some left over poppy seeds from making hamantaschen, when I suggested poppy seed bagels the answer was, “Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!” I expanded the original recipe, so that I could make 12 bagels, some with salt and some with poppy seeds.
Karl’s New York Style Bagels
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1½ tablespoons Karl’s Orange Infused Sugar
1½+ cups warm water, separate uses
4+ cups bread flour
1½ tsp. Kosher salt
½ tsp. Fleur de sel, poppy seeds, or your favorite topping
1. Put the yeast and sugar into a measuring cup and add ½ cup of warm water.
2. Let the yeast soak for 5 minutes and then stir to dissolve any remaining sugar.
3. Whisk the flour and salt together in a large bowl.
4. Make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in the yeast and sugar mixture.
5. Use the remaining warm water to rinse out the yeast cup and add it to the large mixing bowl.
Note: Warm water activates the yeast to do its thing of eating starch and producing flavor compounds. If you are planning to bake right after you proof the dough for an hour this is a good thing. However, if you are planning to ferment the dough for an extended time—say, days for really good, pizza dough—this fast fermentation will start to produce “off” sour flavors over time. In that case, you want to slow the fermentation down by using ice water to mix with your flour.
6. Stir to combine the flour and liquid.
Tip: If you have a lot of dry flour, add a bit more warm water, up to another ¼ cup.
Note: You want a moist and firm dough that is easy to knead.
7. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, on a smooth floured surface, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Tip: Try working in as much flour as possible to form a firm and stiff dough.
Note: As you knead the dough will become hard to knead. If you get tired, let the dough rest for five minutes—covered with a damp towel—to let the gluten relax, before continuing. Don’t skimp on the 10 minutes of kneading, for a fine grained crumb with few large bubbles.
8. Roll the dough in a circular motion—pulling the dough into itself—on your work surface to close up the seam and form the dough into a ball.
Note: As you kneaded the dough one side had an area when you were pushing the outside into the center of the lump. As you roll the dough around, this seem gets smaller and smaller until it is just a spot. This is the bottom of your dough ball.
9. Pour a tablespoon of oil into large bowl and set the dough—top down—into the bowl.
10. Swirl the dough ball around, to cover the entire top with the oil.
Tip: The oil prevents the top of the dough from drying out.
11. Flip the ball over and cover the bowl with a damp towel.
Note: It is not necessary to coat the bottom of the dough with oil—as the yeast causes the dough to expand, it will press up against any remaining oil.
12. Let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until it has doubled in size.
13. Punch the dough down, and let it continue to rest for another 20 minutes.
Tip: Lightly dust the back of your hand with flour, so that it doesn’t stick and tear your beautiful dough.
14. Turn the dough out onto your work surface and divide it into 12 pieces.
Tip: Flatten the dough ball and cut it into even quarters. Cut each quarter into three even pieces.
15. Shape each small dough ball into a round.
Tip: You will have 12 pie-shaped pieces of dough. Press the points down into the center and bring the edges of the dough over it. Twist the seam and use the same rolling action to tighten the seam into a small spot.
16. Set the small dough balls, spot side, down on the board as you finish each one.
Note: It is very important to pay attention to which side of the dough is the top and bottom at this point—although it will become easily apparent after you boil them—the top will be smooth and rounded and the bottom will be just a bit raggedy.
17. Dust your thumb with flour, and gently press it into the center of each dough ball until it creates a hole.
18. Gently stretch to enlarge the hole—pulling with first one finger and then more fingers as the hole expands—to form a ring with about a one inch hole in the middle.
19. After shaping the dough rings, placing them on the cookie sheet, cover them with a damp kitchen towel.
Tip: Now is a good time to start pre-heating your oven to 425ºF and setting a large pot of water on the stove to come to a boil. You want to use a wide pot with plenty of water—you do not want the water to cool off too much as you add your raw dough.
Note: If you have never made bagels before, they are boiled before you bake them—this gives their crust its distinctive chew. The things you find at Safeway—labeled “bagels”—are not boiled and are simply bread in a ring shape—not even close to being the same.
20. When your bagels have risen and your pot of water has reached a roiling boil, drop three or four rings—top side down—into the water.
Tip: How many bagels you can boil at a time depends on how wide your pot is. They will almost double in size—as they boil—and you do not want them crowding the pot—I used a nine inch wide pot and I was able to fit four in at a time.
21. Boil the tops for about two minutes, before flipping them over.
Tip: You want your water to be as hot as possible without actually boiling over—adjust the heat if necessary.
Note: Use a slotted spoon or spider to manipulate your bagels.
22. Boil the second sides for another 1-2 minutes.
Tip: Remove the bagels when they have expanded to your liking and transfer them to a tray—setting them bottom—rough-side down.
Note: Add more bagels to the pot, as you continue.
23. Sprinkle your favorite topping(s) over the bagels, while they are still wet.
Tip: The purpose of the first tray is to catch any loose seeds that would burn if you sprinkled them over the bagels on the pan that you planned to bake them on.
Note: I did half salt and half poppy seed.
24. Transfer the bagels to a lipped baking sheet.
Tip: Depending on your baking sheet, you may need to lay down some parchment paper, before adding the bagels. I have some Sur la Table baking sheets that do not require lining.
Note: Do not over-crowd the baking sheet. Leave about an inch between bagels. With 12 bagels I laid six to a pan.
25. Bake for 20-25 minutes until well browned on top.
Tip: Rotate the pan half way through to ensure even baking.
Note: With two pans I had one tray on the middle level of the oven and the second tray on the level just below. At the half way point, I not only rotated the trays, but I also switched levels—the top tray down to the lower level, etc.
26. Transfer the finished bagels to a wire rack to cool.
Tip: I noticed that the tray that had started on the bottom rack was less done the other tray. I left it in the oven for an additional two minutes, until they were done to my liking.
Note: After 2-3 minutes, the bagels will be cool enough that they will not burn your mouth and there is nothing quite like a fresh, warm bagel—even an hour later they are still good, but not as exquisite as absolutely fresh.
27. Slice the bagel open and slather on the butter or cream cheese and enjoy.
Note: Traditionally, bagels are sliced laterally—so that you have two thin rings with holes in the center. A few years ago, there was a great scandal when someone showed up at an event having sliced his bagels vertically into several slices. You’d like to not hear the end of it!