Homemade Bagels

by Gigi Ross on April 21, 2010

I’m pinching myself, because I just can’t believe I made homemade bagels. And they were good!

Ever since mastering the no-knead bread, my husband has been peppering me with all sorts of ideas on what sort of bread product to make next. We’ve spent the last two weeks on pizza crust and today, I decided it was a great day to attempt bagels. Once again, I turned to Bittman’s tome, How To Cook Everything, because I’ve really had amazing success with nearly every basic recipe I’ve tried from the book.

I realize now, after spending about 15 minutes Googling “bagel recipes”, that there are entire communities of bagel aficionados out there, who debate the type of flour to use, what recipe is best, yada yada. Well, I’m not that into bagels, but I think I know a pretty good bagel when I taste one. Or, at least I know a pretty bad bagel when I taste one. And the Bittman bagel was really good, in my amateur opinion. I really like that he makes cooking simple and accessible for hacks like me.

What I learned about bagelmaking that surprised me: 1. You add a sweetener. I didn’t have malt syrup, so I used maple syrup. 2. You boil them, then bake them. Cool. That was kind of fun, like making pierogi or ravioli. 3. It is much more time consuming than no-knead bread. So, I’m not really sure how I would make these for a weekend breakfast surprise for my family, since there is a 2 hour rise time just before boiling, and then a 20 minute bake time. I suppose if I got up at 4 a.m., this could be pulled off. Not likely to happen, but I can definitely make these for a fresh lunch bread option! Next time, I’ll be trying some flavored versions.

Bagels (from Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything)

3 and 1/2 cups bread or all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 tablespoons malt syrup, maple syrup, molasses or sugar
Neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, for baking sheet (if needed)

1. Put the flour in a food processor. Add the salt, yeast and sweetener and process for 5 seconds. With the machine running, pour (don’t drizzle) 1 and 1/4 cups water through the feed tube. Process for about 30 seconds, then remove the cover. The dough should be in a well-defined ball, only slightly sticky and very easy to handle. If the dough is too dry, add water 1 tbsp at a time and process for 5 or 10 seconds after each addition. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead for a minute or two longer by hand, adding as much flour as necessary to make a smooth, tough, very elastic dough.
2. Dump the lump of dough into a large bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rise for about 2 hours at room temperature, or up to 12 hours in the refrigerator. If refrigerated, bring back to room temp before proceeding.
3. Deflate the dough ball and let it rest on a lightly floured surface, covered, for about 10 minutes. Cut it into 8 or 12 equal pieces, depending on how big you want your bagels. Roll each ball into a 6 to 8 inch long rope and then shape into a circle. Keep all the balls covered as you work and lightly flour and cover the shaped bagels as well. When they’re done, cover and let rise for about 30 minutes.
4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and heat the oven (if using a pizza stone, put it in during preheating). Drop the bagels, one at a time, into the boiling water; don’t crowd. The bagels will sink, then rise to the surface. Boil for 1 minute on each side, then remove them with a slotted spoon and put on a lightly greased rack to drain.

5. Put bagels either on a pizza stone or a lightly greased  baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the bagels are nicely browned. Remove and cool on a wire rack. Keep for 1 to 2 days.

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