Introduction: Best Bagels in Town

I have many warm memories of eating bagels growing up. Most Sunday mornings greeted me with a poppy seed bagel topped with a creamy schemer and, on special occasions, an amber layer of lox. About a year ago I moved to Texas and was sad to discover a serious lack of good bagels. Well, DIYers, this problem is easy enough to solve. Here is my recipe for great homemade bagels.

Bagels are a unique kind of bread because they are boiled first, then baked. This creates a shiny chewy exterior with a wonderful doughy interior. Making bagels may be intimidating at first, but in fact they only require a few simple ingredients and some patience. This recipe makes a dozen bagels and, if you can make it through the week without eating them all, the rest will keep easily in the freezer.

Step 1: Ingredients and Supplies

First, lets gather our ingredients and supplies.

Day 1: Dough Preparation
    4 c. Bread Flour
    2 c. Wheat Flour
    2.5 c. Water - Lukewarm
    4 tsp. Kosher Salt
    2 tbs. Honey
    2 tsp. Instant Yeast
    2 tbs. Olive Oil
    2 Baking Sheets
    2 Medium Sized Bowls
    1 Mixer
    Parchment Paper

Day 2: Baking
    1 tbs. Honey
    1.5 tsp. Kosher Salt
    1 tbs. Baking Soda
Optional Toppings
    1 tbs. Sesame Seeds
    1 tbs. Poppy Seeds
    1 tbs. Black Salt
    1 Large-Mouthed Pot
    1 Slotted Spatula

Step 2: Day 1: Dough Preparation - Mixing

Mixing: To build the dough combine the lukewarm water, yeast, salt, and honey in a bowl and mix together until all is dissolved. At the same time, combine the bread and wheat flour in your mixer's bowl. Attach the dough hook to your mixer and set on low slowly adding your wet ingredients to the dry as it mixes. Mix for about 5 minutes. Let the dough rest for 3 minutes and mix 3 minutes more to develop the gluten. You want the dough to be slightly tacky, but not so sticky that it stays on your fingers after you touch it. Add extra flour or water until you get the desired consistency.

Step 3: Day 1: Dough Preparation - Rising

Rising: Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and let it rise for about an hour. You should see the dough grow a bit, but not much. While you wait for the dough to rise, prepare the baking sheets by placing a sheet of parchment paper on each one. Lightly oil the surface of the parchment paper to make sure the bagels won't stick.

Step 4: Day 1: Dough Preparation - Shaping

Shaping: After the dough has risen, divide it into 12 equal pieces. To form the bagels, take each piece of dough between your hands and roll it until it is a smooth ball. With your thumb and middle finger, press into the ball until you form a ring. You can place your fingers inside of the ring, gently pulling and turning, until you get a hole about 1.5 inches in diameter. Place the bagels onto the oiled parchment paper. They won't rise much, so you don't need to worry about placing them very far apart. Cover the bagels with plastic wrap and place them in the refrigerator overnight.

Step 5: Day 2: Baking Day - Proofing

Proofing: Take the bagels out of the refrigerator about an hour before you want to cook them. You want to proof the bagels (i.e.: prove the yeast is active enough) before you boil them. Remove one bagel from the baking sheet and place it in a small bowl of water. If it sinks, gently drip-dry the bagel and place it back on the sheet. If it floats, the bagel has proofed and you are ready to boil the bagels. Continue checking with this bagel (you needn't test them all) every 20 minutes to see if the bagels have finished proofing. Once they have proofed, place the bagels in the refrigerator until the boiling mixture (next) is ready.

Step 6: Day 2: Baking Day - Preparations

Preparations: While the bagels are proofing prepare the oven and boiling mixture. Set the oven on 500 F to preheat for baking. Fill a wide-mouthed pot with at least 5 inches of water, cover, and wait for it to boil. Once the water is boiling, reduce to a simmer and add the salt, honey, and baking soda.

Step 7: Day 2: Baking Day - Boiling

Boiling: Once the boiling mixture is ready and simmering it is time to poach the bagels! Place as many bagels as can comfortably fit inside the pot. The bagels should float after a few seconds if they don't immediately. Let the bagels boil on one side for a minute, then flip them over to boil for another minute. Use a slotted spatula to remove the bagels from the water and place back on the lightly oiled parchment paper. If you are using toppings immediately garnish them. I garnished mine with salt, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, or left them plain.

Step 8: Day 2: Baking Day - Baking

Baking: When you are ready for baking, turn the oven down to 450 F and place the bagels in the oven for 9 minutes. After 9 minutes check to see how brown they are, rotate, and bake for an additional 9 minutes. Once the bagels are done place them on a cooling rack for 30 minutes.

Step 9: Going the Extra Step

Cutting: I find that it is easy to get your fingers nicked while cutting bagels. Here is a technique I use to cut a bagel while ensuring my fingers stay safely out of the way.

Place your hand on top of the bagel. Take a serrated knife in the other hand, place it on the side of the bagel, and slowly drag the knife towards and away from you until you get half way through. Once you are half way through the bagel, flip the bagel up on its edge and hold it from the top. Continue cutting down towards the counter until you are through.

Now you can enjoy making this simple bread at home and will never again have to wonder where you can find the best bagels in town.

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