Every now and then, I like to experiment with turning food that my husband and I regularly purchase from the store into something I can make in my own kitchen. I do this because I find that homemade food almost always tastes better, and it’s usually healthier, too. That’s why I recently decided to try my hand at making bagels from scratch.
I’ll be honest. My first two attempts at homemade bagels were less than perfect. By my third try, however, I had a few tricks under my sleeve to help me produce much tastier, more consistent results. In fact, I was so excited by my success that I packaged some of them up as gifts for my friends to sample, and they were a huge hit!
So if you’re someone who loves baking breads, this recipe should be right up your ally. Hopefully I can teach you a few tricks I’ve learned to make the process fun and simple:
• 1 cup + 2 tablespoons lukewarm water
• 1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
• 3 tablespoons malt syrup or sugar (I used maple syrup)
• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 4 – 4 ½ cups bread or all-purpose flour
Combine the water and the active dry yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer or bread machine. Stir and let sit for five minutes until the yeast has dissolved.
Add the malt syrup or sugar, the vegetable oil, and the salt, and stir until combined. Add the flour gradually, and knead for about 10 minutes on a low-to-medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic. The dough should be very firm, and it shouldn’t stick to your fingers if you touch it. Cover the dough with a damp tea towel, and let rest for 20 minutes.
Punch down the dough, and divide into 8 equal portions. Place one portion on the surface of a wood cutting board (the dough should be firm enough that you don’t need to flour your surface) and flatten it by smacking it with the palm of your hand. Once flattened, roll the dough up tightly. Then, beginning from the center, roll the dough back and forth until it forms a snake 8-10 inches long.
Take the two tapered ends and overlap them by an inch or two to form a circle. To secure the circle together, place three fingers in the middle of your circle, and roll back and forth over the tapered edges until uniform in size. For a video reference on this process, visit this link.
Repeat this process to shape the remaining seven portions of dough, and then cover with a damp tea towel and let rest for another 15-20 minutes, or until the dough has risen and become puffy.
Preheat your oven to 425◦F. Line a cookie sheet with cornmeal, semolina, or parchment paper.
Bring to boil in a large pot:
• 4 quarts water
• 1 tablespoon malt syrup or sugar
• ½ teaspoon salt
Once the water has come to a rolling boil, drop the dough rings into the water, making sure you give each bagel ample space. Let them cook on one side for 45-60 seconds, and then flip them over to cook another minute. Remove from water and place on the cookie sheet. Once all of your bagels are on the cookie sheet, brush the tops with an egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional).
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops of your bagels are golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Make sure bagels are room temperature before packaging.
Recipe adapted from The Joy of Cooking.