Source: Star Tribune
Preparation Times - Prep: 35 Minutes - Rise: 70 Minutes - Simmer: 15 Minutes - Bake: 15 Minutes
6 ½ cups btead flour (or substitute all-purpose flour), divided
5 tsp dry yeast
6 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp salt
3 cups hot water (120 to 130 degrees), plus 3 quarts water to boil bagels
1 ½ Tbsp barley malt syrup (or brown sugar in the same amount)
1 egg white beaten with 1 tsp water
Toppings of choice: coarse salt, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried onion flakes, dried garlic flakes, caraway seeds, sunflower seeds
To make dough
In a mixing bowl (or the bowl of an electric mixer), measure 6 cups flour and stir in the yeast, sugar and salt. Pour in 3 cups hot water and stir with a large wooden spoon (or with the paddle attachment of the electric mixer at low speed) and beat for about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 cup flour, a little at a time (you may need a little more or less flour).
When the batter becomes thick and heavy, attach the mixer's dough hook (if using) or lift the dough from the bowl and transfer it to a lightly floured work surface for kneading by hand.
To knead dough
Knead the dough at medium low speed on the mixer -- or by hand (using a push, turn and fold motion) for about 10 minutes -- or until the dough is firm, solid and not sticky when pinched with the fingers. Add flour as needed if the dough is sticky in your hands or sticks to the sides of the mixing bowl (if using electric mixer).
This is quite a large amount of dough, so I use a heavy-duty silicone spatula to push the dough down into the bowl when it starts winding itself around the upper part of the hook attachment.
For first rising
When you have kneaded the dough into a nice, firm and smooth ball, transfer it to an oiled mixing bowl, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature until it has doubled in volume -- about 1 hour (or let it proof in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it, ideally no more than 5 hours). To prepare water bath
Near the end of this rising time, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the malt syrup or sugar. Reduce the heat and leave the water just barely simmering. To shape bagels
When the dough has doubled in volume, transfer it onto a lightly floured work surface and punch it down with the flat of your palm to remove any air pockets.
Divide the dough in 2 (I return half back to the bowl, cover it and refrigerate it while I'm working on the other half) and cut each half into 10 to 12 pieces (each will weigh about 3 to 4 ounces).
Shape each piece into a ball. Allow the balls to stand and relax for a few minutes, then flatten each one with the palm of your hand. Press your index finger deep into the center of the bagel and tear a little depression open. Pull the hole open and twirl the bagel fast around your index finger until it is shapely. Or, place your other index finger in and "roll" the fingers around in the hole, widening it and stretching the bagel.
Smooth the rough edges. Your bagels should look like ... bagels! Form all of the bagels and place them on your work surface.
For second rising
Cover the shaped bagels with wax paper or parchment paper and leave at room temperature until the dough has risen slightly, about 10 minutes. (This is called a "half proof." If the bagels are allowed to proof or rise too much during the "second rise," they will not sink when put in the simmering water. If that should happen, just don't tell anyone. Pretend that they DID sink and cook them for the same 1 minute as described below).
To finish bagels
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. (If using a convection oven, reduce the heat by 50 degrees). Line a baking sheet with baking parchment paper and sprinkle it with cornmeal.
Place 1 bagel at a time into the simmering water in the pot by using a large skimmer and gently lowering it into the water. Simmer only 3 to 4 bagels at a time; do not crowd pan. The bagels will sink and then rise again after a few seconds. Simmer gently for 30 seconds or so, then turn bagel over and cook for another 30 seconds.
Lift each bagel out of the water with the skimmer, drain briefly on a towel and place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all bagels are simmered, drained and on the baking sheet. (If you added the malt syrup or sugar to the simmering water, your bagels will be shiny as you lift them out of the water).
Brush each bagel lightly with the egg white-water mixture, then sprinkle the topping, if desired, or leave unadorned for water bagels.
Place the baking sheet on the middle rack of the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. When the bagel tops are a light brown (usually after about 12 to 15 minutes), turn them over to complete baking. This turning-over step will keep the bagels in a rounded shape, instead of being flat on the bottom. Remove bagels from oven when they are golden brown and shiny, about 10 to 12 minutes more.
Place the bagels on a metal rack to cool. Pick the best-looking bagel, slice it open, slather with the best cream cheese you can find, sink your teeth into it and congratulate yourself on being one terrific baker.
© Barbara Deitch 2020