After actual years of consideration, I decided to try my hand at making bagels. Since my husband used to own a bagel shop, I had expert input but at the same time some extra pressure. I’m happy to say that making bagels turned out to be easier than I expected, and I can promise bagels will be part of my weekly baking going forward.
A few notes:
I tried a sourdough bagel recipe, since I bake sourdough bread several times a week. I found the dough to be harder to work with and the final result, while tasty, wasn’t my favorite texture. That’s why I’ve stuck with yeast risen bagels.
The biggest variable in bagel making is proofing. It is easy to overproof bagels because of their high gluten content. However, a good ferment is key to a tasty bagel. So you have to find that perfect balance between tasty flavor and a deflated (overproofed) bagel. The original recipe I started with had only a 90 minute rise, and it made good bagels but if you can retard the dough overnight in your fridge the flavor will be greatly improved. When it comes to proofing, keep in mind that temperature effects how fast dough prooves. If you, like me, are cooking in a home heated with wood, your temperature may vary greatly day to day. This needs to be accounted for when planning proving times for any dough.
Homemade bagel recipes usually suggest making a ball of dough and poking your fingers through it to create the hole. This works. However I found more consistency and less wrinkly bagels by rolling a strip of dough and connecting the two ends.
I made my bagels with bread flour, the most readily available higher gluten flour. Definitely do not try to make bagels with all purpose flour, it won’t have enough gluten. If you can, order a specialty high gluten flour such as King Arthur’s special Sir Lancelot brand.
(makes eight bagels)
1 1/2 cups of warm (110F-120F) water
2 3/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast
1 tablespoon brown sugar (light or dark) — alternatively, barley malt syrup
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups of bread flour — alternatively, high gluten flour
Dash of olive oil
2 quarts of water
1/4 cup of honey — alternatively, barley malt syrup
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 egg to make egg wash
Toppings — sesame seeds, everything bagel mix, garlic powder, poppy seeds, etc
For a dough with an overnight retard, start your bagels the evening before you plan to bake. Or you can start them first thing in the morning and bake them at the end of the day.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine warm water and active dry yeast. Allow to sit for five minutes.
Add the brown sugar, salt, and bread flour. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on low for two minutes. The dough will quickly become very dense.
Pour the dough out on to a clean, prepared surface, dusted with bread flour. Knead for five minutes, until the dough becomes smooth.
Use olive oil to lightly grease a large bowl. Place your dough in the bowl, rolling it so all sides get a light coat of oil. Cover with a clean rag or plastic wrap and allow to proof for 60-90 minutes.
Divide your dough into eight equal pieces. I used a kitchen scale and weighed each piece to 125 grams.
Roll each piece into a thick strip, pinch the ends of the strip together and roll to solidify the connecting point. You may need to pinch the dough a bit to ensure a good hold.
Place each bagel on a lined cookie sheet, cover in plastic wrap or a proofing bagel, and allow to retard overnight in the refrigerator. They should ideally prove 6-8 hours.
Bring your bagels out of the fridge and allow them to come up to room temperature — this should take 1-2 hours. Keep an eye on them — they should just come up to temperature, not start rising.
As the bagels warm up, preheat your oven to 425F.
Fill a large pot with 2 quarts fo water, 1/4 cup of honey, and 1 tablespoon of baking soda. Stir to combine, and bring to a boil.
Once the water is boiling, add the bagels two at a time.
Bagels should boil for one minute on each side. Once boiled, remove them from the water and place them on a prepared cookie sheet.
Lightly coat the bagels in egg wash and add your preferred toppings.
Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate your baking sheet in the oven and bake for 10 more minutes.
Remove, allow to cool or enjoy fresh from the oven!